Christian Standard Bible
HCSB Explains The Bible Translations
In Their Introduction
discussions of Bible translations speak of two opposite approaches: formal
equivalence and dynamic equivalence. Although this terminology is meaningful,
Bible translations cannot be neatly sorted into these two categories any more
than people can be neatly sorted into two categories according to height or
weight. Holman Bible Publishers is convinced there is room for another category
of translation philosophies that capitalizes on the strengths of the other two.
called "word-for-word" (or "literal") translation, the
principle of formal equivalence seeks as nearly as possible to preserve the
structure of the original language. It seeks to represent each word of the
translated text with an exact equivalent word in the translation so that the
reader can see word for word what the original human author wrote. The merits
of this approach include its consistency with the conviction that the Holy
Spirit did inspire the very words of Scripture in the original manuscripts. It
also provides the English Bible student some access to the structure of the
text in the original language. Formal equivalence can achieve accuracy to the
degree that English has an exact equivalent for each word and that the
grammatical patterns of the original language can be reproduced in
understandable English. However, it can sometimes result in awkward, if not
incomprehensible, English or in a misunderstanding of the author's intent. The
literal rendering of ancient idioms is especially difficult.
2. Dynamic or Functional
called "thought-for-thought" translation, the principle of dynamic
equivalence rejects as misguided the desire to preserve the structure of the
original language. It proceeds by distinguishing the meaning of a text from
its form and then translating the meaning so that it makes the same impact on
modern readers that the ancient text made on its original readers. Strengths of
this approach include a high degree of clarity and readability, especially in
places where the original is difficult to render word for word. It also acknowledges
that accurate and effective translation requires interpretation. However, the
meaning of a text cannot always be neatly separated from its form, nor can it
always be precisely determined. A biblical author may have intended multiple
meanings. In striving for readability, dynamic equivalence also sometimes
overlooks some of the less prominent elements of meaning. Furthermore, lack of
formal correspondence to the original makes it difficult to verify accuracy and
thus can affect the usefulness of the translation for in-depth Bible study.
translations are seldom if ever purely formal or dynamic but favor one theory
of Bible translation or the other to varying degrees. Optimal equivalence as a
translation philosophy recognizes that form cannot be neatly separated from
meaning and should not be changed (for example, nouns to verbs or third person
"they" to second person "you") unless comprehension demands
it. The primary goal of translation is to convey the sense of the original with
as much clarity as the original text and the translation language permit.
Optimal equivalence appreciates the goals of formal equivalence but also
recognizes its limitations.
equivalence starts with an exhaustive analysis of the text at every level
(word, phrase, clause, sentence, discourse) in the original language to
determine its original meaning and intention (or purpose). Then relying on the
latest and best language tools and experts, the nearest corresponding semantic
and linguistic equivalents are used to convey as much of the information and
intention of the original text with as much clarity and read- (ability as possible.)-.is on page xii
process assures the maximum transfer of both the words and thoughts contained
in the original. n
The HCSB uses optimal equivalence as its translation philosophy When a literal translation meets these criteria, it is used.
When clarity and readability demand an idiomatic translation, the reader can
still access the form of the original text by means of a footnote with the
language policy in Bible translation
today ignore the Bible's teachings on distinctive roles of men and women in
family and church and have an agenda to eliminate those distinctions in every
arena of life. These people have begun a program to engineer the removal of a
perceived male bias in the English language. The targets of this program have
been such traditional linguistic practices as the generic use of
"man" or "men," as wel'_ as
"he," "him," and "his."
A group of
Bible scholars, translators, and other evangelical leaders met in 1997 to
respond to this issue as it affects Bible translation. This group produced the
"Guidelines for Translation of Gender-Related Language in Scripture"
(adopted May 27, 1997 and revised Sept. 9, 1997). The HCSB was produced in
accordance with these guidelines.
The goal of
the HCSB translators has not been to promote a cultural ideology but to faithfully
translate the Bible. While the HCSB avoids using "man" or
"he" unnecessarily, the translation does not restructure sentences to
avoid them when they are in the text. For example, HCSB translators have not
changed "him" to "you" or to
"them," neither have they avoided other masculine words such as
"father" or "son" by translating them in generic terms such
as "parent" or "child."
the Holman Christian Standard Bible
several years of preliminary development, Holman Bible Publishers, the oldest
Bible publisher in America, assembled an international, interdenominational
team of 100 scholars, editors, stylists, and proofreaders, all of whom were
committed to biblical inerrancy. Outside consultants and reviewers contributed
valuable suggestions from their areas of expertise. An executive team then
edited, polished, and reviewed the final manuscripts.
features found in the HCSB
with a long line of Bible publications, the Holman Christian Standard Bible has
retained a number of features found in traditional Bibles:
Traditional theological vocabulary (such as justification, sanctification,
redemption, etc) has been retained in the HCSB, since such terms have no
translation equivalent that adequately communicates their exact meaning.
2. Traditional spellings of names and places
found in most Bibles have been used to make the HCSB compatible with most Bible
3. Some editions of the HCSB will print
the words of Christ in red letters to help readers easily locate the spoken
words of the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. Nouns and personal pronouns that
clearly refer to any person of the
Trinity are capitalized.
5. Descriptive headings, printed above
each section of Scripture, help readers quickly identify the contents of that
6. Small lower corner brackets: indicate words supplied for clarity by the
translators (but see below, under Substitution of words in sentences, for
supplied words that are not bracketed).
On page xii
common forms of punctuation are used in the HCSB to help with clarity and ease
of reading: em dashes (a long dash
) are used to indicate sudden breaks in thought or to help clarify long
or difficult sentences. Parentheses are used infrequently to indicate words
that are parenthetical in the original languages.