Tag: Christian Standard Bible

CSB Life Connections Bible Review

CSB Life Connections Bible Review

 

additional photos-click here

The very popular Serendipity Bible for Personal and Small Group Study has made a comeback with the Christian Standard Bible in the Life Connections Study Bible. (Holman Bible Publishers sent me a copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, simply an honest one.)

 

I am admittedly new to the Serendipity Bible so we will begin with a little from the publisher:

 

The CSB Life Connections Study Bible is are a revised and updated version of the best-selling and renowned Serendipity Study Bible. The original Serendipity Study Bible was the culmination of 40 years of community building by Serendipity House Publishers, which revolutionized small groups and personal study through thousands of accessible questions and study helps throughout the Bible.

The CSB Life Connections Study Bible includes thousands of questions and study helps for all 1,189 chapters of the Bible – all updated for today’s readers. This Bible includes short chapter-by-chapter comments about key people, places, and events along with guidance for small group Bible study and personal reflection through the “Open-Consider-Apply” method:

  • Open” questions initiate discussion and/or reflection
  • Consider” questions focus on the details of the passage
  • Apply” questions encourage application to daily life
  • Also included are select “For Groups,” “For Worship,” and “Dig Deeper” questions for further study, reflection, discussion, and application.

 

 

Translation

The Life Connections Study Bible uses the Christian Standard Bible, a natural choice since Lifeway acquired Serendipity House Publishers. CSB is a mediating translation- it is literal when it needs to be but still very readable.  I am currently using the Christian Standard Bible for preaching and teaching.

 

Cover and Binding

I am reviewing the brown leathersoft edition. It is a very convincing imitation leather. Naturally, there is a paste down liner. Most CSB Bibles include a sewn binding and this one is no exception. The sewn binding provides two very nice features: it lays flat very easily and it also makes it fairly floppy and easy to use one handed.

 

Paper, Layout, and Font

The paper is very interesting; it has a different tactile feel than other CSB Bibles that I have felt. It has a little bit of a newsprint feel. The paper is nicely opaque and should provide no issue with annotating. As is most often the case, I recommend ball-point pen, colored pencil, or mechanical pencil.

 

The text of Scripture is laid out in a single column paragraph format. Verse numbers are fairly opaque which makes verse finding fairly easy, especially so if you are teaching in a small group. The notes are a little smallish and are laid out in four columns at the bottom of the page. They are separated from the text by a single bold line. A chapter summary is provided for each chapter of the Bible, set off in a green box. Bible study content is in the outer margin on each page.

 

The font is a black letter text. It is approximately 9.5-point font for the Bible text. Bible study content and commentary notes are about a 7-point font. Perhaps 8-point.

 

Content

Study Questions

This study Bible includes ready-made discussion and study questions for every chapter of the Bible. Some chapters include more than one study and set of questions. There’s an opening question (or ice breaker), some Scripture-driven questions for consideration, and some application questions, all based on the chapter in which the questions are found. Where appropriate, there are also questions for worship, group activities, and digging deeper in Bible study. May of my colleagues are not fans of the “Discussion Model,” and I understand that but there are benefits to this model. The discussion and study questions are designed to help your small group study to think through the process of understanding the text.

Study Guides

There are 16 topical study courses, 60 life needs courses, and 200 Bible stories available for study. The beautiful feature about these additional studies is that they simply point to selected chapter studies in the Bible. Understanding sacred Scripture is the driving force behind every lesson and every study. While that may seem like an obvious statement you would be amazed at just exactly how much “Christian content” not actually geared toward a true understanding and internalization of the Scripture. Next to each lesson is the Scripture from where the lesson draws Truth and the page number where the questions for that chapter are found. A life needs study on sexuality points to specific chapters from which to draw the Texts and questions. Bonus: all the 60 life needs studies have beginner and advanced options and all of them depend on the Scripture with margin questions from the chapters.

Introductions

Each book has a one page introduction covering Author, Date of Writing, Theme, and Historical Background of the Book. I would have liked to see a small outline of some kind.

Is anything missing?

