ESV and HCSB

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Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
My question relates ONLY to the ESV and HCSB.

The ESV is very popular in Reformed Circles because of some apparent real strengths. What are peoples thoughts about using the ESV as the main translation and the HCSB as an alternative for something a little more dynamic? I mention the HCSB as a dynamic 'compliment' to the ESV as it appears to be more accurate than the NIV.

Again PLEASE keep comments limited to the above translations.
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
Are we talking about preaching or personal study?

It was a deliberately broad question. I am making the assumption that many Reformed churches would have ministers preach from the ESV. For personal study believers may use the ESV and perhaps the HCSB more devotionally. However I am open here.
 
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iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
HCSB is Baptist. So I'd answer 'no'. :D

Although the HCSB is published by a Baptist publisher, a number of the translators (including myself) were Presbyterians. I am on the oversight committee for the HCSB, and I regularly extend an invitation to anyone on this blog to PM suggested "problematic verses" or needed improvements to me (especially in the OT). I'm collecting these for a revision in a few years time.

I think both the ESV and HCSB are excellent translations; both are similar in translational philosophy, slightly more word for word than the old NIV, while still easily accessible English. Both require a slightly higher grade reading level than the NIV, with the ESV slightly more demanding than the HCSB. Compare paragraph lengths and you will see what I mean.

In class I use the HCSB, which I find slightly better overall as a translation. I prefer its more natural language to the ESV's love of archaisms like "Behold" and "maiden". I don't generally say to my wife, "Behold, I was at the store today and the maiden at the deli had just prepared some fresh coleslaw." But the poetic ear of the ESV is often better in the psalms. I also preach from the ESV, because far more people in Reformed circles own one and there are many more Reformed resources keyed to it. From a Reformed perspective, the ESV Study Bible is much better than the HCSV Study Bible.

Hopefully that information helps!
 

reaganmarsh

Puritan Board Senior
I enjoy the HCSB, though I preach from (and prefer) the ESV. I regularly consult both the HCSB and ESV Study Bibles. We have different people in our congregation using both translations -- that is to say, some use ESV while others prefer HCSB -- and I do not attempt to sway them from one to the other. Each translation has its own particular strengths. If I think one translation brings out the idea more accurately, I freely reference it in preaching.
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
Although the HCSB is published by a Baptist publisher, a number of the translators (including myself) were Presbyterians. I am on the oversight committee for the HCSB, and I regularly extend an invitation to anyone on this blog to PM suggested "problematic verses" or needed improvements to me (especially in the OT). I'm collecting these for a revision in a few years time.

Thanks Iain this is helpful.

One thing that really surprises me is that the HCSB is not as popular as one thinks it should be. The ESV has really taken off while the HCSB tends to lag.

I prefer its more natural language to the ESV's love of archaisms like "Behold" and "maiden".

I agree with this.

Some areas I think need improving with the HCSB:
1. The ESV's translation of 'Hesed' [Steadfast love] is an excellent translation
2. The ESV translates 2 Tim 3:16 "All Scripture is breathed out by God" which is much preferred to the HCSB's dated 'inspired'
3. I find the changes in Psalm 23 in the HCSB very radical! The ESV is more traditional :)

On the whole I find both translations a personal blessing
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
I love them both and consider both of them very accurate and readable (each in its own way).

The Crossway people are masters of marketing and have never stumbled or missed a trick. Watching the Crossway juggernaut reminds me of the great line in the old movie classic "Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid" where Butch comments on the skill of the trackers following them: "I couldn't do that. Could you do that? Why can they do it? Who are those guys?"

The HCSB team reminds me of the line attributed to Abba Eban in 1973 about the Palestinians: ". . . [they] never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." The scholars behind the translation (Dr. Duguid a case in point) are superior, the readings are mellifluous, and the result is VERY good (accurate and good English). So, how come the marketing is not as good as the actual translation???

