The Skinny on the New Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
By: Mitch Wiley and Colton Taunton
Finding the right Bible translation can be a lengthy process. Some readers are faithful to a certain version, while others shop around on a consistent basis. No matter where you find yourself on that spectrum, there is a new English translation that is worth considering. Holman Publishers has just released a revision of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, now called the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). We have compiled some information to give you the “skinny” on the new translation and why you might consider using it personally and in your student ministries.
Caveat: While we think the CSB is a faithful, true, and excellent translation, we are not endorsing the CSB over the ESV, NIV, NASB, KJV or any other faithful translation. Our goal is to give you the facts, a feel for the translation, and some snapshots of how it’s unique translation philosophy plays itself out.
The “Optimal” Translation
The CSB pursues what they call an “Optimal” translation. This goal combines literal translation of the original Greek and Hebrew texts with a high readability score. In other words, the goal is to provide a translation that is both technically accurate and widely accessible.
Between the ESV and NIV
The CSB aims to hit a sweet spot between the “word-for-word” translations and “thought- for-thought” translations. In fact, it lands right in the middle between two very popular and excellent translations – the ESV and NIV.
(Images Credit: http://csbible.com/about-the-csb/translation-philosophy/)
Fast Facts on the CSB
- Update to the HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible), which is published by B&H Publishers, a branch of Lifeway Christian Book Stores.
- It is a significant revision based on feedback from pastors, seminaries, and denominations.
- An example of a change is making the change from “Yahweh” to “Lord” in the New Testament.
- 100 of the top conservative scholars were on the translation committee. It was led by Southern Seminary’s Dr. Tom Schreiner and Southwestern Seminary’s Dr. David Allen.
- The CSB has been endorsed by a wide variety Christian speakers and leaders including David Platt, Eric Mason, Daniel Akin, Rachael Myers, and Tony Evans.
- You can order select versions of the CSB on Amazon as of March 1 and many versions will be available at physical Lifeway stores during the month of March.
Sample Verses in Comparison to the ESV
ESV: whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
CSB: God presented him as an atoning sacrifice in his blood, received through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed.
We find the CSB easier to read and understand in this instance. For a teenager, “atoning sacrifice” will come a little easier than “propitiation.” The rest of the verse is also a bit smoother in the CSB.
ESV: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
CSB: For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
This famous verse is more straightforward and definitely rolls off the tongue more smoothly.
ESV: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
CSB: Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
ESV: For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
CSB: For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
The CSB does not replace every masculine term with a gender neutral term, but it has employed them in cases where a masculine term is not necessitated by the text.
ESV: Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.
CSB: How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers!
The vocabulary used here may resonate more easily with modern readers as well as younger readers.
ESV: Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.
CSB: Common people are only a vapor; important people, an illusion. Together on a scale, they weigh less than a vapor.
The CSB is often less wordy and easier to read.
What Do You Think?
Does the CSB hit a sweet spot of “optimal equivalence.”? We think it does, but we invite you to pick up a copy and judge for yourself.
The CSB has found a unique niche in the translation spectrum and market that will likely appeal to many believers. Many consider the NIV too loose with the text and hold that the ESV is too wooden and wordy. Whatever your take, the CSB reads easily, maintains accuracy to the original languages, and is an excellent tool for student ministries.
New Website and App
The CSB has also revamped their marketing, social media presence, website, and new app. The app is available on most smart phones and is great for reading the Bible on the go.
The search for great resources never ends. A wonderful and basic resource for our students is a Bible translation that is accurate and easily understandable. Check out the CSB and see for yourself!