Why the HCSB?
A couple of weeks ago I made a change to the Holman Christian Standard version of the Bible as my main preaching text. I had been using the English Standard Version for the six and half years that I had been pastoring at Grand. So why the change?
The HCSB and the ESV were published very close together, the ESV in 2001 followed by the HCSB in 2004. Both are excellent translations. I latched onto the ESV almost immediately when it was published. I was finishing my doctorate at Southern Seminary and the translation garnered the endorsement of Dr. Al Mohler. I have loved and still do love the ESV. In recent years, I have begun to take notice of the HCSB as well. In my sermon study and prep time, I found myself drifting from the ESV to the HCSB for alternate readings and nuanced translation differences. We live in a wonderful day as English speakers where we have multiple translations of God’s Word to help us discern exactly what God has said to us. Of all the translations available today, the ESV and HCSB are at the very top of my personal list.
That’s a little background, but I still have not answered the question of why a switch. So let me break it down in a few bullet points.
- The HCSB is a new translation from the original languages, not a revision of a previous translation. This is a BIG deal because so much has been learned from recent publications of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other newly discovered manuscripts. The HCSB takes advantage of the latest in manuscript discovery.
- The HCSB is a formal equivalence translation (word-for-word) which is very important when studying God’s Word. BUT it employs a dynamic equivalence (meaning-for-meaning) approach when the formal translation is too stilted for English understanding. It does this very sparingly but effectively in my experience with the translation.
- When the HCSB does employee a dynamic equivalence approach to translation, it provides extensive footnoting with the most literal translation. This is fantastic for the biblical student, because you get the best of both worlds. In fact, the HCSB does the best job of any translation I have seen in footnoting for the sake of providing the best possible understanding.
- The publishers of the HCSB have gone to great lengths to publish a visually appealing text. This may sound trivial, but it is no small thing. The choice of font, layout of the text, etc. are outstanding. I have never worked with a Bible that is so easy to visually engage with. As one example, in the New Testament, every time there is a quote from the Old Testament, those quotes are bolded. They really pop visually. It drives home in a clear way the amount of Old Testament references that appear in the New Testament.
- Our church in particular, is embracing The Gospel Project as our Bible study curriculum for all our age groups. The primary translation of The Gospel Project is the HCSB. By adopting the HCSB in the pulpit, we are marrying together a common translation across the board for our people.
- Holman is doing more than any Bible publisher I am aware of with digital content as it relates to the Bible. In the world we live in today, digital publishing is critical. I wanted to engage a translation that would be backed with a strong and progressive digital platform.
So when you put it all together, the HCSB fits like a glove for me and for the church I pastor. I was able to work a great deal with Lifeway and we have offered the HCSB in a leather bound edition to our people at special pricing. In the last two weeks we have sold over 300 of these Bibles. The feedback I am getting from young and old is that they love the Holman Christian Standard Bible.
Of course the most important thing to remember about God’s Word, regardless of which translation is your favorite, is that you take time to read it!