The HCSB: A Quick Review

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I appreciate several different Bible translations.  From the old NIV to the NLT to the NASB, I enjoy looking at various translations when working through a text.  I like the ESV, but I don’t use it exclusively since other translations are also good for study, reading, and teaching.

I recently began using the HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible – HCSB.org) since I purchased a copy last year.  The HSCB actually pre-dates the ESV by a year or two and is published by Holman Bible Publishers, which is affiliated with B&H Publishing Group (please correct me if I’m wrong on that).

The HCSB is based on the Nestle-Aland 27th edition and the UBS 4th edition for the NT and the BHS 5th edition for the OT.  The publishers note in the introduction that though there are two main translation philosophies (formal equivalence [word-for-word] and dynamic equivalence [thought-for-thought]), the philosophy of the HCSB is somewhere between the two.  They call this philosophy “optimal equivalence.”  That is, it realizes the strengths and weaknesses of formal and dynamic equivalence and seeks to implement the strengths of both while avoiding the weaknesses of both.

One way the translators try attain “optimal equivalence” is by providing footnotes for clarification where other translations do not.  For example, sometimes there is a footnote that gives a more literal reading, which helps the reader understand both the thought of the text and the actual wording.  I’ve not been using it long enough to see if this translation meets the goal of “optimal equivalence,” but so far I do appreciate the wording and the footnotes.  The font is also very readable and the layout is handsome in my compact ultra-thin copy.  Here is how the HCSB translates the following popular verses:

Joshua 1:9: “Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous?  Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 46:1: “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.”

John 5:46-47: “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me.  But if you don’t believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Some of our readers might recognize several scholars who worked on this translation: Clinton Arnold, Iain Duguid, Craig Blomberg, Alan Groves, Walter Kaiser, George W. Knight, Andreas Kostenberger, and Tom Schreiner, among others.

If you’re not familiar with this translation and want to check it out, there is a free app via the Amazon appstore that has many excellent ratings (HERE).  The Bible pictured above is here on Amazon.  Alternatively, visit the website for more info: www.hcsb.org

shane lems
hammond, wi

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2 comments on “The HCSB: A Quick Review

  1. The HCSB was the first translation to get Malachi 2:16 correct, i.e., to rightly convey that the subject of the vert ‘hates’ is THIRD person masculine singular and is the divorcing man, not God.

    I was stunned and delighted when I read that verse in the HCSB while browsing in a bookstore and immediately bought it.

    Since then the ESV and the 2011 NIV have got that verse correct too. But there is still a long way to go to eradicate the incorrect idea that ‘God hates divorce’ from the mind of the Christian public.

    I find the HCSB is the best translation to give to a person who has never read the Bible before and may not have a very good educational level. The sentences are generally shorter than in the ESV, and comprehension is often easier. But nothing is sacrificed in meaning and accuracy because that ‘optimal equivalence’ principle is so well applied by the translators.

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