An earlier edition from Serendipity House, the Interactive Study Bible, was in the same format but had Lectionary Readings. I would have liked to see Holman include lectionary readings for those denominations which follow them, such as our Anglican Brethren.

The earlier edition also included options for personal readings and group study readings. There was also a brief comment on the Modern Message of each book.  (How does the message apply to Christians today.)

 

Overall Impression

I am fairly impressed with the Life Connections Study Bible. There are a couple of features that I would have liked to see come forward into the new edition but all in all it looks to be as helpful as it is interesting. I will most likely write a use case study as I am able to put it through its paces in church.

 

Who should buy this Bible?

The Life Connections Bible is ideally suited to the small group leader or, perhaps, the Sunday School Teacher. Even if one does not utilize the “Discussion Model” for teaching, the discussion questions will be most helpful.

 

 

CSB Giant Print Reference Bible Review

CSB Giant Print Reference Bible Review

 

Following my church adopting the Christian Standard Bible as our teaching translation, I sourced a new Bible for preaching and after careful consideration, I ordered the Bible which I am reviewing today, The CSB Giant Print Reference Bible in brown genuine leather (goatskin).  Note: Neither Holman Bibles nor the CSB marketing team provided this Bible for review; I sourced it at my own expense.

 

Additional Bible Photos

 

The Translation Choice:

Why the CSB? In short, technical precision and readability. This is an optimal equivalence or mediating translation, similar to the NIV. The major difference between the two is that the CSB is more toward the formal equivalence end of the spectrum where the more free-flowing NIV is closer to the dynamic equivalence.

Being the more formal of the two lends to the technical precision of the CSB. Also lending to the technical precision of the translation. Christian Standard Bible  is one of the most heavily footnoted of any English Bible translation.

 

The Cover and Binding

Holman has a gift for understatement. This Bible is billed as being genuine leather. On the back of the Bible, itself, you will read, stamped in gold lettering, goatskin leather.  This is the same ironed goatskin that is to be found on the CSB Pastor’s Bible. It is a rich milk chocolate reminiscent of the coloring of a chocolate bar from Cadbury. There is no real grain on this one but that is actually quite nice for my purpose; I am a systematic expositor and I like my preaching Bible to be a bit more reserved.

 

This Bible has a sewn Binding and a paste down liner. In the case of this Bible, the paste down liner was a smart choice; there is a bit of heft and a leather liner could make it a bit unwieldy. By now, you have been reading my reviews enough to understand why a sewn Bible is so very important- it will far outlast a glued binding.

 

Paper, Layout, Font, Indexing

This edition is thumb-indexed. This is not the traditional half-moon indexing; it is more rectangular. The tabs for the New Testament are bright red, a subtle reminder of the blood shed at Calvary.

 

The text block is in a double column paragraph format with verse numbers being in bold. End of verse references are provided. We have a 14-point font with design cues reminiscent  of the NIV’s comfort print. It is very easy on the eyes with the black letters being a deep rich ebony and a dark cranberry for the red lettering. It does look as though line matching has been used as there is not a lot of shadowing.

 

The paper has great opacity for being somewhat thin. I would put it around 28-gsm. You will not have any problems turning the pages and a ball-point pen (I recommend Pilot Brand) or colored pencil (I recommend Prismacolor) should not give you any bleed through.

 

In the Pulpit

I love a very large print in the pulpit and have even preached from the CSB Pulpit Bible but I tend to not stand still so this is a much easier Bible to use. I can hold this Bible at arm’s length or rest it on my podium and read aloud without any issues.

 

Compared to the Pastor’s Bible and the Verse by Verse Reference Bible for preaching

The giant print, amazingly, is slimmer than that of the Pastor’s Bible. This is due to the fact that the Pastor’s Bible has a bit thicker paper. They have the same brown goatskin for the leather cover. I have to give the giant print the win, though for being easier to read in the pulpit.

 

The Verse by Verse is everything I had always wanted in a Bible from the CSB and it is my primary CSB Bible. That being said, there can be no question of the superiority of the Giant Print Reference Bible in terms of font; in all other areas they are equal.

