I am honored to lead the Resources Division at LifeWay and serve with a team of leaders who are passionate to serve the Church in Her mission of making disciples. Each Wednesday, I share the heart behind one of the resources our team has developed and give an opportunity for you to register to win a free copy of the resource. This week’s resource is the hardback edition of the award-winning HCSB Study Bible.
For the novice Bible shopper, looking for a Bible can feel a bit like going to a Wal-Mart superstore to pick a box of cereal. With the huge selection, where do you even start?
Not too long ago, the King James Version (KJV) was the go-to Bible for English speakers, but the last few decades have produced many new Bible translations. If you are thinking about purchasing a Bible for yourself or as a gift, here is a quick guide to help you understand some of the choices available. There are three major categories that represent different approaches to translating the biblical revelation (originally recorded in Hebrew and Greek) into English.
1. Formal Equivalence
A Formal Equivalence translation takes a word-for-word approach—that is, for each Hebrew or Greek word in the biblical text, the translators have sought an equivalent English word that will communicate the same idea. This is sometimes called a “literal” translation, but the only “literal” translation is a Hebrew or Greek and English interlinear, which is virtually unreadable due to word order and syntax.
The King James Version (KJV) falls into this camp. In more recent years, the New American Standard Bible (NASB) has become a popular study Bible because of its “formal” approach.
A recent Bible translation growing in popularity is the English Standard Version (ESV). The ESV is more understandable for a modern reader than the others.
A paraphrase is a very free rendering of the biblical text in thought-for-thought approach.
In other words, the paraphrase is more concerned with expressing the ideas of the text than the actual words.
The first well-known paraphrase was The Living Bible (LB). The New Living Translation (NLT) was later published as a revision of the LB to enhance the accuracy of the text while retaining its readability.
The most popular paraphrase of recent years is The Message by Eugene Peterson. While not designed for serious study (even Peterson has said as much), it’s a common choice for devotional reading.
3. Dynamic Equivalence
This category seeks to take a middle road between a word-for-word translation and a thought-for-thought approach. For example, where the biblical text may name a specific cost (100 denarii), this category might say “four months of a worker’s wages” to make the cost more understandable for the reader.
The best-known Bible in this category is the New International Version (NIV), and was the first modern translation to truly overtake the KJV as the English-speaking Bible king.
The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) uses a translation philosophy called “Optimal Equivalence.” That means the HCSB aims to strike the perfect balance between word-for-word (faithfulness) and thought-for-thought (clarity), with the conviction that a Bible translation doesn’t have to choose between the two. The HCSB is also an original translation from best available Greek and Hebrew texts.
Don’t let the variety of options discourage you from choosing a Bible for yourself or as a gift for someone else. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. Whichever Bible translation you choose, God’s Word will still make a difference in your life. As D.L. Moody once said, “The Bible will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from the Bible.”
Click here or fill out the form below by the end of today (January 27th) to register to win 1 of 5 copies of the hardcover edition of the HCSB Study Bible.