On the arrival of the CSB Translation, we take a look at what makes this new Bible different from the rest...
Every Bible translation has an aim.
The KJV wanted to be the very first Bible, bringing God’s word into a new language with a poetic ear that pleased the readers at the time; the NIV wanted to bring translations of the Greek and Hebrew to the whole of the world; The Message translation further brought the text into the 21st Century, using modern turns-of-phrase.
So whenever a new translation of the Bible, the question that must first be asked is ‘Why?’
This year sees the CSB Bible released in the UK. An update of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, the Christian Standard Bible holds to its heart two attributes:
The CSB Bible prides itself on accuracy, but sees that in order to get more people reading the Bible, a certain accessibility of language is needed. It has to be both unwaveringly literal and easily readable. Most bibles chose merely to focus on one, as many feel that the two are generally incompatible in their purest forms.
Chose readability and any fidelity or integrity is lost: choose accuracy and you risk alienating whole generations of reads who are not used to archaic language and complex composition.
But the thought going into the CSB was ‘what if we could have both?’.
The goal is to find the optimal line between comprehension and authenticity, and rise as high as possible along said line.
Charting several Bibles this way give a clear impression of where most Bibles sit on this scale.
It’s worth mentioning at this point the two main ways of translating the Bible that the majority of Bibles fit into: It comes down to a choice between Formal translation and Dynamic translation.
The meaning or the leaning?
Formal favours the literal. If there is a direct way to represent the Greek in the English language, that is what will be favoured. No matter if it seems impenetrable, or about which modern readers will not fully understand, the words must each individually match. Now of course there are problems with this. No two languages can ever truly be Formally translated. Just look at the sheer numbers of non-English language words used today. Schadenfreude (German); Wabi-Sabi (Japanese); Faux Pas (French); ad nauseam (Latin). Each of them carry more than their direct translations, which is why they are still uttered and untranslated to this day. This leaves Formal translations as being very much the de facto Bible interpretations for many, accurate and robust, but for others it can also feel distant as the thoughts and meanings of the text are sacrificed for fidelity.
This leads to the Dynamic translations, which keep their eye on the thoughts and meanings of the text, rather than the literal words used.
Dynamic translation has been vital in many people’s first steps into faith; the creation of a Bible in the words of people today. There is also a difficulty with Dynamic as it requires a certain degree of interpretation on the behalf of the translators. It can often take a lifetime of scholarship to fully convey the connotations of the Biblical text, as well as a keen eye for the written word as to wrangle it into relatable words. This necessary wiggle-room has led to many being suspicious of the theological, political, social, or philosophical intent of the interpreters - after all, bias often lurks in the hidden corners we may not recognize. Feeling that Dynamic translation muddies the waters of the text has created not a few heated debates and discussions of the text, but is wrong to want to Bible to be read today?
No. The Bible is for people. It’s God’s word given to humanity. But, then, how does the CSB solve this tension?
Put simply, but by setting its sights on the centre point between the two, and then choosing to follow that path for as far as possible before one side interrupts with the other.
Over this series of posts, we’ll explore at what makes the CSB different from other translations, and compare verses from several different Bible versions to discover what it is like, and see which Bible version best fits you.
April 3rd, 2017 - Posted & Written by Aaron Lewendon