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2017 Christian Standard Bible (CSB): Everything We Know So Far

The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) has been my primary public use translation for most of the last decade. I teach from it every Sunday at church. My default workspace in Accordance features the HCSB in parallel with a combined Hebrew and Greek text. It's not perfect, and I always reserve the right to correct it (or any translation) on the fly, but--as I've explained elsewhere--I value it for its readability as well as willingness to break with traditional wording (such as in John 3:16) for sake of accuracy. 

There's not been a whole lot of information released about the upcoming update to the HCSB other than the fact that Lifeway is dropping the "H" in favor of simply calling it the CSB, Christian Standard Bible. If memory serves, this was the original plan back in the early days when the late Arthur Farstad was still in charge of the project, but I could be mistaken. 

As I've indicated, we don't know too much about the CSB, but I thought that I might use this space to lay out as much as we do know up to this point. 

Official website and not-so-secure, retailer-only section of the website:

Press release

Launch date

Announcement in January 2017 with printed editions following in March. This allows stores to clear out print inventory of the HCSB over the Christmas buying season. 

Forthcoming print editions

Nearly 100 coming from Lifeway with more from Baker in 2018. Besides multiple text editions, there is a new CSB Study Bible, Essential Teen Study Bible, evangelistic editions, and more than one edition aimed at children. 

I'm surprised that I don't see a Minister's edition yet among the pre-pub listings. I teach from the current HCSB Minister's Bible at church.

Forthcoming Bible software editions

No word yet on electronic editions, but presumably the usual bunch: Accordance, Logos, OliveTree, and Wordearch. Lifeway owns WordSearch, so I'm sure they will have it, but I hope the CSB is licensed to other platforms, too. 

Reason for dropping "Holman" from the name

Official reason:

"We are proud of the heritage of Holman Bible Publishers, which dates back to 1743, making us the oldest North American Bible publisher. While we are retaining that name for our publishing entity, the Holman name in the Bible translation name often created more questions than answers (who was Mr. Holman?). 'Christian Standard Bible' removes some of those questions and increases appeal to the broad audience that the CSB is designed to serve."

Probable reason: "Holman" is associated with Southern Baptists. Dropping "Holman" fits better with the diversity of translators who produced the H/CSB and will hopefully open the door for more greater use among a diverse representation of churches and denominations. 

Reason for update

Official reason:

"We are committed to improving our translation based on advances in biblical scholarship, and input from Bible scholars, pastors, and readers. Taking all of these items into consideration, the CSB has improved on the HCSB’s faithfulness to the original text and clarity for a modern audience."

Translation method

As with the HCSB, Lifeway continues to use the designation Optimal Equivalence as a description of the CSB:

"In the many places throughout Scripture where a word-for-word rendering is clearly understandable, a literal translation is used. When a word-for-word rendering might obscure the meaning for a modern audience, a more dynamic translation is used."

This means it is a median translation (the best kind in my opinion) balancing between formal and dynamic equivalence. This is similar to the method used for the NIV, NET Bible, and many other modern translations. 

Significant changes between the HCSB and CSB

Not publicly known yet. The only verse quoted on the official website is part of Revelation 22:6, which reads the same in both versions: “Then he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true.’”

I would hope they choose to translate ἀδελφοί as the more accurate "brothers and sisters" when the context warrants it, and I hope they stick to their guns and keep שֵׁכָר and σίκερα correctly translated as "beer" in Lev 10:9; Num 6:3; 28:7; Deut 14:26; 29:6; Judg 13:4, 7, 14; 1 Sam 1:15; Prov 20:1; 31:4, 6; Isa 1:22; 5:11, 22; 24:9; 28:7; 29:9; 56:12; Mic 2:11; and Luke 1:15 as the HCSB does now. This still surprises me for a translation owned by a Baptist publishing firm, but I respect their commitment to accuracy. 

Identity of translators

No one has publicly been named, but the translators have been described as "100 scholars from 17 denominations."