 

As an Everyday Carry Bible

The Giant Print Reference Bible is a standard size Bible. It fits easily into a messenger bag or briefcase. The overall size and wight made it very east to carry. This is my primary ministry Bible at the moment and I found it to bring the perfect blend of form and function.

 

Buy this Bible if

  • You want a huge, easily readable Bible
  • CSB is your preaching/teaching translation
  • You want a Bible that is very utilitarian without a lot of bells, whistles, or distractions
  • You want premium leather feel without breaking your wallet.
Introducing the Bible

Introducing the Bible

The Bible is not one book, but a collection of writings by people from many and varied backgrounds: king, priest, shepherd, tent maker, farmer, doctor, tax collector, wine taster, fisherman, prophet, prince, and more. Each writer was guided by the Holy Spirit of God, yet the individuality and character of each one is still evident. All in all, more than 40 authors were commissioned by the Holy Spirit to pen the words of Holy Scripture.

 

It is all one story however, a perfectly unified telling of the story of the Scarlet Thread of Redemption, the story about God, who loves his creation so much that he himself paid the price that would restore humanity to fellowship with God. The Old Testament looks forward to, and the New Testament centers on, the life, death and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. In part, it is our story- we are the Redeemed, the object of God’s love and mercy, so the Bible is our story- the story of our reconciliation to God.

 

The purpose of the Bible is to show us who God is, what God is like and what He has done. As we read its words, we understand more of what God, in His love, requires from us. Paul said, in his Epistle to the Romans, that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16) and that is both experientially and factually borne out. As we read the very words of Scripture, we find them transforming our thoughts which, in turn, transforms our behavior. We begin to think the way Christ thinks and act the way He acts

 

The Bible was written centuries ago over a long period of time by many different people from all walks of life, in a setting different from our own. It can seem difficult to understand and, admittedly, it will require work-disciplined work- to understand the message of the Scripture. When we study a portion of Scripture, we should consider the following questions”

 

  • What is the type of writing/literary genre?
  • What was the context of the writing?
  • What was the Authorial Intent?/Why was the passage written
  • What does the passage say to me? What does God expect me to do after reading the passage?

 

We will discover the joy of reading the Bible

if we read while dependent on the Holy Spirit to help us understand it if we sincerely want to know more about God and his ways if we prayerfully read it to discover its message, rather than primarily as literature or for information if we allow our reading to lead us to worship God through prayer and praise and apply what we have learnt, with God’s help, to our daily life

 

When reading a portion of Scripture, there are some “Do nots” we must not ever

 

  • take a verse or one part of Scripture out of its context
  • create an opinion based only on one verse or portion – this is the error of cults and those who want to twist the meaning for their own ends
  • Spiritualize/allegorize the meaning of the text. It means what it says
  • think of it as anything other than the word of God.

 

The Scriptures were written by real people in many real situations, under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration. It is alive, powerful, and able to impact our thoughts and lives for years to come (Hebrews 4:12)

 

A final thought: when you are new to the Bible, the translation you choose should be very easy to read and understand but still communicate the message of Scripture to you. There are three translations I recommend for new disciples:

 

  • Christian Standard Bible (Holman Bibles)
  • New Living Translation (Tyndale House Publishers)
  • New International Version (Biblica, Zondervan Publishers)

 

Which one to choose is entirely up to you- the best translation of the Bible is the one you can read and understand.

CSB Verse by Verse Reference Bible Reviw

CSB Verse by Verse Reference Bible Reviw

 

Anyone who knows me will know that a verse by verse format is my preferred format for a Bible. Single column verse by verse is my ultimate but double column works just as well. In this article, we are reviewing the CSB Verse by Verse Reference Bible, which Holman Bible Publishers was good enough to send me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review and my opinions are my own.

 

Click me for photos

 

A Fun Fact to Start:

A.J. Holman is the oldest Bible publisher in the U.S. They beat out Thomas Nelson by just a couple years. With over 200 years publishing, they are one of the oldest Bible publishers still in operation (Cambridge University Press is still the oldest with nearly 500 years of experience.) Nowadays AJ Holman Company is the H in B&H publishing or Broadman and Holman if you like to use the formal name.

