Holman Christian Standard Bible®
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hcsb Holman Christian Standard Bible®
published by B&H Publishing Group


Accordance is proud to be associated with the first new translation into English from the original languages in many years. Not only do we offer the translation with our software, we were also closely involved with the translation effort itself.

Since the first release of the New Testament in 2000, this new translation has grown rapidly in popularity. Readers find that it is indeed: "Accurate, yet highly readable, it's a translation committed to leaving both the grace and gravity of the original languages intact while carefully creating a smooth flow of wording for the reader."

B&H Publishing Group President Ken Stephens credits the translation's astounding growth of the past four years to its acceptance in Christian circles everywhere. "We find open arms for the Holman Christian Standard Bible in denominations of all stripes. Its clarity and faithfulness is so apparent that pastors and laypeople alike take to the Holman CSB immediately. "

The following article is taken from the publisher's introduction.


Introduction to the Holman Christian Standard Bible®

The Bible is God's revelation to man. It is the only book that gives us accurate information about God, man's need, and God's provision for that need. It provides us with guidance for life and tells us how to receive eternal life. The Bible can do these things because it is God's inspired Word, inerrant in the original manuscripts.

The Bible describes God's dealings with the ancient Jewish people and the early Christian church. It tells us about the great gift of God's Son, Jesus Christ, who fulfilled Jewish prophecies of the Messiah. It tells us about the salvation He accomplished through His death on the cross, His triumph over death in the resurrection, and His promised return to earth. It is the only book that gives us reliable information about the future, about what will happen to us when we die, and about where history is headed.

Bible translation is both a science and an art. It is a bridge that brings God's Word from the ancient world to the world today. In dependence on God to accomplish this sacred task, Holman Bible Publishers presents the Holman Christian Standard Bible [Holman CSB®], a new English translation of God's Word.

Textual base of the Holman CSB

The textual base for the Holman CSB New Testament [NT] is the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th edition, and the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament, 4th corrected edition. The text for the Holman CSB Old Testament [OT] is the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 5th edition. At times, however, the translators have followed an alternative manuscript tradition, disagreeing with the editors of these texts about the original reading.

Where there are significant differences among Hebrew [Hb] and Aramaic [Aram] manuscripts of the OT or among Greek [Gk] manuscripts of the NT, the translators have followed what they believe is the original reading and have indicated the main alternative(s) in footnotes. In a few places in the NT, large square brackets indicate texts that the Holman CSB translation team and most biblical scholars today believe were not part of the original text. However, these texts have been retained in brackets in the Holman CSB because of their undeniable antiquity and their value for tradition and the history of NT interpretation in the church. The Holman CSB uses traditional verse divisions found in most Protestant Bibles.

Goals of this translation

The goals of this translation are:

  • to provide English-speaking people across the world with an accurate, readable Bible in contemporary English
  • to equip serious Bible students with an accurate translation for personal study, private devotions, and memorization
  • to give those who love God's Word a text that has numerous reader helps, is visually attractive on the page, and is appealing when heard
  • to affirm the authority of Scripture as God's Word and to champion its absolute truth against social or cultural agendas that would compromise its accuracy

The name, Holman Christian Standard Bible, captures these goals: Holman Bible Publishers presents a new Bible translation, for Christian and English-speaking communities, which will be a standard in Bible translations for years to come.

Why is there a need for another English translation of the Bible?

There are several good reasons why Holman Bible publishers invested its resources in a modern language translation of the Bible:

1. Each generation needs a fresh translation of the Bible in its own language.
The Bible is the world's most important book, confronting each individual and each culture with issues that affect life, both now and forever. Since each new generation must be introduced to God's Word in its own language, there will always be a need for new translations such as the Holman Christian Standard Bible. The majority of Bible translations on the market today are revisions of translations from previous generations. The Holman CSB is a new translation for today's generation.

2. English, one of the world's greatest languages, is rapidly changing, and Bible translations must keep in step with those changes.
English is the first truly global language in history. It is the language of education, business, medicine, travel, research, and the Internet. More than 1.3 billion people around the world speak or read English as a primary or secondary language. The Holman CSB seeks to serve many of those people with a translation they can easily use and understand.

English is also the world's most rapidly changing language. The Holman CSB seeks to reflect recent changes in English by using modern punctuation, formatting, and vocabulary, while avoiding slang, regionalisms, or changes made specifically for the sake of political or social agendas. Modern linguistic and semantic advances have been incorporated into the Holman CSB, including modern grammar.

