Why I’m using the Holman Christian Standard Bible


Baptist, Benoni, Crystal Park, Crystal Park Baptist Church, dynamic equivalence, English Standard Version, ESV, formal equivalence, gender neutral language, GNB, Good News Bible, HCSB, Holman Christian Standard Bible, King James Version, KJV, NASB, New American Standard Version, New International Version, New King James Version, NIV, NKJV, optimal equivalence, translation

Photo by Tom Cocklereece

Hey there church,

I hope I find you well this morning? It’s getting colder in Johannesburg and we’ll be starting to fire up the heaters in morning services very soon.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading the Bible. “Ah”, you might say, “I kinda expected that from my pastor” :). Yes you should, but what I’ve been reading has been a little different and I wanted to tell you about it.

I’ve been concerned about which Bible we use as a congregation. You may have noticed, we’re a diverse bunch of people. Lots of kids who generally read out of the Good News Bible. Lots of foreigners (I love that Crystal Park is the melting pot of Africa) and second language English speakers who generally read out of the New International Version. And the rest? They generally read out of the English Standard Version, King James Version and New American Standard Version.

Now I’m all for diversity, but something’s changed. The New International Version has changed their translation policy to include more gender neutral language. This might not seem a big deal, but think about the way we preach – verse by verse, line by line – we really care about what the original author meant to say to his original hearers. This changed policy is a step too far away from the original language. We need to consider our options.

I received a Holman Christian Standard Bible a few weeks ago. I’ve read the Pentateuch, the Old Testament books of history and long portions of the New Testament since then. I’m impressed. I’ve also done a detailed word study of Colossians 4:2 – 6 and 7 – 18, asked the translators questions and gotten back satisfactory answers.

Maybe you’d like to know a little more about this translation? Well English translations can be simplified into three basic categories: formal, dynamic and optimal equivalence. What does that mean?

The English Standard Version, King James Version and New American Standard Versions are formal equivalence translations. They’re word-for-word, literal translations, and seek to preserve the original language by representing each word of the translated text with an equivalent word so we can see what the original author wrote. I favour this for myself and recommend Bible students to study out of one of these translations.

Translations like the New Living Translation and the Message are called dynamic equivolence translations. They are thought-for-thought and try to capture the meaning of the text more than the form. At Crystal Park Baptist Church we don’t generally encourage people to use these (even though I know some of you do… and yes, I know they’re sooo easy to read).

The HCSB uses optimal equivalence. By that they mean that a literal translation is used when possible, but when clarity and readability demand they’ll opt for an idiomatic translation, the reader can then access the original text through footnotes.

If you’re a visual person I tried to capture the thinking above in the chart below:

Baptist, Benoni, Crystal Park, Crystal Park Baptist Church, dynamic equivalence, English Standard Version, ESV, formal equivalence, gender neutral language, GNB, Good News Bible, HCSB, Holman Christian Standard Bible, King James Version, KJV, NASB, New American Standard Version, New International Version, New King James Version, NIV, NKJV, optimal equivalence, translation

So what’s going to change? I’m so excited to begin preaching through the book of Acts from the 2nd of June. I’m planning to use the HCSB from then. Add to that, the weekly memory verses in the pewslip will be out of the HCSB from now on.

I visited CUM Books in Eastrand Mall last week and they sell HCSB’s at reasonable prices and I checked Christian Book Discounters and they’ve got them available on their website. When we can get hardcover copies at reasonable prices we’ll stock them at church too.

the Penrith's, Mark Penrith

Got questions? Come speak to Gideon or me. I’m sure we’ll release an Elder’s Questions and Answers in the next few days.

In Christ and for His glory alone,

Mark

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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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God’s Word, God’s people, my joy


Today a Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) arrived on my doorstep via courier. Why is this important to note you may ask? Not a bad question dear reader, not a bad question at all.

There is a tension at Crystal Park Baptist Church. Let me explain lest you fear church split. Half of our congregation is second/third language English speaking black folk; quarter of the congregation second language English speaking white folk; the remainder first language English speaking white folk like me. A quarter of our congregation on any given Sunday is under the age of twelve. And the paster is a student, trying hard to crack the Biblical languages.

The variety in last paragraph sounds so encouraging doesn’t? So why’s there tension? Great question!

Well, being a student of God’s Word, I favour a literal interpretation (King Jimmy, the New King Jimmy, English Standard Version ect). I preach from a New American Standard Version.

The kids, under twelve, who’s parents don’t come to church, and who are second language English speakers are encouraged to use a Good News Bible as it’s really easy to read and simple to understand.

The first language English speakers are recommend to get a literal translation for themselves.

And to the rest, the adult second/third language speakers, we encouraged the use of the New International Version.

Now variety is the spice of life (did you notice the variety excluded the Message, the Amplified, the Voice, Today’s New International Version?). I’d not have a problem with this as the status-qua, except things change.

Firstly, my bible is falling apart. I bought a Thomas Nelson bonded leather John MacArthur Study Bible back in the day. Well, I read my Bible, so if there was a fault in the manufacturer it’d always come to the fall. Because I now need to replace my Bible I am thinking of changing the interpretation I use.

Secondly, the NIV is falling apart. Oh, OK, that might not be fair. I had read through the 1984 NIV translation a number of times and I was happy enough with the translation. But it’s no longer in print :(. That means I must now adopt a new standard for half my congregation.

And so I’m out shopping. Where will we settle? I don’t know right now. I do know that I’m excited after reading the HCSB’s translation philosophy as it might serve the needs of my church. I’m also delighted after reading the gender language policy they’ve employed. As I’ve gone through the Bible I’ve been sent I’ve also been impressed by the great features in the edition I’ve been sent.

On Sunday evening, Monday evening and Wednesday I’ll be reading from this translation, hopefully I’ll be able to cover a fair portion of the Pentateuch and History up to the Psalms. Then I’ll be able to say if I’m excited about the translation itself. Nothing beats readings God’s Word. I’m looking do forward to my week ahead.

Have you read the HCSB? What did you like about it? What did you dislike? What cautions might you give? I’d love to hear from you.