 

The Translation

This Bible is in the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). Previous to licensing to AMG for the excellent Keyword Bible, which I also reviewed, Holman was the exclusive publisher.

 

CSB is a mediating translation of the Bible, though Holman calls this Optimal Equivalence (OE). An OE translation strives to give the best balance between fastidiously literal (think NASB) or free flowing and meaning based (think NLT) . It is fastidiously literal where it needs to be and very free flowing where it needs to be. It reads, and sounds, fairly close to the NIV with the major distinction being that the Christian Standard Bible leans more toward the literal end of the translation spectrum than does the NIV. Both translations are on a middle school comprehension level; if you like to be technical, I would rate it as 8th Grade on the Flesh-Kincaid Readability Matrix. Most of parishioners will not have any comprehension issues with the CSB but the younger crowd will, naturally, need to grow into it.

 

Is it a scholarly translation? Well, that depends on what you mean by scholarly. It is not ecumenical and most definitely is not liberal. It is very well suited for discipleship and study. Here are just a few of the Bible teachers, seminary presidents, and university faculty who endorse/approve of the CSB: Dr. Danny Akin, Dr. Ed Hindson, Dr. Tony Evans, Allistair Begg, Robby Gallaty, Dr. David Dockery, Dr. Gary Coombs, Pastor Matthew Bassford, Pastor and Theologian Kofi Adu-Boahen, and me, Pastor Matthew Sherro. Do not forget that a major and extremely conservative publishing house, AMG, has licensed the CSB for their Keyword Study Bible.

 

All that to say…In the pulpit, in the classroom, or in your living room, you can trust that the CSB is a faithful and accurate translation. You can build your teachings and devotions on the CSB without worry.

 

Cover and Binding

There are two options available, brown bonded leather (which I am reviewing) and black goatskin. The bonded leather has a paste down lining with a bit of a pebbled grain. To the touch, this is a higher quality of bonded leather than what other publishers are using so I do not think it will wear out quite as fast.

 

Most Bible publishers have gone back to sewing their text blocks which is outstanding. Now if they would just print and bind in the U.S.A. There are publishers who do and yet keep the prices affordable but I digress… The sewn binding ensures the text block will hold up well over the years.

 

Layout, Paper, and Font

The layout is double column verse by verse with each verse beginning on a new line. The Bible looks to be line matched which lends to the readability of the text. Verse numbers are in cranberry red to aid in finding the number.

 

Why is verse by verse important? Verse by Verse is the ideal format for those who preach and teach. Each verse begins on a new line making it much easier to locate the verse which you will use for preaching.

 

The font was designed by 2k/Denmark. Many Bible publishers have been using them and a single glance is all that is necessary to understand why. Their fonts are the perfect blend of utility and aesthetics. This Bible is no exception, in my estimation, it is the most reader friendly font offered in a Holman Bible. Of course this is a black letter edition, however, the chapter headings, verse numbers, and page navigation are all in cranberry to make navigating the text easier.

 

The paper is soft white, far more muted than in other Bibles, and, so, is very easy on the eyes. Being gloriously opaque does not hurt that Bibles cause at all.  Sometimes Bible paper can reflect the dazzling brightness of the sun into your eyes if reading outside. Thankfully this does not happen here.

 

It is a wide-margin edition, hitting two of my sweet spots in Bible design. Margins measure approximately 1.1 inches wide. I am using this Bible in conjunction with the Bible from AMG so I have not decided, yet, if I will write in this one as well. I do like the option and may add some mini word studies which I would not want to forget in the pulpit. It is not a journaling Bible, the margins are too small for that. Rather, it is clear to me that Holman desired to give the Bible teacher his best tool possible.

 

Helps

Footnotes

Holman is well noted for having the most translation footnotes in a mainstream translation at around 30,000 annotations depending on edition. The NET does have twice as many but I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of pastors I know who are in possession of an NET Bible full notes edition (I actually have it on 3 different software platforms but I am a huge nerd.)

 

It looks as though we get the full body of footnotes and I am delighted to see that. We are treated to alternate translations, manuscript variants, etc. Got a question about the text? Look at the bottom of the page and chances are the translators have provided it for you.

