I had been using the NIV Study Bible for nearly forty years, and I was ready for a change. I wanted Scripture to feel fresh and alive as I read it.
I’d be the last person to call myself a Bible scholar, but I love digging deeper when something sparks my interest. I also write for publication on Christian topics, and it is important to be accurate.
Some translations go back to the original language to begin, while others start with an English translation. My thought was the closer to the source, the fewer man-made errors. I also hoped that as time passed, study of Biblical languages was advancing and allowing for a more accurate translation. The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) started from scratch with the original language, published in 2004. Since then the translators have updated the text with corrections, better word choices, and revisions. The result is the Christian Standard Bible (CSB).
A few translations attempt to match the original language word-for-word, resulting in an often awkward English phrasing or sentence structure. On the other end of the spectrum from word-for-word translation is thought-for-thought. This more closely captures the meaning of what is said, and results in a more reader-friendly text. One of the best examples of this type of translation is The Message, by Eugene Peterson. The CSB falls right in the middle.
It is important to me that the translation be accurate and faithful to the original language. I didn’t want a new Bible that was going to suddenly challenge traditional Christian doctrine!
Although I wanted a translation that was different from my familiar NIV, I didn’t want one so vastly different it sounded foreign to me.
The presenter at a women’s conference I attended a couple months ago was using the CSB. When she read a passage from the Psalms that I was familiar with from the NIV, whole phrases matched what I had committed to memory. Yet, there was a difference too. As the conference progressed I could see that these differences might just be the fresh and alive elements I was looking for in a new translation!
This study Bible contains not just the Scripture, but word studies, photographs, paintings, timelines, maps, charts, an introduction to each book, outlines, theological themes and insights, and notes. In this study Bible, it is all right there on the page of the verse it relates to, which is a huge improvement over the e-Bible I was using! Sometimes the size of the type is made small to cram all that information. I ordered a large print edition, and the 10 pt font makes it easier on my aging eyes. This significantly increases the size of the Bible; it is big enough, as we used to say, to choke a mule.
I reasoned that I wouldn’t be carrying this heavy book back and forth to church. I have long since switched to my tablet or phone for following the pastor as he reads Scripture. The CSB would remain on my desk as a study tool.
Old habits die hard. The first time after my CSB arrived that I needed to look up a passage in a study Bible, I reached for my phone. Then I caught myself and thumbed through the CSB. I read the passage, a related note, and then skipped back to the introduction of that book. I kept going deeper and getting a more complete picture of my subject.
The CSB Study Bible offers a lot of information, and would be up to the task for a minister who does in-depth study for sermon or Bible study preparation. A Bible scholar, writer like me, researcher, or the serious layman could all benefit from the CSB Study Bible.
Aesthetically, it’s a beautiful book. The leather-like cover is soft and appears durable. The page edges are golden and uniformly coated, and I was pleased to note the gold did not come off on my fingers. The two place-finder ribbons can be positioned in the Old or New Testaments. I got the indexed version, but I’m not sure that’s such an important feature for me. If I were to order again, I wouldn’t include it. But I don’t think I’ll need to order for another thirty years or so. This CSB should do fine.