Based on dollar sales, the September 2013 CBA numbers are as follows:
1 New International Version
2 King James Version
3 New King James Version
4 English Standard Version
5 New Living Translation
6 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Based on unit sales, the ESV number is even more impressive:
1 New International Version
2 King James Version
3 English Standard Version
4 New King James Version
5 New Living Translation
6 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Considering the continuing strength of the KJV and the perplexing popularity of the NIV, you get the impression that if the Crossway people were handling Obamacare, the whole country would be signed up by now. The "natural market" for the ESV is pretty small (compared to the KJV or NIV), but it has done amazingly well under the circumstances.

I wish the HCSB received a better reception. But, I'm too old to kick against the goads and have just defaulted to the ESV as the defacto "winner" in the conservative "substantially literal" race among those using the Critical Text.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
"They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity" could apply to the marketing department at the Lockman Foundation regarding the NASB, also.
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
There was a time when I readily lauded the ESV and I still greatly appreciate its syntax; something I have found to be a commonly liked attribute of the translation. During that time, I often came across the HCSB and wondered why I should care about it. I didn't know a single person who used it and I still don't except for this board.

If I was on the marketing committee for the HCSB, I would drop the name Holman and stick with CSB or something else. As picky as this sounds, I imagine people not relating well with the name Holman. Who knows what a Holman is anyway? If little things like this didn't matter, people wouldn't put 99 cents at the end of their price tag.

When selling a book or a Bible, one good marketing strategy is to find a way to make the buyer care about your product. This is very important in book sales. Crossway has done this very well. Zondervan does it better. Holman just misses the mark. Like it or not, most people still judge books and Bibles by their covers.

About the Holman never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity, they surprised everyone at T4G 2012. The HCSB was given to everyone who attended the conference. I suspect it was already too late for the Holman to gain a stronghold in the market. There was not a single speaker at that conference who did not use the ESV and it seems most people have already chosen their favorite translation. When I saw all the HSCBs being given away, I felt sorry for the Holman Publishers. It was like watching a gasp of air come a dying... something. Even in their valiant effort to not miss the mark it seems as though they missed it anyway.

I occasionally reference the HCSB and find it useful for that purpose only.
 

ChariotsofFire

Puritan Board Sophomore
I received my copy of the HCSB at TG4. I've been thankful for it, and it seems more understandable for the kids. One interesting thing about it is that it uses the term Messiah rather than Christ

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
I like the rendering of John 3:16, which I think better renders the conjunction better to modern readers compared to the traditional rendering (which is often misunderstood).

Compared to the ESV in general... I am a bit leery of translations which add capitalization to pronouns. I also don't appreciate switching between "Messiah" and "Christ" in translation without regard to the original text. I also think it would have been great if they had stuck to the Majority text. ;)
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
"They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity" could apply to the marketing department at the Lockman Foundation regarding the NASB, also.

My pastor and I had a twenty minute conversation the other day on Lockman's follies ;)
 
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Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
The Crossway people are masters of marketing and have never stumbled or missed a trick

When the ESV first came out, it was not a big hit. Then Crossway realized that they needed to find a market for it, and so they asked themselves what group would be most likely to appreciate a literal but readable translation based on the CT. The answer, reformed Christians. Once they realized this, they simply crafted a marketing plan featuring several respected leaders in the reformed community, and the rest is history. The problem with the HCSB is that the market it was aimed for, Southern Baptists, have by and large rejected it, preferring the KJV, NKJV, and NIV, and non-Baptists tend to associate it with Baptists.
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
The Crossway people are masters of marketing and have never stumbled or missed a trick

When the ESV first came out, it was not a big hit. Then Crossway realized that they needed to find a market for it, and so they asked themselves what group would be most likely to appreciate a literal but readable translation based on the CT. The answer, reformed Christians. Once they realized this, they simply crafted a marketing plan featuring several respected leaders in the reformed community, and the rest is history. The problem with the HCSB is that the market it was aimed for, Southern Baptists, have by and large rejected it, preferring the KJV, NKJV, and NIV, and non-Baptists tend to associate it with Baptists.

