I received a copy of the Holman Christian Standard Study Bible for review from Lifeway. The copy did not arrive in time to promote a Black Friday purchase. It barely reached my house soon enough for a Cyber Monday nod. Personally I am not a fan of either day.
The HCSB Study Bible, or as Ed Stetzer describes it, The Hard Core Southern Baptist Bible, aims to provide both a translation and accompanying material for a new era. According to the publisher “each generation needs a fresh translation,” and “rapid advances in biblical research provide new data for translators.” (Introduction)
My first study bible was The New Scofield Reference Bible in 1979. My friend Todd Mangum co-authored a book commemorating what many consider the first study bible.
A few years later I purchased the Ryrie Study Bible, first published in 1978. Since that time there has been a proliferation of study bibles, not to mention themed editions – Green, Poverty, etc. Both the Scofield and Ryrie Study Bibles represented the notes and studies of chiefly two men.
By contrast, Holman touts the HCSB Study Bible as an interdenominational, collaborative project. This does not negate Stetzer’s playful reference as he rightly points to the theological stream from which come those invited to participate in the translation process or make contribution to the study material found throughout. The goals of the HCSB Study Bible,
- to provide English-speaking people across the world with an accurate, readable Bible in contemporary English
- to equip serious Bible students with an accurate translation for personal study, private devotion, and memorization
- to give those who love God’s Word a text that has numerous reader helps, is visually attractive on the page, and is appealing when heard
- to affirm the authority of Scripture as God’s Word and to champion its absolute truth against social or cultural agendas that would compromise its accuracy
- to continue making improvements to the translation in each printing (Introduction)
The HCSB has been in circulation as a translation of the Bible since 2004. The HCSB Study Bible was published two years ago, 2010. This review is interested in the study features of the HCSB Study Bible rather than a review of the translation philosophy, though readers will find an explanation for the chosen formula for the HCSB. Only those who would believe the King James Version is the only authorized translation, and so also prefer living under the pretense of King James hundreds of years later, would find much distinction between the NASB, NIV, and the ESV, among others.
The publisher, I believe, achieves its aim, “to give . . . a text that has numerous reader helps, is visually attractive.” Those who love God’s Word generally find it appealing to be heard no matter the translation.
I would recommend the HCSB Study Bible for its up-to-date articles, the diversity of contributors within the scope of its underlying location among conservative Evangelicals, and its appealing layout. If I were looking for my first study bible as a conservative Evangelical, I would quickly purchase a copy – even without a Cyber Monday discount.