3. Rapid advances in biblical research provide new data for Bible translators.
This has been called the "information age, " a term that accurately describes the field of biblical research. Never before in history has there been as much information about the Bible as there is today—from archaeological discoveries to analysis of ancient manuscripts to years of study and statistical research on individual Bible books. Translations made as recently as 10 or 20 years ago do not reflect many of these advances in biblical research. The translators of the Holman CSB have taken into consideration as much of this new data as possible.

4. Advances in computer technology have opened a new door for Bible translation.
The Holman CSB has used computer technology and telecommunications in its creation perhaps more than any Bible translation in history. Electronic mail was used daily and sometimes hourly for communication and transmission of manuscripts. An advanced Bible software program, Accordance®, was used to create and revise the translation at each step in its production. A developmental copy of the Holman CSB itself was used within Accordance to facilitate cross-checking during the translation process—something never done before with a Bible translation.

Translation Philosophy of the Holman CSB

Most discussions of Bible translations speak of two opposite approaches: formal equivalence and dynamic equivalence. Although this terminology is meaningful, Bible translations cannot be neatly sorted into these two categories any more than people can be neatly sorted into two categories according to height or weight. Holman Bible Publishers is convinced there is room for another category of translation philosophies that capitalizes on the strengths of the other two.

1. Formal Equivalence:
Often called "word-for-word " (or "literal ") translation, the principle of formal equivalence seeks as nearly as possible to preserve the structure of the original language. It seeks to represent each word of the translated text with an exact equivalent word in the translation so that the reader can see word for word what the original human author wrote. The merits of this approach include its consistency with the conviction that the Holy Spirit did inspire the very words of Scripture in the original manuscripts. It also provides the English Bible student some access to the structure of the text in the original language. Formal equivalence can achieve accuracy to the degree that English has an exact equivalent for each word and that the grammatical patterns of the original language can be reproduced in understandable English. However, it can sometimes result in awkward, if not incomprehensible, English or in a misunderstanding of the author's intent. The literal rendering of ancient idioms is especially difficult.

2. Dynamic or Functional Equivalence:
Often called "thought-for-thought " translation, the principle of dynamic equivalence rejects as misguided the desire to preserve the structure of the original language. It proceeds by distinguishing the meaning of a text from its form and then translating the meaning so that it makes the same impact on modern readers that the ancient text made on its original readers. Strengths of this approach include a high degree of clarity and readability, especially in places where the original is difficult to render word for word. It also acknowledges that accurate and effective translation requires interpretation. However, the meaning of a text cannot always be neatly separated from its form, nor can it always be precisely determined. A biblical author may have intended multiple meanings. In striving for readability, dynamic equivalence also sometimes overlooks some of the less prominent elements of meaning. Furthermore, lack of formal correspondence to the original makes it difficult to verify accuracy and thus can affect the usefulness of the translation for in-depth Bible study.

3. Optimal Equivalence:
In practice, translations are seldom if ever purely formal or dynamic but favor one theory of Bible translation or the other to varying degrees. Optimal equivalence as a translation philosophy recognizes that form cannot be neatly separated from meaning and should not be changed (for example, nouns to verbs or third person "they " to second person "you ") unless comprehension demands it. The primary goal of translation is to convey the sense of the original with as much clarity as the original text and the translation language permit. Optimal equivalence appreciates the goals of formal equivalence but also recognizes its limitations.

Optimal equivalence starts with an exhaustive analysis of the text at every level (word, phrase, clause, sentence, discourse) in the original language to determine its original meaning and intention (or purpose). Then relying on the latest and best language tools and experts, the nearest corresponding semantic and linguistic equivalents are used to convey as much of the information and intention of the original text with as much clarity and readability as possible. This process assures the maximum transfer of both the words and thoughts contained in the original.

