Christian Standard Bible: Good or Bad?

Discussion in 'Translations and Manuscripts' started by Reformed Covenanter, Apr 14, 2018.

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  1. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Usually, I do not say a lot about translations, as such conversations usually generate more heat than light. Besides, not being a linguist I do not wish to pontificate about matters that I know nothing about. On this occasion, however, I will make an exception.

    It is my practice to pray through the psalms in private worship. Over the last several months, I have used the Book of Common Prayer, the Geneva Bible, the NIV, and the RSV. I enjoyed using all of them (the NIV is a guilty pleasure of mine, but since David translated its psalms into Hebrew I think that I may be forgiven). I recently acquired an inexpensive, second-hand copy of the CSB and started using it once I had finished the psalms in the RSV. Thus far, I have to say that I have not been impressed. The use of the word "humans" instead of "men" makes me wonder if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was behind it?

    Still, I realise that Lane and others who know what they are talking about have spoken highly of the CSB. Do I just need to persevere and get used to it?
  2. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Daniel,
    As one of the original translators of the HCSB, and part of the revision committee of the CSB, I'll chime in. I'm surprised that "humans" is a problem for you if you like the NIV. Even the ESV uses gender neutral language from time to time. There are times when the translation "man" or "men" doesn't work very well, although we chose to retain it in key texts like Genesis 1:26. I can assure you that no one working on the project had a feminist agenda.

    Let me give you a couple of examples from the psalms that may help you understand our thinking. In Psalm 82:7, the KJV has "Ye shall die like men and fall like one of the princes". This could easily be misunderstood, since in English, to die like a man implies dying bravely and boldly, whereas what the Psalm has in mind is dying like a mortal (adam), not living forever like a divine being. In context, "you will die like humans" is much clearer. In Psalm 9 and 10, we have chosen to translate enosh as "mere humans" to bring out the aspect of human weakness that the word often contains. To translate it as "man" means that the distinct Hebrew vocabulary is flattened out a little, since that word normally indicates ish or adam.

    I hope that helps
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  3. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Thanks, Iain, that is useful; I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek with respect to the humans comment. I should say that I use a nice 1978 edition of the NIV, which people in church often mistake for an AV. (Okay, I mostly use either the NKJV or the ESV, but I carry an NIV to church.)
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  4. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    I recently had to use the CSB on a project where the author I was editing used it as his primary translation. I expected not to like it (don't we already have enough translations), but ended up pleasantly surprised. It reads smoothly and clearly, as if writing good English was a priority for the translation team. It's clearly less word-for-word than some translations, yet I didn't find it suggesting many meanings that vary from the clunkier ESV, which has been my preferred choice for several years now. And I trust it more than I trust the also readable 2011 NIV.
  5. beloved7

    beloved7 Puritan Board Freshman

    It seems okay, though with the ESV, I don't see the need for it.
  6. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    Prime Minister Trudeau replaced "humankind" with "peoplekind" so I think "humans" would still not be good enough for him. ;)

    I don't own the CSB, but I've used it from time-to-time. One of my elders is a big fan, and I was in a Bible study where he used it and often pointed out what he considered to be superior translations over the ESV, NASB, and KJV. I am a big fan of the CSB's renderings of John 3:16 for example
  7. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    Thank you for your input Dr. Duguid. I can see where you are coming from, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever met someone who was confused as to the meaning of “die like men” from Psalm 82. In my opinion, the effort to make the translation understandable to the densest among us has only resulted in awkward sounding English, and is frankly a fruitless effort. If you are too dense to understand the meaning of Psalm 82, then the Bible is destined to be a mystery to you.
  8. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritanboard Softy

    I think the CSB is a solid translation, in many ways preferable to the ESV. Unfortunately, for the present, it seems to remain (unofficially) a Southern Baptist version and it is almost impossible to find materials that use it outside of those produced by Lifeway. If the CSB finds traction and other curriculum makers provide options for incorporating it in their material, then maybe I'd switch. But for now, it is something I use in my devotions and nothing more.
  9. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I read through the NIV a few years ago. I never felt like I got less out of reading the Bible than I did on that occasion.
  10. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I am quite happy to enjoy my guilty pleasure alone. :cheers:
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  11. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Freshman