Any speculations about why the Southern Baptists rejected the HCSB in favor of the other translations?
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The Crossway people are masters of marketing and have never stumbled or missed a trick

When the ESV first came out, it was not a big hit. Then Crossway realized that they needed to find a market for it, and so they asked themselves what group would be most likely to appreciate a literal but readable translation based on the CT. The answer, reformed Christians. Once they realized this, they simply crafted a marketing plan featuring several respected leaders in the reformed community, and the rest is history. The problem with the HCSB is that the market it was aimed for, Southern Baptists, have by and large rejected it, preferring the KJV, NKJV, and NIV, and non-Baptists tend to associate it with Baptists.

Any speculations about why the Southern Baptists rejected the HCSB in favor of the other translations?


The sheer momentum of NIV that carries a 20 year jump on HCS.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
The Crossway people are masters of marketing and have never stumbled or missed a trick

When the ESV first came out, it was not a big hit. Then Crossway realized that they needed to find a market for it, and so they asked themselves what group would be most likely to appreciate a literal but readable translation based on the CT. The answer, reformed Christians. Once they realized this, they simply crafted a marketing plan featuring several respected leaders in the reformed community, and the rest is history. The problem with the HCSB is that the market it was aimed for, Southern Baptists, have by and large rejected it, preferring the KJV, NKJV, and NIV, and non-Baptists tend to associate it with Baptists.

Any speculations about why the Southern Baptists rejected the HCSB in favor of the other translations?

With regard to "Southern Baptists rejecting the HCSB," of course it's not an official rejection. From what I can ascertain, all of the official SBC agencies use it in their publications, including B&H Academic books. A lot of people already used the KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV or whatever and saw no reason to change. The main impetus behind the Southern Baptists acquiring the rights to the HCSB project was that they had been using the NIV in their publications and didn't want to be forced into using a gender neutral translation. I'm not sure that they ever really thought the HCSB would (or could) be the new "standard" the way that Crossway explicitly has with the ESV from the beginning.

Timing is another issue. Since the HCSB was a new translation and not a revision, the full Bible wasn't issued until 2005, I think. By contrast the ESV hit the shelves in 2002, if not 2001. Remember that they bought the rights to the RSV. Thus, especially in the 2001 edition, it was a light revision of the RSV that didn't take nearly as long to develop as most translations would. Some who were looking for a critical text alternative to the NASB and NIV had already switched to the ESV by the time that the HCSB OT was released some 3-4 years after the ESV. There ARE people who read the HCSB as it is usually around #5 or #6 in the rankings now. (The NKJV seems to be slipping at this point. Some who weren't really interested in the Byzantine text had used it as an alternative to the NASB and NIV, preferring the NKJV's superior literary qualities.) But I think they underestimated the ESV. Crossway was not known as a major publisher at that time, really, and I'm sure some doubted that it would be very successful given that fact. The pamphlet on the ESV by the Trinitarian Bible Society says as much. Previously Crossway had published a lot of worldview stuff (most notably Schaeffer's "Complete Works"), some MacArthur books, etc. They had published a good many Calvinistic works but they were not the juggernaut that they are today.

The ESV found its early base among Calvinistic people. Calvinistic people like Packer, Piper, Grudem and others were involved in it from the beginning and promoted it. So that was the initial base, and it coincided with the rise of the "New Calvinism." I first learned of both translations being in development by reading a footnote about them in Grudem and Poythress' "Gender Neutral Bible Controversy." But the ESV audience has expanded beyond that now. Even though we buy a lot of books and Bibles, there aren't enough of us to push it that high. A good many churches and preachers seem to have switched to either the ESV or HCSB after the 1984 NIV went out of print. I know of non-Calvinist Southern Baptist churches that use it, some charismatics use it, etc. Many no doubt like it because it just "sounds like the Bible" but it is also readable, more or less.

