HCSB 2nd Edition — My personal gripes

holman-csb-logoThere has been great anticipation with the release of the HCSB 2nd edition.  I personally enjoy and have made a significant investment in various editions of this bible. For a bit more information on the release of HCSB 2nd edition read here. Also ElShaddai Edwards at He is Sufficient has been compiling a list of other that have posted about the HCSB 2nd edition.

There are a few areas that I did not like that I thought could have been better handle either by changing the main text or simply adding a footnote – which they seem to excel over other translations, the only other bible that exceeds it with footnotes is the NET bible which stands on it’s own and is not a fair comparison.

It boggles my mind as to why they have chosen not to add additional footnotes in certain passages in the 2nd edition, other than I think and I have to presume since I have no proof, that the governing translating committee has a prior hermeneutical and theological basis and/or commitment.

The following issues that I have when read in context do not change the meaning at all.  So you asked why are my feathers so ruffled up?  These are personal gripes and they are not enough for me to abandon the HCSB.  I still think that it is a fine translation and do hope that the 2nd edition makes it even better.

My personal gripe is how they have chosen to deal with the term “tongues”.  Of the four major recent translations ESV, NLT, TNIV & HCSB, they are the only ones that have chosen to translate the Greek γλῶσσα (glōssa) as “[another] language” (1 Cor 14:2 HCSB) and “different kinds of languages” (1 Cor 12:10 HCSB).  Again I want to stress when read in context I don’t believe that the meaning or understanding gets lost.  All other three translations ESV, NLT, TNIV have translated it as “tongues” and with the exception of the ESV both provided the following footnotes NLT “Or in unknown languages”; TNIV “Or in another language ESV had no footnotes which I think they should follow the prior examples.

I may come across as being to petty, or silly in my reasoning, however the HCSB has stated that one of their translations goals are:

to equip serious Bible students with an accurate translation for personal study, private devotions, and memorization

and from their introductory notes regarding footnotes

Footnotes are used to show readers how the original biblical language has been understood in the HCSB

Are the HCSB translators suggesting that “[other] language” is the only accurate way to translate this Greek word?  Or as they put it are showing us how the original biblical language is to be understood?

That was my first one, my second gripe is their lack of willingness in translating or adding a footnote on the Greek term ἀδελφός (adelphos) simply as “brothers”.  According to the notes in the NET bible for 1 Cor. 1:10 (Now I urge you, brothers HCSB — no footnotes) regarding adelphos they say:

Grk “brothers,” but the Greek word may be used for “brothers and sisters” or “fellow Christians” as here…

Again I make the same charge as above, are they suggesting that this is the only accurate way to translate this term?  I understand that they have chosen to follow the “Guidelines for Translation of Gender-Related Language in Scripture”.  But if these guidelines are imposing regulations that restrict them from providing better footnotes then I would highly recommend that they abandon their alliance with this group.  One may argue that this does make a significant understanding of who is being addressed.

Finally my last personal gripe is with the translation of the word “blessed” to “happy”.  NLT uses the word “joy” — “Oh, the joys of those…” which I would almost prefer.

Again I want to stress that none of these are reasons enough for me not to use and appreciate the HCSB.  Would I recommend this translation to any of our Pentecostal or Charismatic churches?  No I would not be reluctant to, and it would not be my first recommendation. As much as I personally like the HCSB I would rather recommend the TNIV, NLT or for that matter even the ESV over this translation. (I would not recommend the ESV over the HCSB) If they would just add the footnotes then I would be more than happy to highly recommend it and I would be “blessed — happy”.


27 thoughts on “HCSB 2nd Edition — My personal gripes

  1. Robert, I’ve consulted several blogs already on samples from this 2nd edition, and I’m somewhat disappointed with what I’ve seen so far.

    I guess it will continue to be way down the list of my choice Bibles.

  2. Aaron says:

    why would you not recommend the HCSB translation to Pentecostal or Charismatic churches.

    I am in a petecostal church that mainly use niv but I think HCSB is much nicer. Epecialy for study along with my NASB and NKJV.

    I know we all have different epinons but i just wonder why you would not recomend it.

  3. Hello Aaron, as I stated above I would not because of their lack of footnotes for “tongues”. I think that they have made a conscious decision on how they would translate this and also have consciously left out any translator notes. They are not following their own guide lines as published in my opinion.

    Again, I also think that HCSB is much better than the NIV, however I would still recommend the TNIV over the HCSB to pentecostal churches, which by the way I attend one. I plan to post some notes soon on many excellent Spirit translations choices that the TNIV has done.

  4. Scott says:

    The reason they went with the word “languages” is because that is exactly what the original word in the Greek (glossa, et.al.) means. The word “tongues” carries way too much denominational baggage for me. I’m glad they made the change.