    I used the CSB as the base for my recent REC volume on Zephaniah, Haggai and Malachi, but your point is well-taken. Crossway has pretty much sewn up the market of secondary literature with the ESV (which I use in many of my books). The HCSB study bible (to which I contributed) isn't as useful to Reformed readers as the ESV Study Bible. I wish the CSB would be more widely used in Reformed circles because I think it has some unique qualities. But it's not surprising that Broadman and Holman would focus their attention on the (vast) Southern Baptist market because it is their home base.
  12. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritanboard Softy

    As you are a contributor to that work, I thank you for your labors. I think it would be helpful if you would enumerate those unique qualities possessed by the CSB that would be useful to those in Reformed circles.
  13. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    I understand that there's a CSB study Bible in which all the notes are by Spurgeon - culled from his sermons, no doubt.
  14. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Freshman

    In the spectrum of translations from formal equivalence to functional equivalence, it's at a similar spot to the ESV. The ESV, I think under Leland Ryken's influence, seems committed to "sound like the Bible", which perhaps makes it easier for those raised on the cadences of the KJV to switch. However, it results in more complex sentences and paragraphs, along with extensive use of anachronisms, such as "Behold" and "Maiden". I can't remember ever saying to my wife, "I was at the grocery store and behold, I ran into Fred" or announcing that this week the young men's Bible Study would be at our house and the maidens would be meeting at the Jones. This can lead to a perception that the Bible is "special" in its linguistic style, something which is unique to the English text and not a feature of the Greek or Hebrew. The CSB strives to render the ordinary everyday Greek and Hebrew more straightforwardly into ordinary everyday English.

    I don't want to be too critical of the ESV; it is an excellent translation in most ways, and there are times when its elevated style works really well. The task of translation is huge and enormously complex and everyone will think that translators captured some verses well and didn't do so well on others. Unlike in commentaries, you don't get five pages to explain why you chose your particular translation. We are enormously blessed in English to have a multiplicity of good translations to work with.

    Footnote: one of the revision team members, Andy Steinmann, is an avid birdwatcher. As a result, I think we probably have the best rendering of the birds of the Bible in any English translation. But we don't have any hedgehogs (ESV Isa 14:23; Zeph 2:14).
  15. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    I've been using the CSB in our family worship over the last 6 months or so. I have found it particularly helpful as we have worked through the minor prophets and it seems to make the meaning a good bit clearer than some other translations. I don't know if I'll run into some quibbles in other parts of the Old or New Testaments but so far I've found it refreshing and clear.
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  16. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    I bought a CSB Reader's Bible for my wife. The first one came in a bit damaged and they kindly replaced it. I ended up claiming the damaged one. I am truly surprised at how much of a pleasure it has been to read. I predominantly use the ESV, on top of of the KJV, JPS translation of the Tanakh, and interlinears. I find myself reading the CSB the most now. I am honestly considering using it for the books I am writing. It has been great for family devotions and worship.
  17. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I will try to read more of it before making a judgment on the translation as a whole, but I have to say that I really do not like its translation of the Psalms. The fact that I started using it after the RSV's translation of the Psalter, one of outstanding literary beauty, probably has not helped matters.
  18. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    I haven't made it that far yet. I will read through some of the Psalms this Evening.
  19. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Puritan Board Junior

    It is always helpful to use more than one translation and in many respects both the ESV and CSB go nicely together. I like reading the book of Proverbs in the CSB. Also think there is a lot to be said for an Optimum Equivalent translation.