Crossway also made very effective use of the internet from the beginning, making the ESV text freely available for a number of software programs (including things like e-Sword) whereas most other modern translations were not freely available. This continues with software like Olive Tree, where the ESV reference edition is free whereas only the HCSB text edition (I think) is available. The numerous textual notes in the HCSB are one reason for using it for reference purposes if nothing else. That being said, the HCSB Study Bible website is outstanding. From what I can tell, the whole Study Bible is available for free along with a good many other resources. You've got to pay to get access to the ESV Study Bible online and then it doesn't have as many other free resources as the HCSB site. But I'm guessing that a lot of people aren't even aware of that HCSB site.

With regard to the name, I remember reading somewhere that they had initially wanted to just call it the Christian Standard Bible but out of deference to a publisher named Christan Standard or something similar they called it the HCSB instead. Supposedly they were going to start emphasizing CSB but I haven't seen that to this point.
 
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GloriousBoaz

Puritan Board Freshman
I would drop the name Holman and stick with CSB or something else. As picky as this sounds, I imagine people not relating well with the name Holman. Who knows what a Holman is anyway?
I thought it was like a Jehovah's Witness bible or something for a long time because of the "Holman" I figured that was the founder of a cult lol.

I started to trust the HCSB once I read this review by someone I trust Grace in the Triad: The Importance of Using Multiple, Sound, Committee-Produced Modern Translations He talks about the ESV and the HCSB in here.

So i've been reading the NT over the last 4 months in a fashion that John MacArthur suggested of reading the same 8 chapters for a month then moving on and you complete the NT in 3 years. In my doing this I switch translations every 3 days. I have been reading the ESV and the HCSB all the way through Luke and half way through Romans. I have to agree with whoever above said they each have their strengths and weaknesses for instance the HCSB translates "doulos" as slave instead of bondservant, as it should but in Luke 22:38 as "Enough of that!" which no other translation does this except the NIV and NLT which puts that decision on really shakey grounds, all of the credible translations always say "It is enough" so I have no idea what they were thinking there, but with that said overall I trust the HCSB in conjunction with the 1995 NASB and others like the ESV, NET, and the KJV. I consult Young's usually too and Mounce's etc. (Oh and in this process i'm reading "The Message" and critiquing it, man that thing is a train wreck to put it mildly, I wish they wouldn't market it as a Bible, its just not, its a poor commentary at best.)

That's the best info I have for you, I wish I would have known you'd ask this question I could have wrote down some more translation choice examples contrasting the two, because at times they really do both make some good choices and at other times inferior, but rarely (as far as I have noticed so far) outright wrong tranlations.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
I've come to like the ESV very much. I still use the AV a lot and the NKJV in church, but I find myself reading the ESV more and more. I have a wide margin NASB and make notes, underlines in it. I don't like to mark up Bibles so that practice is limited to that specific copy. I was somewhat prejudiced against the ESV because it was a revision of the RSV, which had problems for Evangelicals that I'm sure you're all aware of. The ESV finally won me over because it corrected the majority of those faux pas and for the beauty of the translation.

I checked out the HCSB on Bible Gateway. Comparing favorite verses with the ESV and I do not care for the 'everyday language.' Not referring to the choices the translators made in terms of accuracy, but rather the literary quality, or the lack thereof, at least to my taste. For instance ; Ephesians 2:1-2

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient

As opposed to the ESV ;

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—

I note that 'prince of the power of the air' is the same as the AV and perhaps that is part of why I prefer it. At 65 years old we become so familiar with verses that the further away from what we know, the more difficult to adapt to it.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I think it's interesting that, despite its relentless marketing by Crossway, the ESV has never risen higher than 5th place, as far as I'm aware, on the monthly Bible-selling lists maintained by the Christian Publishers Association (or whatever they're called).