I will continue to post updates as I find out new information. If I have left anything significant out, please let me know in the comments.

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Reader Comments (12)


August 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterR. Mansfield

Loved reading your insights here. Just you have a "wish list" of changes you'd like to see made (or avoided)?

August 11, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChad

Glad to see you blogging again!

My question is why the need for a complete update of the (H)CSB after only 14 years since it's publication and 8 years since its last revision? The NLT suffers from multiple update-itis as well. Contrast the RSV/NRSV (27 years before complete updatealbeit with some revisions) and the NIV (appeared in 1977, revised 1984, completely updated in 2011, not counting the TNIV <sigh>).

I'm not opposed to publishers doing these complete updates to their translations. I just wish they would issue them at a decent interval of 20-25 years. I can't escape the uneasy feeling these frequent updates are more due to the marketing needs of the publishers rather than advances in scholarship and/or changes in the English language....

Ironically, I just learned that the ESV text has now been made permanent as of summer 2016.

September 5, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbeagle42420

I am a layperson, and use the HCSB quite a lot.

I was reading something from Trevin Wax's blog, where he quoted from Joel 2:3-4 from the CSB (not HCSB). There, Joel 2:4 reads "...abounding in faithful love..." rather than the HCSB reading " in faithful love..."

Of course one little change can't be taken as indicative of overall changes, but "abounding" is more literary than "rich". If the level of English in the CSB ends up a click or two higher than in HCSB , that wouldn't bother me.

That's just a small change in one verse, but thought I'd share it.

September 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMartin

I have a strong feeling that the CSB is going to be a major overhaul of the HCSB.

October 4, 2016 | Registered CommenterR. Mansfield

Like you, Rick, I am quite a fan of the HCSB. However, I am very disappointed in the CSB website that Holman set up months ago. I assumed we would see some updates from time to time about how the project of updating the HCSB was going. So far, all they've got is a groovy logo and a couple paragraphs of copy. I've not been a huge fan of the CEB, but while they were working on that version several years ago, they did a great job of keeping readers informed about how the project was going. You would think a publisher like B&H would put a little more work into their website.

October 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCory Howell

I suspect you may be right about the 'major overhaul', Rick. I believe I remember you commenting in your review of the REB that as Bible versions are revised they tend to become more conservative. Perhaps we will see a retreat over the expanded use of the name Yahweh in the Old Testament?

October 10, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbeagle42420

Do you know if the CSB will restore evocative Os, or Ohs? Personally I like them and feel like they convey more emotion, for instance, "Create in me a clean heart O God", sounds like a heartfelt plea but removing the O then makes it sound like an impersonal command to God, a much different feeling. I don't know why they removed these in the HCSB, the ESV kept them in there which is the main reason I like it better. Restoring those would make it the HCSB/CSB my favorite translation but I fear they won't restore them.

Thanks for listening, God Bless!

Peter Schad

November 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Schad

I bought the new disciple workbook called disciples path: the journey from lifeway and it says the verses quoted in it are from the CSB copyright 2017. I didn't know so when it told me to memorize 2 Corinthians 5:17 and it quoted the verse, I did. Later, I grabbed my HCSB to double check my memory and I realized that they weren't the same. That is when I checked the copyright page.

December 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDustin

Peter Schad, until I get a searchable digital text, it's difficult to know for certain. However, in Psalm 51:10, which you reference in your comment, the CSB still reads the same as the HCSB:

God, create a clean heart for me
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

December 7, 2016 | Registered CommenterR. Mansfield

Thanks for this, Rick. I've always been fond of the HCSB, hoping that future revisions will make it my Bible of choice. Perhaps this revision just might do it. ;-)

December 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTC Robinson

How is Psalms 1 translated in the CSB, is it still using `happy', and has inclusive language be deployed here? I am still undecided whether to use NIV or CSB as my main Bible. But thus far, the changes in CSB look promising..

Thanks for your sharing.

January 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLeo Wee Fah

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