Update on the CSB – I Am All In!

csb

Five months ago today I wrote a blog post on my initial thoughts on the CSB.  As of today, that post has nearly reached 1,000 views!  I thought it was time to write an update to my original post to let people know where I have landed.

I have had a lot of time to read through most of the CSB.  I have compared it to multiple versions, commentaries, and the original languages as my limited understanding allows.  The more I read it, meditate on it, and memorize it, the more I love it!  As a result, it has become my primary Bible translation for everything; though, of course, I will always reference other versions when studying.

What led me to make it my main version?

First, I truly believe they have struck a great balance between readability and accuracy to the original languages.  I know, all versions basically claim the same thing.  Still, there is a spectrum between extremely formal (interlinear) and extremely free or dynamic (paraphrases), and I truly believe the CSB falls toward the center of that spectrum.  It may even be a little more toward the formal side, which I appreciate.  As I have dug in, I have found many times where the CSB may veer from a traditional rendering, only to realize that it seems to be better capturing what the original intended, whether in wording, meaning, or even in conveying verb tense from the Greek to the English.  In many cases, I almost feel that the CSB is an easier-to-read NASB, as it often parallels it quite closely.  While I did feel, for a while, that a strictly formal translation was the best to use all the time, I have come to question that a little, as I have thought about how translation works between other modern languages.  I think I have come to a point where (at least for now) I feel that a middle-of-the-road approach may be ideal; that way, one can always move to a more formal version for deeper study and a more dynamic one for clarification/commentary and easier reading, if necessary.  The CSB really seems to hit that middle-of-the-road ideal.

Second, it has been remarkably easy to memorize.  While I had used the ESV for several years to memorize, I decided to consider the CSB.  At first, I was concerned that the CSB would be harder to memorize because it wasn’t as literary or elegant sounding.  In reality, the fact that the CSB often sounds like the way we would say something today has made it easier to memorize than the ESV to me.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do like the ESV.  But stepping back after a while of using the CSB, it almost seems like the ESV, in an attempt to retain some of the sound of the KJV, can occasionally create readings that sound odd to modern ears.  Some people may love that aspect of the ESV, and as an English teacher, I can respect the fact that it remains close to such a literary and historic translation in sound.  But for presenting dramatically, I believe the natural wording of the CSB will be a great asset.  So far, I have memorized Philippians and the first four chapters of Revelation in the CSB, and I am loving it!

Third, they have quite extensive translators’ footnotes throughout the translation.  These notes give alternate translations, more literal renderings, and manuscript variants.  I haven’t compared all of the various English versions, but it seems that the CSB’s notes may be some of the most in-depth.  That is something I appreciate as I am studying the word.

Fourth, without going into great detail, I have grown to know and experience the heart of the publisher.  Holman’s desire to get the word of God out in order to create disciples is very apparent.  That is something I truly appreciate about them.  Again, that is not to say no other version has this same goal; far from it.  I believe that all versions ultimately have the desire to see disciples made.  But there have been a few things about Holman that have simply won me over.

I do see the CSB growing in popularity.  A local friend that I introduced it to adopted it before I did, and she introduced it to another friend.  A poll in a Facebook page I am a part of showed that it is growing beyond merely being a Southern Baptist Bible (as it is often erroneously considered since the publisher is connected to the Southern Baptist Convention); people from a wide range of denominations have made the CSB their primary Bible.  I have also seen many posts of people switching to the CSB from other versions as their primary.  Many of the search terms on my blog also show that people are researching and digging into reviews that are comparing the CSB to other versions that have been firmly established for a while.  This is all very encouraging to me.

[While I am on this topic of whether the CSB has strong Baptist tendencies, I think one example may suffice to show that it strives to be a Bible anyone can use.  As Baptists believe that the proper mode of baptism is by immersion, it would have been very easy for the CSB translation team to have translated the Greek “baptizo” as “immerse” instead of transliterating it as “baptize.”  The fact that they left it transliterated seems, to me, to show that they were not trying to push a certain theological agenda.]

Yes, it is true that the CSB occasionally breaks with traditional renderings in verses.  But the more I study and read them, the more I have grown to appreciate what they have done.  Their choices often reflect what seems to be a more accurate rendering of the original languages.

For example, choosing “For God loved the world in this way” in John 3:16 instead of the traditional “For God so loved the world” seems to bring  out the original intent better.

In the Sermon on the Mount, “Hallowed be thy name” (or some variation thereof) becomes “your name be honored as holy” (6:9, CSB).  I think that the change brings out the meaning of “hallowed” very well and very clearly.