I think the ESV is a good translation. Besides, at almost 61, I have no plans to change translations yet again at this point in my life.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
I think it's interesting that, despite its relentless marketing by Crossway, the ESV has never risen higher than 5th place, as far as I'm aware, on the monthly Bible-selling lists maintained by the Christian Publishers Association (or whatever they're called).

I think the ESV is a good translation. Besides, at almost 61, I have no plans to change translations yet again at this point in my life.

Actually the ESV has moved up quite a bit on that list lately, as high as third place some months. A lot of this has to do with all the hoopla over the NIV 2011. Some people have decided to abandon the NIV and it looks like a good number of them are choosing the ESV.
 

reaganmarsh

Puritan Board Senior
I praise the Lord that they are moving to a formal equivalence translation. May our God guide them into his truth through his Word.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Here are the latest figures from the CBA:

October Sales Figures - CBA.
Bible Translations by Dollar Sales

1. New International Version – various publishers
2. King James Version - various publishers
3. English Standard Version - Crossway
4. New King James Version - various publishers
5. New Living Translation - Tyndale
6. Holman Christian Standard Bible - B&H Publishing Group
7. Common English Bible - Common English Bible
8. New International Readers Version - Zondervan
9. Reina Valera 1960 - American Bible Society and licensees
10. New American Standard - various publishers

Bible Translations by Unit Sales

1. New International Version - various publishers
2. King James Version - various publishers
3. English Standard Version - Crossway
4. New Living Translation - Tyndale
5. New King James Version - various publishers
6. Holman Christian Standard Bible - B&H Publishing
7. Common English Bible - Common English Bible
8. New International Readers Version - Zondervan
9. New American Standard - various publishers
10. Reina Valera 1960 - American Bible Society and licensees
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
Its interesting that although the ESV has moved to no 3 place, it has not caused the NIV to move down the rankings.

I am also surprised the HCSB has not moved upwards - as an alternative to the NIV.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
Its interesting that although the ESV has moved to no 3 place, it has not caused the NIV to move down the rankings.

I am also surprised the HCSB has not moved upwards - as an alternative to the NIV.
The NIV has been around a long time. I think that the early acceptance of that translation, it is/was ubiquitous for many churches I've been to, gives it a leg up. The HCSB is fairly recent in the scheme of things and hasn't had the PR campaign Crossway launched along with the ESV.

Add to that, In my humble opinion, if I were to mention James Arminius to two thirds of folks in the Baptist churches I used to attend, or in the OPC I belong to now, I think the response would be, "You mean the guy who played Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke?" In other words,, while those who participate in this board are more aware of various translations, and of basic, if not advanced, theology. I'm not sure the average person in the pews is so inclined. I could be way off base on that though.

THough I didn't like it upon my early readings of it I have come to like the ESV very much. The fact that it was a revision of the RSV, rather than a new translation put me off it at first.
 

Bad Organist

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi,

According to the Nov./13 Bible sales figures from CBA have the ESV in 5th spot behind the NIV, KJV, NLT and NKJV.

I don't know exactly how these numbers are computed, but if a translation is promoted with 99-cent New Testament, and that shows up as an increase in sales, then that translationmay move up in the rankings.

It sounds so much like products competing in the marketplace, when I see these lists.

Arie V
FC of Scotland
Toronto, Canada
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Question: What are peoples thoughts about using the ESV as the main translation and the HCSB as an alternative for something a little more dynamic?

Answer: I wouldn't use either because they are both based upon Egyptian texts where there were many heretics and not on the ecclesiastical/majority texts.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
I have to say that I'd never heard of the HCSB before this thread. Perhaps because it's not available in any of the online or free software Bibles I use?
 

Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
I wouldn't use either because they are both based upon Egyptian texts where there were many heretics and not on the ecclesiastical/majority texts.

Pastor Barnes, do I recall correctly that I heard you preach from the NASB (a CT/AT accommodating translation)? Maybe I'm mistaken.
 
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