The Holman CSB uses optimal equivalence as its translation philosophy. When a literal translation meets these criteria, it is used. When clarity and readability demand an idiomatic translation, the reader can still access the form of the original text by means of a footnote with the abbreviation "Lit. "

The gender language policy in Bible translation

Some people today ignore the Bible's teachings on distinctive roles of men and women in family and church and have an agenda to eliminate those distinctions in every arena of life. These people have begun a program to engineer the removal of a perceived male bias in the English language. The targets of this program have been such traditional linguistic practices as the generic use of "man " or "men, " as well as "he, " "him, " and "his. "

A group of Bible scholars, translators, and other evangelical leaders met in 1997 to respond to this issue as it affects Bible translation. This group produced the "Guidelines for Translation of Gender-Related Language in Scripture " (adopted May 27, 1997 and revised Sept. 9, 1997). The Holman CSB was produced in accordance with these guidelines.

The goal of the Holman CSB translators has not been to promote a cultural ideology but to faithfully translate the Bible. While the Holman CSB avoids using "man " or "he " unnecessarily, the translation does not restructure sentences to avoid them when they are in the text. For example, Holman CSB translators have not changed "him " to "you " or to "them, " neither have they avoided other masculine words such as "father " or "son " by translating them in generic terms such as "parent " or "child. "

History of the Holman Christian Standard Bible

After several years of preliminary development, Holman Bible Publishers, the oldest Bible publisher in America, assembled an international, interdenominational team of 100 scholars, editors, stylists, and proofreaders, all of whom were committed to biblical inerrancy. Outside consultants and reviewers contributed valuable suggestions from their areas of expertise. An executive team then edited, polished, and reviewed the final manuscripts.

Traditional features found in the Holman CSB

In keeping with a long line of Bible publications, the Holman Christian Standard
Bible has retained a number of features found in traditional Bibles:

  1. Traditional theological vocabulary (such as justification, sanctification, redemption, etc.) has been retained in the Holman CSB, since such terms have no translation equivalent that adequately communicates their exact meaning.
  2. Traditional spellings of names and places found in most Bibles have been used to make the Holman CSB compatible with most Bible study tools.
  3. Some editions of the Holman CSB will print the words of Christ in red letters to help readers easily locate the spoken words of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  4. Nouns and personal pronouns that clearly refer to any person of the Trinity are capitalized.
  5. Descriptive headings, printed above each section of Scripture, help readers quickly identify the contents of that section.
  6. Small lower corner brackets: • • indicate words supplied for clarity by the translators (but see below, under Substitution of words in sentences, for supplied words that are not bracketed).
  7. Two common forms of punctuation are used in the Holman CSB to help with clarity and ease of reading: em dashes (a long dash — ) are used to indicate sudden breaks in thought or to help clarify long or difficult sentences. Parentheses are used infrequently to indicate words that are parenthetical in the original languages.

The Holman Christian Standard Bible has several distinctive formatting features:

  1. OT passages quoted in the NT are set in boldface type. OT quotes consisting of two or more lines are block indented.
  2. In dialogue, a new paragraph is used for each new speaker as in most modern publications.
  3. Many passages, such as 1 Co 13, have been formatted as dynamic prose (separate block-indented lines like poetry) for ease in reading and comprehension. Special block-indented formatting has also been used extensively in both the OT and NT to increase readability and clarity in lists, series, genealogies and other parallel or repetitive texts.
  4. Almost every Bible breaks lines in poetry using automatic typesetting programs with the result that words are haphazardly turned over to the next line. In the Holman CSB, special attention has been given to break every line in poetry and dynamic prose so that awkward or unsightly word wraps are avoided and complete units of thought turn over to the next line. The result is a Bible page that is much more readable and pleasing to the eye.
  5. Certain foreign, geographical, cultural, or ancient words are preceded by a superscripted bullet (• Abba) at their first occurrence in each chapter. These words are listed in alphabetical order at the back of the Bible under the heading Holman CSB Bullet Notes. A few important or frequently misunderstood words (• slaves) are marked with a bullet more than one time per chapter.
  6. Italics are used in the text for a transliteration of Greek and Hebrew words ( "Hosanna! " in Jn 12:13) and in footnotes for direct quotations from the biblical text and for words in the original languages (the footnote at Jn 1:1 reads: "The Word (Gk logos) is a title for Jesus… ").
  7. Since the majority of English readers do not need to have numbers and fractions spelled out in the text, the Holman CSB uses a similar style to that of modern newspapers in using Arabic numerals for the numbers 10 and above and in fractions, except in a small number of cases, such as when a number begins a sentence.

For a review of the HCSB click here.

Accordance offers two versions of the HCSB: HCSB and the HCSB tagged with Strong's numbering.


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