One last example is in Psalm 1:1.  Traditional renderings say “Blessed is the man.”  The CSB says “How happy is the one.”  I believe the gender change here is welcome, as the verse is clearly not limited to men.  But the biggest change is the word “blessed” to “how happy.”  I have seen a lot of people questioning that.  But from what I understand, there are two Hebrew words that are often both translated “blessed” in the Old Testament.  The issue is that one of the two words actually means “blessed,” while the other has a better meaning of “happy.”  The one that appears in this verse is the one that means “happy,” so the CSB, while breaking tradition, actually brings out the original more clearly.  (For more information on this, I highly recommend Randy Alcorn’s book Happiness.)

I want to put a few clarifications here.

First, the CSB, like all translations, is not perfect.  There are areas that can be improved, as is the case with any attempt at translating from one language to another.  Which leads me to my second clarification.

We are very blessed to have so many versions in the English language that we can cross reference and check against one another.  We should never forget the blessings we have, even as we may look for that one version that can become our primary translation for use. (And I do think we should look for that one version that is our go-to version.  It helps if we are very familiar with one version when we do have to check against others.  If we constantly jump from version to version, we fail to get the deep familiarity that I think is a benefit of sticking with one primary translation, especially as it relates to internalizing the word.)  While I think the CSB should be considered strongly as an ideal translation to use, that is not to say we should not use the other versions or that anything is wrong with them.  Far from it.  They all have their place.

I do not hesitate to recommend the CSB to you as an amazing candidate for your primary Bible translation.  I think it is a phenomenal work that will only get better over time.  I think it is an ideal version for everything: reading, studying, memorizing, teaching from, and preaching from.

If you haven’t checked it out, I encourage you to do so.  You can read it online free here, or on YouVersion’s Bible app or on Bible Gateway.  I think you will find it both refreshing and accurate.

No matter what version you choose, dig deep into the word.  Treasure it in your heart.  Dwell in it and let it dwell in you.

 

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Book Review – The Spurgeon Study Bible (CSB)

basic spurgeon image

Holman Bible Publishers has been coming out with some awesome Bibles containing their Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation.  One of the more unique ones has been The Spurgeon Study Bible.

Let me state up front that this is not a traditional study Bible.  You will not find notes related to culture, words studies, hermeneutics, or application as we would normally think of it.  The only part of this that matches normal study Bibles are the introductions to the books of the Bible.  (More on that later.)

This Bible is unique in that every study note is a quote from Spurgeon’s sermons that ties in to the text in question.  For Spurgeon lovers, this is an interesting way to combine Spurgeon’s thoughts with the biblical text.  Rather than having to comb through Spurgeon’s sermons to see where he refers to some Scripture verse, one can see them related here.  The notes are not exhaustive, I’m sure, and if you read through Spurgeon’s sermons, you may find multiple times he references verses, but this Bible gives you at least some quotes to connect to the Biblical text.

The edition I have is a cloth over board edition.  It comes with a partial paper slip cover that gives some information on the Bible on the back.  If you remove the cover, you will find a two-tone brown cloth over board cover with C. H. Spurgeon’s signature at the bottom right corner.  It comes with two ribbon bookmarks: one dark brown and one a lighter tan.

spurgeon front cover

Spurgeon back cover

spurgeon no slip cover

The Bible starts with a Table of Contents that lists the books of the Bible and the page references of additional material in this Bible: a Spurgeon biography by Alistair Begg, the lost sermons, Spurgeon quotes, Spurgeon illustrations, and intro to the CSB, abbreviations in the CSB, and the page where the concordance begins.

There is a four page (two columns each page) biography of Spurgeon by Alistair Begg to give people some background on Spurgeon as a person.

spurgeon bio

In addition, twenty of the lost sermons of Charles Spurgeon taken from The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon: His Earliest Outlines and Sermons Between 1851 and 1854, Volume 1 are interspersed throughout the Bible.  For each sermon, the handwritten sermon is included on one page and a typed-out version is on the next.  I have to admit, it is neat being able to see a sermon outline in Spurgeon’s own handwriting!

lost sermons list

lost sermon handwritten

lost sermon typed

Each book of the Bible has an introduction to it.  Most of the information in the introduction matches the introduction from the CSB Study Bible or The Disciple’s Study Bible.  The outlines that are generally included with the books of the Bible introductions is not present in this edition.  In its place is a section titled “Spurgeon on [the Bible book].”  From what I can tell, this section is taken from the notes that will come later in the book’s footnotes on the text, so it is sort of a brief summary of what is to come.

spurgeon book intro

Spurgeon Quotes are scattered throughout.  They are typed in a cursive font that seems like it was intended to resemble Spurgeon’s own handwriting.  These quotes are highlights from the notes at the bottom of the page, and the quote itself is in a green font at the bottom of the page so you can see where it was taken from.  (That may not show up with my camera very well.)