  5. Scott I understand the Greek behind the English usage. BTW: This was not an update, it has always been that way (i.e. in the first edition as well). All of the other recent translations such as NLT, ESV, TNIV all use Tongues, so if you ask me it’s the HCSB translators that are carrying too much denominational baggage (which will only continue to propagate the idea that this is a Baptist translation and not useful for other denominations). I don’t think that is 100% true, but that is what many in the blogosphere perceive it to be. But even if it was a Baptist translation there is nothing wrong with that. You can read some thoughts about that here The HCSB: with strong baptist influence.

    I would even be fine if they just added a footnote as I stated in my original post and I don’t think that is asking to much. Again, I don’t have a real issue with it, but why no footnotes considering they have some many footnotes? And in my opinion following this method of translating this word as language does not always make sense when read, for example:

    Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for languages, they will cease;
    1 Cor 13:8 (HCSB)

    Am I to understand from the reading of this text that “languages” are going to cease? Really? One day none of us will ever use any sort of language to communicate? Since they have followed this pattern they were forced to also translate it in this manner or else they would not be consistent.

    A full reading of the text of 1 Corinthians it becomes very clear that the “[other] language” that Paul is talking about is a gift of the Spirit, and not a learned or known language (1 Cor. 12:10; 13:1; 14:2). Whether one agrees if it is the same phenomenon of what Pentecostals or Charismatic’s experience today is a moot point.

  6. I personally like consistency in a translation. As always, with any study, the context needs to be taken into account as you pointed out.

    I assume the HCSBse reads the same in 1 Cor 13:8?

  7. Joe, it reads the same. I do too, it just that I don’t prefer their choice, or lack of footnotes. I may just stick with the TNIV as my primary bible, and consult with the HCSB for studying and comparison purposes.

  8. That is pretty much what we are left with, there is no perfect translation and to do the text justice we really should be consulting more than one main translation.

    While I don’t like certain choices they(HCSB) have made, they are less in number compared to other translations, for me anyway. I understand others could say the same about another translation just as easily 🙂

    I’m trying to think of other passages other than Eph 1:11 where the HCSB differed from the traditional rendering in the first edition.

  9. Joe, I appreciate your interaction and again I totally agree with you. The HCSB is almost there for me, but oh well in today’s market you have to do your best.

    Plus the TNIV is getting greater following from many respectable scholars and the publishers seem to be working very will with the consumers. Something I think that HCSB lacks. By far ESV has done the best job, and one only hopes that the others would follow in their example.

  10. Terry T says:


    Looking at what I can see on the blogs showing the comparisons of first edition to second, I too find myself disappointed.

    I have been using the HCSB as my primary text for a while now and was greatly anticipating the update. After looking at what we know I am strongly considering moving back to the NIV. I know that the HCSB is better in many places but I still have some concerns. The ESV though a good translation just doesn’t read “like the mother talking to her child in the kitchen” to paraphrase Luther. I thought that was a strong point for the Holman it seems to read like we speak. That is what I need as I teach high school kids and military folks – plain speaking while being as accurate and transparent to the originals as linguistically possible – that is the sense that I have had with the HCSB. I just think that they were a little too timid in their revision, I may wrong.
    I am at a loss now as to a primary text – recommendations?

  11. Terry T says:

    Maybe I am being a little hasty, if it is good enough to use now why should I change simple because the revision wasn’t as aggressive as I thought. After all, I am “just a layman” not schooled in Greek or Hebrew.

  12. Terry, I agree if you really don’t care for the changes just stick with the first edition.

    As for recommendations, I would recommend you try the TNIV, NET Bible, or even the NLT. These are all fine translations.

  13. From what I have seen, the revisions generally leave you with a more readable translation, not that the current edition isn’t readable, but there are some obvious places where better english could’ve been used. I don’t think it needed aggressive revisions, or perhaps I am missing something…

  14. Joe, I am with you on this. I don’t that it needed aggressive revisions either. I think Terry may just have minor issues with the revision, therefore wondering if he should even bother with the 2nd edition.

    Even the ones I have are not enough to keep me from this translation. Although it may not be my primary one, it is still one I will use a great deal. I do like it very much.

  15. I would reserve judgement on the HCSB 2e until the final version is released early next year.

    According to Dr. Ed Blum in an email response I received from him to my inquiring about a release date, the publishers have postponed it’s release in order to review all the suggestions that the bloggers have made concerning word changes, and to formalize a more aggressive marketing strategy.

    They are doing their best to accomodate us and our wishes ~ which is something I don’t overtly find in any of the other translations.


  16. Scott, yes I would like to see what changes the make on the final version. I do have a digital copy of the 2nd edition. I do like the HCSB very much, I just have moved away from it being my primary bible and now use the TNIV.

    I am looking forward to having a hard copy of the 2nd edition.

