Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

St Jonny asked about the HCSB bible. Here’s a little info…

  1. A little bit of background and the people behind it
  2. It’s textual basis
  3. Some sample verses/comparisons

Firstly, both Jonny and I got the acronym wrong – it’s HCSB not HBCS or HSCB!! Secondly, I’m getting the info for this blog post from the HCSB website and Wikipedia, so go there for more info.


The complete HCSB was published in 2004 (the NT in 1999) making it a relatively new translation (the NIV was published in 1978 and ESV in 2001).

It was produced mainly by people associated with the Southern Baptist Convention and was partly intended to compete against the NIV which many thought was doing wrong by introducing gender neutral vocabulary.

The translation aims to be somewhere between formal and functional equivalence. This allows the translators to pick and choose whichever method will yield greater clarity. This is more healthy than always assuming that, e.g., a formal equivalence translation will be most clear. (Remember that the primary point is translation not transliteration. The aim is to convey the meaning of the original language into the receptor language, not the word order).

Textual Basis

The HCSB uses as its textual bases NA27/UBS4 and BHS5 – which is good. These are the most up-to-date eclectic texts of Greek and Hebrew respectively. Initially, though, the translation was going to use the Majority Text as it’s underlying Greek. Depending on your opinion of textual criticism and Greek texts, this may or may not impress you.


Most translations of the bible into English are tied up with some political issues. Someone things x version is wrong for this or that; or it is translated by Joe Blogs who is a bit dodgy etc…

Yet despite all that, all English translations have something to offer. They should all be consulted at various times to see how different people handle the text.

The HCSB is no different. It isn’t the definative translation, but it’s useful to have access to to aid an accurate and careful handling of the Word.

Personally, I quite like it as it’s easy to read and understand. Also, I like that it uses Yahweh in the OT instead of the superstitious ‘LORD’.

[Small disclaimer: I haven’t done exhaustive research into exactly how consistently the HCSB keeps to its philosphy, I]


2 thoughts on “Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

  1. Cheers Simon, that’s really helpful. It’s certainly gonna go on my ‘Bibles to consult’ list. I’m quite keen on the gender neutral initiatives, so that side of things is a shame. But as you said, most translations do come from a political issue, which is unfortunate but like church plants from church splits can give positive consequences!

    And at least we all know the acronym isn’t HSBC, cos that’s the world’s local Bible…I mean Bank!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s