The CSB footnotes are included at the bottom of the page in a green box.  There are no cross references in this Bible, unlike most study Bibles.

spurgeon sample page 1.jpg

There are also illustrations throughout, which are not included in the notes at the bottom of the page, but are additional thoughts on the notes.

spurgeon sample page 2

If you are looking for a deep study Bible, this is not the one you are looking for.  I would recommend the CSB Study Bible in that case.

For someone who loves C. H. Spurgeon, however, this is a wonderful Bible.  It gives a way of combining some of Spurgeon’s thoughts with the biblical text, allowing you to see what Spurgeon might say as you are reading the word of God.

You can order the Bible directly from the publisher here, or from Amazon here.  It is available in the cloth over board edition, in Leather Touch, or in genuine leather.

*I received a complimentary copy of this Bible from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Bible Review – CSB Pastor’s Bible

I am continuing to dig into the CSB, to read it and compare it with other translations and what (very) little Greek knowledge I have gained.  I am still enjoying what I am reading and finding.

Holman Bible Publishers graciously agreed to send me a few different editions to look over and review, and I hope to get to all three soon.

Today, I am reviewing the CSB Pastor’s Bible.

As far as I know, for the time being, if you want a single-column Bible in the CSB, you only have two options: the CSB Reader’s Bible, which I already reviewed, and the CSB Pastor’s Bible.  I do believe they have another personal size single-column being released later in 2018, but I’m not sure when it will be available exactly.

Some of the basic information for this Bible, from the back of the box, are that it has a smyth-sewn binding, black-letter text throughout (no words of Christ in red), and 11-point type (the Large Print Ultrathin Reference Bible has 9.5-point type; a picture comparing the two is posted later).  Unlike the Large Print Ultrathin Reference Bible, there are no cross-references in the Pastor’s Bible. It comes with three ribbon markers (one black, one red, and one white).  The edition I received is a black LeatherTouch, and it has silver gilding on the edges.  It has all the CSB footnotes throughout, and the CSB topical subheadings are included.  As with most Bibles, it has a presentation page, a concordance in the back, and full-color maps.  The perimeter has stitching around it: black on the outside and red on the inside.  But the inside cover liner seems like it is glued on rather than sewn in.

In terms of size and weight, it is certainly not the smallest and lightest Bible you can purchase.  It is, however, still a good size for carrying to church, unlike some of the massive study Bibles out there.  Even if you don’t want to carry this one with you, it is good for keeping at home to read.

Pastor's box cover front

Pastor's box cover back

Pastor's bible cover and ribbons

Pastor's bible table of contents 1.jpg

Pastor's bible table of contents 2

Pastor's Bible inside

Pastor's bible-LPUT compare.jpg

As you can see in the above two pictures, there appears to be a decent amount of margin space in the Pastor’s Bible for those who like to make notes while they are reading.  No, it is not a wide-margin Bible, per se, but it has more space than some Bibles do in the margins.

The Pastor’s Bible is designed to be a CSB resources specifically for pastors.  After the book of Psalms, it includes a section for wedding ceremonies (classical and contemporary, pictured below), information on funeral preparation, and some funeral sermons.

Pastor's bible classical wedding

Pastor's bible contemporary wedding.jpg

The funeral preparation is broken down into a few tips with detailed information under each one: what to do on receiving notification of death, what to do when visiting in the home, what to do when scheduling the service, what to do during the funeral home visit, what to do during the service, what to do when concluding the service, and what to do at the graveside.

The funeral sermons include a basic funeral sermon, one for a funeral for a child, one for a funeral for a student, and one for a funeral for a suicide victim.

At the end of the Bible, there are various pastoral helps.  These include a “where to turn” section with Scripture references to help (pictured below), “A Brief Biblical Theology of Leadership,” “Eight Traits of Effective Church Leaders,” “Pastor, Find Your Identity in Christ,” “Glorifying God in Your Ministry,” “What is Biblical Preaching?,” “Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures,” “What is Doctrinal Preaching?,” “Four Keys for Giving an Effective Invitation,” “Five Ways to Improve Congregational Singing,” “Soul Care: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love,” “Letter to the Church,” “Five Steps to Start and Keep an Evangelistic Culture,” “How Do You Disciple Others?,” “The One Thing You Must Do as a Student Pastor,” and “Sharing the Gospel with Children.”  The last two articles demonstrate that this Bible is equally valuable for youth and children pastors, as well as senior pastors.

Pastor's Bible pastoral care

While it is geared toward pastors, I have seen many discuss their love for this Bible merely because of the large print and single-column format, so if you are not a pastor, don’t rule out this Bible, thinking it is irrelevant to you.  The layout itself is beautiful and easy on the eyes.

If you are a pastor and are looking for a Bible with many helps and articles of encouragement and advice, this is a wonderful Bible to add to your library.

*Note: I received a complimentary copy of this Bible from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.