Let’s start at the very beginning, A very good place to start


So on Friday I received a Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). I was planning on reading through Genesis to Psalms starting this Sunday night, but I was too excited and couldn’t wait, so I read Genesis 1 – 11 to Liezl on Friday night and the rest of Genesis on Saturday morning.

This is interesting: I’ve been inundated with emails, Facebook messages and comments from pastors endorsing the HCSB. And not just any pastors, pastors I look up to. Like Brent Meyers, from Sandton Bible Church, who says, “Its a great translation and one my whole family uses. Its philosophy is to begin with a literal translation and then consider how to best express the literal in an understandable way – which is how I translate. It also doesn’t have the theological bias that the ESV has. I hope you enjoy it.” And Steven Murray, blogger of Daylight, and a cool guy in general (keeping me on my theological toes), makes this excellent point, “I like the look of HCSB but I wonder if most of my folk are going to just go out and buy the updated NIV next time they need a new Bible.” And Fr Robert, a Reformed Anglican (wish there were more), and one of my few overseas readers, says “I love the Hebrew and Greek Word Studies! And we are on the same page as to Bible Translations also. Indeed the “Cognitive equivalence” of the literal translation approach!”

Time will tell if I too decide to adopt it, but for now I can say that I’m finding it very easy to read, I’m enjoying the translative decisions that have been made and the interpretive decisions so far match my own theological leanings.

I’m reading the text out loud, with a notebook and pen sitting next to me. I’ve jotted down interesting verses which I think deserve a mention or more research a little later on (I’ve put down about a third below, highlighting what it was about the text that drew my attention). Oh, and I’ve not read anyone else’s review or endorsements yet, but I will, once I’ve done reading the Pentateuch, tonight, hopefully.

Have you read the HCSB? Thinking of reading it? Using it in your church? Hate it passionately? I’d value any comments or concerns that you may have.

Verse Holman Christian Stand Bible (HCSB) New International Version (NIV) New American Standard Version (NASB) Comment
1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. One of my favourite verses.
4:26 A son was born to Seth also, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Yahweh. Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the LORD. To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call *upon the name of the LORD. I love the use of YAHWEH for the covenant name of God.
12:1 – 3 The Lord said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you. The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Now the LORD said to Abram, ” Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you;And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” The establishment of the covenant relationship between God and the Seed of Abraham.
22:12 Then He said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from Me.” “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” This might just be me, but I’ve really enjoyed the capitalizations of the Theophonies. This is a interpretative decision rather than a translative one, and I like it.
25:30 He said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, because I’m exhausted.” That is why he was [also] named Edom. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom. ) and Esau said to Jacob, “Please let me have a swallow of *that red stuff there, for I am *famished.” Therefore his name was called *Edom. I love the easy readablity of the text. There of tons of examples of this throughout the text like the way apostraphies are used to shorten words.
26:20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Quarrel because they quarreled with him. But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek,because they disputed with him. the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with the herdsmen of Isaac, saying, “The water is ours!” So he named the well *Esek, because they contended with him. I love the transliteration of the names of proper nouns. They don’t do it with all of them, but do do it where it makes sence. This is a translative decision, and I like it a lot.
29:17 Leah had delicate eyes, but Rachel was shapely and beautiful. Leah had weakeyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and *face. I immediately realised the distinction that had been made here.
31:53 The God of Abraham, and the gods of Nahor-the gods of their father-will judge between us.” And Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac. May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” So Jacob took an oath in the name of the Fear of his father Isaac. “The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” So Jacob swore by the fear of his father Isaac. I The pluralisation of the gods (el) which makes translative sense given that chapter 1 was translated as plural.
32:26 Then He said to Jacob, “Let Me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me.” Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Another example of capitalisation of a Theophony.
33:19 He purchased a section of the field from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for 100 qesitahs, where he had pitched his tent. For a hundred pieces of silver,he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, the plot of ground where he pitched his tent. He bought the piece of land where he had pitched his tent from the hand of the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred *pieces of money. Quesitahs. Going to have to go away and add that to my Biblical dictionary.
43:34 Portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, and Benjamin’s portion was five times larger than any of theirs. They drank, and they got drunk with Joseph. When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him. He took portions to them from *his own table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. So they feasted and drank freely with him. This was interesting spin on a story I’ve read a number of times before. Maybe a little more cutting that I expected.
46:25 These were the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Rachel. She bore to Jacob: seven persons. These were the sons born to Jacob by Bilhah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Rachel—seven in all. These are the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Rachel, and she bore these to Jacob; there were seven persons in all. Now this raises a major concern I’ve got, the online HCSB doesn’t line up 100% with the printed HCSB I’ve received. In fact two of the verse I choose to highlight here weren’t the same in the two formats. This will be a big problem.
50:9 Horses and chariots went up with him; it was a very impressive procession. Chariots and horsemenalso went up with him. It was a very large company. There also went up with him both chariots and horsemen; and it was a very great company. I much prefer this rendering.

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7 thoughts on “Let’s start at the very beginning, A very good place to start

  1. “…the interpretive decisions so far match my own theological leanings.” Doesn’t this just about say it all? And indeed highlight the problem with sola scriptura? :-) (Which is not necessarily to criticise the text, or to say that those of us who don’t go in for sola scriptura don’t read Scripture through a particular interpretive framework, it’s just that we’re a bit clearer on where we get that framework from…)

  2. :), I think I’ve been misinterpreted. “my own theological leanings” are uncovered in the comments from the verses I’ve pulled out.

    For instances the decision to capitalise the personal pronouns for Theophonies. I’d imagine you’d not have a problem with these either? I can sights other examples of interpretation in action if you’d like but I assure you I’m not arguing for injecting my theology into the text but I am happy when the text makes plain good theology.

    Does this answer clarify my position and de-demonise it a little?

  3. I’m not sure if I understand you correctly, but I’m certainly not demonising interpretation! In fact, to go all Gadamerian, I’d probably see it as necessary for understanding. And I certainly agree with you on the capitalisation. But I do that precisely because my reading is shaped by an interpretive community that forms me and provides me with an interpretive horizon for reading it in this way, as opposed to other possible ways, and provides a canon that guides such interpretation. St Irenaeus of Lyons pointed out that both the Gnostics and the Orthodox quoted Scripture, but, using the analogy of a mosaic, he argued that the Gnostics put the pieces of the mosaic together to form a fox, whereas the Orthodox put them together to form a King. The Gnostics did this because “they disregard the order and connection of the Scriptures and … dismember and destroy the truth.” Irenaeus points to the need to read Scripture according to the Apostolic hypothesis.

    It’s not interpretation that’s the problem – and that’s always going to impact translation – but rather, I suspect, the criteria by which we make that interpretation…

  4. Pingback: SA Bloggers – Let’s start at the very beginning, A very good place to start

  5. Hello, Mark. Long time no comment.

    The HCSB is in my top three. (it actually gets John 3:16 correct, willing to take on that sacred cow) My son-in-law, uses it in the church where he pastors.

    Sola Scriptura is not affected by the statement made, at all.

  6. Hey Jeff,

    I’m really excited. The more I read the more I’m enjoying it. I have two tests left. Read through the Psalms and the New Testament.

    This may become my Translation of preference.

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