    But there are a number of times where I prefer the ESV:
    • I prefer the ESV in the Psalms. Perhaps it is my KJV and NKJV background, but the ESV follows the Tyndale tradition in the way it translates the Psalms which I find helpful.
    • The ESV translates 2 Tim 3:16 "breathed out by God" which conveys the original very clearly. I find the CSV "inspired" to be a strange translation.
    • I find it unfortunate the translators of the CSV did not use "propitiation" (in Romans, Hebrews, and 1 John) as they did in the HCSB. The HCSB was committed to retaining important theological words and propitiation more than any other word conveys the wrath of God against sin and the need for true atonement. In a day and age where the idea of the wrath of God against sin is minimised, we need to retain this truth.
    • I find the translation of the OT word Hesed - translated as steadfast love in the ESV to be a very helpful translation. Admittedly I am not an OT scholar but when reading a number of OT expository dictionaries and OT theological works, the concepts of "love", "steadfastness", and "strength" were emphasised. In a day and age where love is trivialised, the idea that Biblical love is steadfast, In my humble opinion, is very important.
  20. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Freshman

    I'll address the two OT concerns at least.
    First, if you remember my post above, I noted the ESV's concern for literary excellence, a "Bible that sounds like the Bible". This is likely to be most positively felt in the poetic sections, especially the psalms, which I agree the ESV does well. But of course for every virtue there is always a cost. Clarity can potentially be obscured a bit. The ESV scores three grade levels harder than the CSB (10th vs 7th). That's not a problem for most PB readers, but it is a concern for some.

    Second, hesed is notoriously difficult to translate into English. The ESV predominantly translates it by "steadfast love", though about 25% of the time it translates it with something else, such as kindness. The CSB most often renders it with "faithful love", though it has alternate translations in about 33% of uses. So it's not a big difference. I prefer both to the NIV's tendency to flatten it into "love", for which other Hebrew words are often used.
  21. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Would you see the Csb s being in the same category as the Niv and the Esv then? I tend to see those 3 all very much alike, and would still see the more formal translations such as the NASB/NKJV as being more suited to those wanting more of a literalness in their versions.
  22. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Freshman

    The NIV is distinctly more in the direction of functional versus formal equivalence than the ESV and CSB, which are similar in that regard. The KJV would be more in the direction of formal equivalence and the NASB further still. The language of "literal" is imprecise and is best avoided.
  23. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    I realize it is not as popular as it once was, but an example of why I like the NIV and its functional equivalence is that it speaks the English I use. An example being ;
    Job 31:1
    NIV I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.
    ESV I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?
    CSB I have made a covenant with my eyes. How then could I look at a young woman?
    NASB I Have made a covenant with my eyes; How then could I gaze at a virgin?
    KJV I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?
    To me the NIV nails the thought behind the verse. Virgin, maid, or even 'look upon a young women', without the specific context might by some be considered self explanatory. I suppose it could be argued that 'How then could I look upon a young women' is context enough, but I prefer the NIV speaking in plain English.
  24. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    I disagree. The NIV completely removes the anguish he feels at even the thought of breaking his covenant and reduces it to a simple matter of fact statement. The fact that all that all the other versions translate it very similarly should be your clue that the Hebrew is closer to how they phrase it rather than how the NIV phrases it.
  25. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Puritan Board Junior

    Given the doctrinal importance of Hesed, and given modern society to trivalise love, it seems to me that 'steadfast love' [ESV], or indeed 'faithful love' [CSB] emphasise that Biblical love is solid, not something sentimental.

    As I said above, the ESV and the CSB both have unique strengths and we are blessed today with excellent translations of the Bible.
  26. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Agreed on the use of literal, should have stated more formal . So you would see the Niv as being more in line of Dynamic Equivalence than either Esv/CSB, and the nas as the most formal version available?
    How do you view the issues regarding how to translate gender issues, as in when to translate as men/man, or as others?
  27. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    I would much rather use either the esv/Csb then the Niv, as think the Niv went far too much into gender rendering issues, and is somewhat more dynamic a translation for my tastes.
  28. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    Since the start of this tread, I downloaded an electronic copy of this translation and have been impressed (not claiming any cash value to that).

    HT to Prof. Duguid for his labors and comments on this thread.
  29. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I have decided to give up on its psalms; I got to Psalm 68 and cannot take anymore of them. I usually pray 3-5 a day, but the CSB has made it a real chore to pray even one psalm a day. Maybe I just need to get used to the translation as a whole, but I really do not like the CSB's Psalter. I think I am going to use the ASV as the next translation for my prayers instead. Still, it is not right to judge a translation on account of one book. And it is only my subjective opinion.
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