A new Bible translation

A new Bible translation has been published:  The Christian Standard Bible.

This is a thorough scholarly revision of the Holman Standard Bible.  It’s published by LifeWay, the Southern Baptist publisher, but the new version reportedly has had input from scholars from 17 different denominations, including Lutheran, and the translation was scrutinized for any denominational bias.

The new version employs what it calls an “Optimal Equivalence” approach to translation, rendering sentences literally except for when they would be confusing for modern readers, in which case a more dynamic equivalent approach is used.

You can read the Christian Standard Bible online.  Here are some verse comparisons

For more information, go to the website.  Check out the FAQs.

What do you think about this translation?  I’ll give you some of my thoughts after the jump.

I appreciate the desire of modern translators to make the Bible clear to today’s readers.  But there are places where the Biblical text is difficult.  And that difficulty, which yields different interpretations, needs to be translated also.  Otherwise, the translators are imposing their own interpretations.  (In saying this, I am not by any means denying the doctrine of the “perspecuity of Scripture.”  In what we need to know for our salvation the Bible is plenty clear.  If the Bible is clear in itself, we don’t need to “make it clear.”)

For example, the English professor in me is interested in the Bible’s metaphors and other figures of speech.  Those are inspired also!  And to explain them away and thus to leave them out seems to me to be a travesty.

The Hebrew original says that Adam “knew” his wife.  Yes, that’s a figure of speech for sex.  But the Biblical term “know” says much about how God intended sex to be.  The new CSB says that Adam and Eve were “intimate” with each other, a euphemism that I suppose has some of the sense of “knowing” and is better than other versions that I’ve read:  “slept with”; or “had sex with.”

But do you know which translation does the best in preserving the figurative language that is everywhere in the original languages? The King James Bible!  Perhaps that’s what people mean when they say it is “poetic,” but the poetry is part of the inspired, inerrant meaning!  I’m thinking about going back to that version in my devotional reading.  “But it’s in 17th century English!”  That’s OK.  I’m a 17th century English scholar.

The new CSB claims that it is a fresh translation that did not defer to the wording from earlier translations.  This would be in contrast to the ESV, which is a revision of the RSV, which is a revision of the KJV, which in turn draws on the phraseology of Tyndale and Wycliffe.  That continuity is something I like about the ESV!  The church is a living, historical organism.  We aren’t starting over from scratch every few years.  There should be continuity in the language of Scripture.

To take an important example, modern translations, including both the CSB and the ESV, render monogenes in John 3:16 as “one and only” Son.  The King James translation has “only begotten” Son.  The “begotten” rendition ties the text to the Nicene Creed, in which we confess that the Son is “begotten, not made.”  That is a critical Christological point, and the Nicene Fathers (who spoke Greek and surely understood it better than modern scholars) used “monogenes” in John 3:16 to develop that point.  Yes, on the flattest level the term denoted an only child, but the language is much richer than that and is important for historic Christianity.

But these thoughts only arise from a very quick perusal of some of the text.  I’m sure it has some good readings that I didn’t come upon yet.

Sample it yourself and share your thoughts.

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