How is the CSB different?

Posted by Aaron Lewendon  ·  Be the first to comment

The second part of our look at the new CSB Translation explores what makes it different to other Bibles.

The CSB Bible

The CSB is different to most other Bibles. Through mixing literal and dynamic translations there were human decisions which were made in the translation process: points in the text where scholars, teachers, and those in-the-know grouped together to decide on the best way to phrase the CSB

And, more than just telling you how the Bible was translated, it's best to take a look at some of these key decisions and changes made.

Which Name above Names?

As an update to the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), there will be notable alteration made to the existing text to aid readers, and bridge the 2,000 years-worth of meaning that will have not carried through in common consciousness.

A big change made is the name to which the Lord is referred; namely that ‘The Lord’ is used instead of the Hebrew Yahweh. Occurring near-7,000 times in the Bible, Yahweh is a word that carries fewer meanings and connotations to modern, western readers than ‘The Lord’ does. We know what Lordship means, and the connections with royalty, jurisdiction, and power are readily available. But a Jewish name will stump more readers than enlighten, and so the decision was made to use 'The Lord'.

But the choice of ‘The Lord’ was not a random name pulled out of the bag either. It comes from the New Testament’s Greek use of kurios in place of Yahweh, which translates with ‘Lord’ and creates a greater unity between the two testaments of the Bible.   

From Slave to Servant

The team tasked with the translation made the decision to look at, and change, a number of uses of the word ‘slave’. This isn’t due to any unease with the word, or idea of, slavery, but rather for reasons of accuracy. Whenever ‘Slave of Christ’ was used in the HCSB the translators looked at the root use of ‘slave’ and discerned that there were actually differences between when eved and doulos was used.

This means that whenever ‘slave’ was used from the word eved, it was replaced with ‘servant’ which is seen to be more precise, reflecting the Old Testament usage a little better, and bringing a whole new set of connotations with it.

(M)other tongues

Another change is the choice to use ‘tongues’ instead of ‘languages’. As well as being more in-line with interpretations of the Greek text, the use of ‘tongues’ implies a meaningful relationship between self and the words spoken - after all, any language can be learned, but a ‘tongue’ is something passed down; a heritage and part of one’s identity - and rules out any notion of ‘over-translating’ the Greek. 

A Capital Idea

This one is a significant departure from many other Bible translations. Many divine pronouns (uses of words such as ‘He’ and ‘You’ to refer to God) have had their capitalisation in the text of the CSB. This isn’t mark of disrespect, but rather a move towards greater accuracy. Capitalising pronouns would not have occurred in the original languages of the Bible era, and it was felt by the CSB translators that adding them was a move of interpretations, rather than translation. Modern language, too, doesn’t hold to capitalising pronouns, and so it came as mutually beneficial to both fidelity and readability that divine pronouns lose their capitalisation.

Also, in certain circumstances, is was found that adding capitals was found to even change the meaning of the texts in a subtle way.

But not all capitals were removed. Only ones where it was found to be an interpretive act, rather than a literal one.

He said/She said

Gender usage in the Bible is a consistently heated topic. One camp argues that gendered language is exclusionary in a way that was never intended, whilst the other states that to de-gender (or de-specify) the text waters-down, or alters, the meaning of the Bible merely to appease current social changes.

But in the translation of the CSB several occurrences of gendered language was found to be more accurate by being, ironically, less specific in places where the original text does not infer the exclusion of female subjects.

‘Brothers’, for example, is commonly used in translations of the New Testament, but in actuality the Greek word used is adelphoi. This refers to both men and women, and so has be changed to ‘brothers and sisters’ in the CSB text.

Not all of the gendered words have changed though, as it would serve as an interpretive move to swap every third-person ‘he’ to ‘they’, and not a literal one.

Every gendered word use is looked at, and changes have been made not in service to political leanings, nor societal shifts, but to fidelity towards the text and a removal of needlessly exclusionary language.  

No Bible is an Island...

It should be said, though, that no Bible exists in isolation. The best way to get closer to the heart of the Bible is not to read any single translation of the Bible, but rather to travel between translations and see the different truths that each one brings out in their own, unique way.

When looking for a Bible, there is rarely a better way to find the Bible for you than looking at the different ways each Bible presents God’s word. And so, in the final part of this look at the CSB Bible, we will compare different verses of the CSB with other Bible versions. 

5th April

April 5th, 2017 - Posted & Written by Aaron Lewendon

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