Whenever a new translation of the Word of God is published, it’s either met with praise (by those more open to new translations that bring out the richness of the text) or skepticism (usually from the King-James-Only crowd who believes new versions further dilute the Word of God and should therefore be completely dismissed as serious Bible translations).
As the first-ever revision of the original Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), the Christian Standard Bible (CSB)’s Disciple’s Study Bible, released Nov. 15, has been no exception, having already been met with both praise and skepticism.
Published by B&H Publishing/Lifeway and Holman Bible Publishers, the CSB Disciple’s Study Bible’s many prominent features – which are commonly found in other study Bibles – are its introductions to each book of the Bible, complete with subheadings, timelines, outlines and cross references in the margins. It also includes Harmony of the Gospels, a concordance, full-color maps, the Ten Commandments (with related Old and New Testament passages, as well as Jesus’ teaching on them from the Gospels) and doctrinal overviews in the back.
In addition, the 2,173-page CSB Disciple’s Study Bible features the Foundations 260 Reading Plan, which provides 260 short daily readings and commentaries by Pastor Robby Gallaty and his wife, Kandi.
Moreover, the CSB features the H.E.A.R. (Highlight, Explain, Apply and Respond) journaling method for personal study and reflection. The CSB also includes discipleship articles called C.L.O.S.E.R. (Communicate, Learn, Obey, Store, Evangelism and Renew), as well as a tool for discipling church staff members called MARCS (Missional, Accountability, Reproductive, Communal and Scriptural).
What’s more, the CSB includes a discipleship group guide (D-Group), which outlines the process for starting, developing, guiding and maintaining church discipleship groups.
While many regard the original HCSB unparalleled in style and text, this newer version may surprise readers for two reasons: It not only contains impressive study notes, outlines, footnotes, journaling pages and commentary, on the one hand. On the other hand, however, it takes a somewhat overly-modernized, liberal approach to the Scriptures, compared to more widely-accepted translations (i.e., the King James Version (KJV), the Revised Standard Version (RSV), the New American Standard Version (NASB) and the New King James Version (NKJV).
(However, the New International Version (NIV) and the increasingly-popular English Standard Version (ESV) could also be considered overly-modernized, liberal translations.)
Moreover, like the KJV, RSV, NIV and the ESV, the personal pronouns of God in the CSB aren’t capitalized. While the CSB is beautifully presented, its revision of some of the personal pronouns of people is a different matter, taking on a more politically-correct overtone. The most pronounced is the gender revision of pronouns previously referencing people as “man” (which actually refers to “mankind”) and “brothers” or “brethren” (which means all fellow Christians).
For example, in the NKJV, Hebrews 3: 12 reads: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.” Whereas, in the CSB, Hebrews 3:12 is rendered: “Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” The gender revision is not explained in the footnotes (pg. 1920).
Another example is Psalm 1:1. In the NKJV, the verse reads: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” But in the CSB, the verse is rendered: “How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers!” The gender revision is also not explained in the footnotes (pg. 787).
Yet, another example is Proverbs 23: 7. In the KJV, the verse reads: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.” But in the CSB, the verse is rendered: “…for it’s like someone calculating inwardly. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.” The phrase, “like someone calculating inwardly,” changes the meaning to a “gender-neutral,” politically-correct approach rather than a “mankind” rendering. The gender revision is also not explained in the footnotes (pg. 935).
Still, another notable change is in the individual verse renderings themselves, either by omission of the literal text of – or in addition to – a certain verse.
For example, in John 1:18 in the NKJV, the verse reads: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” However, in the CSB, John 1: 18 is rendered: “No one has ever seen God. The one and only Son, who is himself God and is at the Father’s side – he has revealed him.” The words, “only begotten Son” have been changed to “one and only Son,” and “in the bosom of the Father” have been changed to “is at the Father’s side.” But the revisions, “one and only Son” and “and is at the Father’s side,” aren’t explained in the footnotes (pg. 1585).
Still, another example is 2 Peter 3:10. In the NKJV, the verse reads: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”
However, in the CSB, the verse is rendered: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed.” The words, “…in the night” have been removed and “…burned up” has been changed to “disclosed.” While “the day of the Lord” is explained in the footnotes (pg. 1971), it doesn’t explain why “…in the night” was omitted.
Among other notable changes, like other newer translations, the words of Jesus in the CSB aren’t in red; the dictionary that’s in the HCSB has now been incorporated into the concordance; and “Yahweh” in the HCSB has been changed to “LORD.”
Another notable change in the CSB is in the use of contractions. In the NKJV, Psalm 14:1 reads: “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.” But in the CSB, the verse is rendered: “The fool says in his heart, “There’s no God.” They are corrupt; they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good.” The use of the contraction “There’s” isn’t explained in the footnotes (pg. 797).
Because the CSB’s Disciple’s Study Bible reads more like a paraphrase and might be considered too modernized and liberal in its translation of the text, I would recommend using it to parallel either the KJV, NKJV or NASB.
Overall, this is an excellent study Bible well worth investing both the time and money in it.
Full disclosure: In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, I received this book free through B&H Publishing. My opinions are my own and I wasn’t required to write a positive review.