ChurchETHOS

HCSB vs. ESV Update

Posted in book review by Nathan Creitz on March 31, 2009

d231828fd7a04b0a79a15110l[Update #2 – 4.28.09] There’s a rumor floating around that the 2nd edition of the Holman Christian Standard Bible will be coming out in September of this year. However, I got an email from Jim Baird, the Vice President of Marketing and Sales, informing me that it won’t be coming out until 2010.

[Update #1 3.31.09] I recently wrote a post about why I love the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation. Will at Anwoth tipped me off to the updated data that the HCSB has now surpassed the English Standard Version on the Christian Bookseller’s Association Best Seller List. You can find their bestseller lists here.

Last month when I wrote my previous post about the HCSB and the ESV, the NIV was #1, the ESV was #5, and the HCSB was #6. Now, the NIV is #1, the HCSB is #2, and the ESV takes sixth place. I predict that we will see the HCSB as the #1 Bible translation of choice within the next year.

Will does a great job of attributing the success of the HCSB to 3 factors:

1. It is readable and appeals to all English speaking Christians.

2. But it is very accurate, not willing to succumb to tradition or doctrinal biases in the translational choices. This appeals to the scholars.

3. Finally, though the marketing from the publisher hasn’t been particularly effective, the viral marketing has been very effective.

I think the ESV appeals to a lot of extremely reformed individuals and has been talked about by their champions (Piper, Driscoll, etc.) But, the HCSB is far superior as a translation because it seems to supercede the calvinism vs. arminianism debate. All translations have a slight bias but the HCSB may be the most unbiased translation ever to be produced in the history of Bible translations. So when I say that I really like it as a translation, I don’t think that’s a biased opinion. 🙂

You can buy the new Holman Christian Standard Bible here.

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4 Responses

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  1. Keith Ellis said, on May 22, 2009 at 9.48 pm

    I was going to post this on the previous post’s thread on this topic, but it seemed to be a bit old, so I’ll put it here. One of the justifications for, and what appear to be negative comments against, the ESV vs HCSB debate seem to be a translational bias based on the theological beliefs of the translator. I appreciate the healthy debate, and the stance that each reading this take on their particular favorite translation. I know from experience that English Bible translations are like good beer, everyone has their particular favorite and has a substantial reason for choosing it. You make the bias point in the previous post as well as this one. I appreciate your stance on this topic, as you seem to have given this a considerable amount of thought. Good for you, Nate. More of us should be like that. I would like to point out a couple of things. First, the history of English translations of the Bible is littered with biased translation. The Geneva Bible came out, with considerable bias and some outright attacks against King James I and his monarchy. He then responds with his own translation, the KJV, which many in the Church, particularly in the South, will insist is the only version that God inspired, and if you use anything else you may as well read the Book of Mormon! Note that this version is oft described as the most inaccurate English translation available (the KJV, not the BoM). It does say a lot that our translations seem to be more accurate, with some such as the NASB being retranslated with time. However, this leads to my other point, these are translations and are no substitute for the original language texts. This is the one and only thing I find that Muslims get right. They are only supposed to use the Arabic version of the Koran, which it the language in which it was written. This leaves no room for translational error, no opportunity for the translator to insert his or her theology into the translation. Christians should be taught Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic early on so that each and every person would be able to read the Bible in the language in which it was written. I am not condemning the practice of translation, it opened the doors to many who were unlearned and allowed a greater percentage of the populace to understand God’s Word. It’s just that it seems translations are sort of a Pandora’s Box. We now have to not only try to interpret what God is saying to us, but if the translator is trying to sway us to his or her system of theology. Which maybe authenticates your argument for the HCSB, I don’t know. I personally use the NASB, NKJV, and the ESV. I’m Presbyterian, so I of course use the ESV because, well, that’s what the pastor uses and I hate it when I get lost when he’s reading Scripture and our translations differ!!! Know what I mean? Anyway, this is more of an essay than a comment, so I’ll go. I’m gonna post this on my blog so that the two people that read it can hopefully get some of this as well. Later

  2. Andy said, on June 23, 2009 at 3.38 pm

    I own the ESV Study Bible and the HCSB Apologetics Study Bible. As far as translation goes, I actually prefer the slightly archaic forms in the ESV, as they lend a somewhat poetic quality. (For similar reasons, I have always been fond of the NKJV.) Both are stellar translations, though, and I’m hoping they chip away at the mediocre NIV, which is still sitting pretty at #1 on those bestseller lists…

  3. Will said, on October 10, 2009 at 6.14 am

    I know I’m really late to this discussion, but I wanted to offer a brief follow up to Keith’s comments.

    I couldn’t agree more that every translation is biased in some ways. I also would LOVE for everyone to be able to know the original languages and study the Bible there. However, that’s not the case we’re in, so we’re stuck translating. Besides, even if we DID know the languages, we would still have to translate it into our own in order to talk about Scripture at all. Plus, even people who know the languages disagree on what the meaning is.

    All that to say, knowing the languages isn’t the answer. (And I’m not saying that because I’m afraid of doing the hard work. I’ve taken 7 years of Greek and 3 years of Hebrew).

    For what it’s worth. I’m also a Presbyterian. Our church officially uses the ESV, but I always take my HCSB with me too. It’s funny to hear our pastor explain a verse and then see that that’s exactly how the HCSB translated it in the first place. 🙂

    I think ESV and HCSB are both good translations, I just prefer the non-archaic forms of the HCSB (sorry, Andy, but I can’t stomach archaic English for long).


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