Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book Review: The CSB: Ultrathin Reference Bible

The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is a revised edition of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) produces by B&H Publishing Group which primarily owned by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The HCSB in the New Testament was released in 1999 followed by the completed translation in 2004. There have been many specialty and study Bibles in the HCSB that been best sellers in Christian retail and will continue in the CSB, which brings me to The CSB: Ultrathin Reference Bible.

Before I move in this review, I like to mention that I have reviewed Bibles before. I have reviewed them in the New International Version (NIV), New King James Version (NKJV), and English Standard Version (ESV). I have mentioned what I liked about that Bible and what I did not. This review will be different. I will review the specialty Bible, then I will review the translation.

This Bible is a called a reference Bible. Meaning as you read this Bible, you will see a letter and a number. The number represents the footnote at the bottom of the page which some translations do even in a simple thinline Bible. The letters represent corresponding letters which can be found in the center column of each page. There are no book introductions (this is not a study Bible). The size of the Bible is excellent for carrying around or having it in your suitcase, backpack, or whatever you are carrying. There is concordance in the back which is perfect if you are doing a simple word study as well maps which is also good when you are doing a study in your church on a book of the Bible.

Now regarding the CSB. First, I was never a fan of the HCSB especially in its earlier days. It was a mess of a translation where there things written in their that more of a paraphrase than a translation. Thankfully, they have made improvements over the years. I am a fan of a few of their specialty Bibles such as the Mission of God Study Bible and Apologetic Study Bible, but never really got into the HCSB. Of course there was a rumor that the SBC and its publishing company, Lifeway, made this translation to get Southern Baptist Churches away from the NIV especially when the TNIV (Today's New International Version) was coming out (that translation was even a bigger mess than the earlier edition of the HCSB).

In looking over the translation, I would say there are many improvements from the HCSB. The CSB is a readable translation that does indeed remain faithful in some aspects to the original languages of the Bible. I like the fact they went back to a traditional translation of God's name in the Old Testament and Messiah in the New Testament. I like that they make any Old Testament reference in the New boldface, which for this reference Bible, it will be a huge advantage.

The translators of the CSB wanted to balance the precision of the translation into English with readability, which is normally called the Dynamic Equivalent or thought-for-thought. The CSB translators call it the Optimal Equivalent approach, which means the same thing as thought-for-thought. Do I feel they have accomplished it? I think they have in some aspect, but there are still times the CSB feels like a paraphrase.

One thing about the CSB that I applaud is they stick with the traditional theological words such as justification and sanctification. They have also preserved the word "saint" referring to God's people which something the NIV did in its recent update, which also got started in the TNIV. However, one of the big disappointments was not keeping the word "propitiation" which only appears four times in most word-for-word translations such as the ESV and New American Standard Bible (NASB). They replaced it with "atoning sacrifice" which is what the 1984 edition of the NIV translated propitiation as. You can't you are preserving theological words and while ditching one that is important to the gospel message.

Regarding the gender terms of the Bible, the CSB does a much better job than the NIV mostly. The still have God created man in Genesis 1:26, and have used man when appropriate, however, they have used the term "brothers and sisters" when the Greek word á¼€delfoi is used which has been translated "brethren" in some translations and "brothers" in other ones. I thought this form of gender neutrality is why the SBC was against the TNIV and the updated NIV that they made a resolution not to support it?

In closing, do I think the CSB is better than the HCSB? Yes, I do. Do I think it is a better translation than the NIV? Yes, in fact, if I had to choose between the NIV and CSB, I would take the CSB. Do I think the CSB is a better translation than the ESV? Absolutely not. I personally think the CSB is the NIV for Southern Baptists during its glory days when the NIV was the most sought out translation before its recent updates. I know some of you will disagree with me on my conclusions, but that is the impression that I got as I went through the CSB.

As far as making the switch to the CSB, that won't be happening for me anytime soon unless I keep read it over and over then change my opinion. There are things in the CSB I like and is a huge improvement to the HCSB. There were a lot of good study Bibles in the HCSB and I hope that continues for the CSB.

Thanks B&H Publishing Group for letting me review this Bible.

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