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Why the HCSB Changed to the CSB

Changes from the HCSB to the CSB

With the goals of increased fidelity to the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts and increased clarity for today’s readers, the Translation Oversight Committee has updated the text of the Holman Christian Standard Bible. This translation, renamed the Christian Standard Bible, incorporates advances in biblical scholarship and input from Bible scholars, pastors, and readers to sharpen both accuracy and readability. In addition to a verse-by-verse review, the translation team also made changes to the HCSB text in the following areas:

Capitalization of Pronouns Referring to God

The original text of Scripture does not distinguish pronouns referring to God by capitalization. Most Bible translations (including the King James Version) have followed this example and do not capitalize pronouns that refer to God. The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) adopts the traditional approach of not capitalizing pronouns and referents for two primary reasons. First, the original text of Scripture is not always clear about to whom a particular pronoun may be referring; translations that capitalize any reference to a divine person are often forced into making unnecessary judgment calls in passages where the interpretation is debatable. Second, since Scripture sometimes includes prophecies that have double fulfillment, the choice to capitalize a pronoun can have the unintended outcome of erasing the additional, non-divine meaning. Read more.

Use of “Tongues” Instead of “Languages” in Some Texts

The HCSB rendered the lalein + glossa construction as “languages” rather than the traditional “tongues” because the translators saw “tongues” as an archaic way of referring to verbal communication. The translators, representing a variety of denominations, did not intend by the use of “languages” to exclude charismatic views of ecstatic speech. Because “tongues” is an appropriate translation and is the word used in every other major English Bible translation, the CSB Translation Oversight Committee elected to adopt the traditional rendering and avoid any appearance of theological bias. Read more.

Use of “Yahweh” as God’s Personal Name

Traditionally, English Bible translations have chosen not to supply vowels in order make the name of God (YHWH) pronounceable; they simply render this name as a title (LORD). The CSB Translation Oversight Committee chose to come into alignment with other English translations, departing from the HCSB practice of utilizing “Yahweh” in the text. The HCSB was inconsistent, rendering YHWH as “Yahweh” in only 656 of 6,000+ occurrences of YHWH, because full consistency would be overwhelming to the reader. Yet feedback from readers also showed that the unfamiliarity of “Yahweh” was an obstacle to reading the HCSB. In addition, when quoting Old Testament texts that include an occurrence of YHWH, the New Testament renders YHWH with the word kurios, which is a title (Lord) rather than a personal name. This supports the direction of bringing the CSB is in line with most English translations, rendering YHWH as LORD. Read more.

Rendering Doulos as “Servant” Instead of “Slave”

In our context, the word “slave” primarily brings to mind our history of race-based slavery. The theologically appropriate connotation of the word is lost on most readers. In light of this obstacle, it seemed best to the Translation Oversight Committee to choose a word that is less apt to cause distraction and misunderstanding. Furthermore, the choice to render doulos as “servant” rather than “slave” aligns with the Old Testament’s use of ‘eved in reference to followers of God, and the New Testament’s use of a Greek word specifically meaning “servant” rather than “slave” when quoting from the Old Testament. The CSB retains the use of “slave” in contexts where slavery or a slave are clearly in view, but for references to Christian discipleship, “servant” is used. Read more.

Translating Gender Language into English

The Christian Standard Bible retains a traditional approach to translating gender language into English. Masculine terms (Father, Son, King, etc.) and pronouns (he, him, his) are retained whenever they refer to God. To improve accuracy, the Translation Oversight Committee chose to avoid being unnecessarily specific in passages where the original context did not exclude females. When Scripture presents principles or generic examples that are not restricted to males, the CSB does not use “man,” “he,” or other masculine terms. At the same time, the translators did not make third person masculine pronouns inclusive by rendering them as plurals (they, them), because they believed it was important to retain the individual and personal sense of these expressions. Read more.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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