  17. Kevin Grady says:

    Guys I know what you are saying. However, I read from the Editor of the HCSB, that the words “tongue or tongues” was something for the old English language, like, he spoke in his native tongue or German was his native tongue. But in today’s world, people do not use the word tongue. You do not say he is a master in the German tongue. You would say he has a master in the German language. They said that is their reason for saying that. Also about Happy… in the greek, that is what is say, Happy, not Blessed which is another KJ word and not one we used today. Sure we say I am blessed but we do not say, Blessed is the man who does….. Happy I know sounds funny because in the English word… Happy means… Joyful or we think of someone who is Happy all the time and those kinds of people get on our nerves. According to them, and I am not a greek expert but they say it is REALLY translated Happy and not Blessed. For the most part I think the HCSB is very good. However I am too a big TNIV man, but as of yesterday that is being taken from us. The TNIV is a dead translation. IBS and Zondervan are killing the TNIV as well as the 1984 NIV for the NEW NIV 2011. Who knows what it will be like? I think from what I have read and seen, the NEW NIV will be more correct like the TNIV but not as gender inclusive. They had to do something since it has been blacked listed by so many people that in order to keep it going, they had to do something. So look at it as New Coke and Coke Classic. The thing is, if they kill all production of the old NIV and only have the NEW NIV and if it learns more to the gender inclusive like the TNIV is, there will be a major change in churchs from the NIV to either HCSB or ESV. Just my thoughts tho.

  18. Kevin, it is very important IBS and Zondervan handle this transition very carefully. I agree that if they don’t manage the perception properly it may be the death of the NIV. But I think the shift will be NLT or ESV.

    Regarding tongues I still think the HCSB goes too far, for instance does this make any sense at all: 1 Corinthians 1:8 “…as for languages, they will cease;” Really languages will cease, so how exactly are we going to communicate with each other.

  19. Kevin Grady says:

    Maybe so about the tongues. It does sound a bit strange .. guess it is because we are so used to tongues. As far as the NLT or ESV, I really think the ESV is already gaining ground but there are too many places that it sounds like the KJV and sounds outdated for today’s language. And the NLT is too liberial. I like it, but as a pastor I feel it is great to read but not that great to study. I think people will just stick with their NIVs or go with HCSB.

  20. david york says:

    I like the HCSB, particularly in the NT. It makes you look at a number of familiar passages in a fresh light. I am looking forward to the upcoming NIV revision. I used the NIV frequently when I was younger until I began leaning towards more literal translations. The TNIV to me however, seemed to me to go too far towards the gender neutral side of the spectrum. As for the ESV, after reading it in tandem with the NASB and others I’ve found that in the OT particularly, it has some odd, less likely readings. I still consider it a good translation though.
    I have found that what ever version you use God still speaks to you, past the errors and through the frailty of man.

    • David, yes I think that is true that God will speak to us through his word regardless of which translation we use. The question is to fine one that we best understand, so that we don’t misunderstand what God is saying 😉

  21. Texas Tom says:

    1 Corinthians 13:8… languages will cease… In context it is very informative. Just as in the line … as for knowledge, it will come to an end.” The concept of languages and knowledge ending are puzzling…to the mortal, not so with the Devine. Have faith that this is part and parcel of the reward for faith and our earthly lives as a result of that faith. Trust. He will verify.

  22. Scott says:

    I really want to like the CSB because of its translation philosophy and conservative scholarship; but I’m pentecostal, and every time I try to get into the CSB, I find myself turned off at the “unknown languages” substitution for tongues. Although it is an accurate rendering, it reads horribly and I can’t help but think of it as jab at pentecostals / charismatics. I hope I’m wrong and I am only being a critical and too sensitive, but that’s truly how I feel when I get to all those passages. They also altered the “binding and loosing” passages which are important for many pentecostals, so that kind of makes me wonder if there was an agenda. I am thankful, however, that this translation is out there and bringing souls into the Kingdom.

    • Scott, I understand but I do still think that it is a translation worth owning and at least they have added the bullet note for “languages”. It is awkward reading in certain places and that is where I still think that the TNIV and the NLT excel.

  23. For getting up to scratch on gender accuracy I rate the highest the NCV (92%) with the CEV & TNIV joint 2nd (88%), & the NLT at 83%. The HCSB scored a mere 21%, and the NKJV a woeful 3%. That said, outside my tests of properly moving from masculine to dual gender, I suspect the CEV’s goes beyond “getting up to scratch” and needlessly strays into libby country. The TNIV missed ways of combining gender accuracy & keeping Grudem happy on numbers, and is sadly paying with its life.

    Re glōssa my own pentecostal/charismatic background is happy with languages (plural) ceasing: is Paul’s reference not to the multiplicity of Babel & its finite divisions that one language of perfect communication will resolve? Would ‘tongues disappearing’ mean we’ll have nothing between our teeth? As a Pentecostal I long preferred ‘language’ to ‘tongues’, indeed expanded a bit is even better, eg ‘supernaturally speak languages they have not learnt’ or such – but where does translation end & commentary begin? Where I do think ‘tongues’ should be the translation (with language footnoted) is in Ac.2 to connect with ‘tongues of fire’ – languages of fire was surely not Luke’s meaning.

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