 

References

There are around 63,000 organic references in the Scriptures (One verse illuminates another without being part of a topical chain.) and Holman gave us all of them. On each page, they can be found at the bottom of the right hand column. I have grown to prefer this as it prevents the flow of the text from being interrupted.

 

Full Concordance

Holman has provided a full concordance (though not an exhaustive one). It runs to 75 pages with 3 columns of entries per page. Sufficient content is provided to teach on just about any topic you can imagine.

 

Actual Use Scenario

I am pairing this with AMG’s Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bible with the latter for study and this for preaching and teaching. I have told a number of colleagues that if there were a verse by verse CSB available, I would use it more and I aim to make good on that promise. I have also made the statement that this is what the CSB Pastor’s Bible ought to have been in the first place. Allegedly most pastors want a single column paragraph Bible for preaching, but I have not met a single one who shares that sentiment. The CSB Verse by Verse is the ideal CSB Preaching Bible and Holman should change the name and call it exactly that, the CSB Preaching Bible.

 

Should you buy it?

For CSB users, this is one of two must haves. If you have been paying attention, you have already deduced the other. I will go a step further…If you preach from CSB, don’t take any other Bible into the pulpit than this.

CSB Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bible Review

CSB Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bible Review

 

One of the top two Study Bibles, AMG’s Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bible, has combined with one of fastest growing translations on the market, the Christian Standard Bible. Admittedly, the two have been together for a while but this is the first opportunity I have had to review the combination. This review, however, was not solicited by AMG but is, rather the result of a gift to our ministry.

 

Click for Photos

 

Why is the Keyword Bible important?

I have said that the Keyword Study Bible is one of the top two Bibles and want to explain why I think it is a vital investment for many Christians.

 

Most of the teachers in any particular church are not seminary trained, and in reality, the bulk of pastors around the world are not seminary trained, so they will have limited experience with the original languages of the Bible for lesson preparation. This is where AMG really shines in the Christian publishing world, it makes the original languages more accessible to the average Bible teacher. More on that when we get to the tools.

 

The Translation

The Keyword Bible is finally available in the Christian Standard Bible, one of the fastest growing translations on the market, one that I suspect will soon rival NIV. A couple of unexpected colleagues have recently adopted the CSB which prompted my looking a little further into the translation.

 

Similar to the NIV, CSB is a mediating translation. This is a blending of the rigidly literal word for word translation style of Bibles like he NASB and the free flowing meaning based style of translations of Bibles such as the NLT. There are areas where CSB is very literal, precise, and technical and other areas where it is free flowing and more meaning based. CSB calls this Optimal Equivalence; optimal is quite a fitting word for the translation.

 

Cover and Binding

This is a very highly grained genuine leather cover with a paste down liner. This is one of the few Bibles where I prefer a paste down liner, which AMG did give to us. Of course they sewed the binding; you cannot have a good quality study Bible without a sewn binding as they will not last.

 

Layout, Font, & Paper

The Keyword Bible has a double column format with center column references. The verses are laid out in a paragraph format as opposed to a verse by verse, where each verse would begin on a new line. We are also given a 1-inch margin although my copy is thumb indexed making the margins a little smaller but I won’t miss the margins

The font is crisp and deep ebony for the black letter and a rich cranberry for the red letters.

 

The Keyword Bible is one of those Bibles which demand to be written in and marked up (I have a brand new set of Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils waiting to do just that.) and the paper is quite opaque and a little thick. I would guess about 32 GSMs on the paper. Were I to describe the color of the paper, I would call it eggshell white; your colored pencils will work out very nicely on the paper.

 

Tools

 

What really makes this Bible different and sets it apart are the grammatical codes and notations. There are numbers, letters, and underlining within the Scripture text. Words that are underlined have the Strong’s number. You can look these numbers up in the dictionary in the back. If the number is bold, the entry will be expanded (annotated). If the number is not bold, it’s just the regular Strong’s entry. Not every word gives the Strong’s number. There are lots of them on every page, but there will always be one that I want to be coded that’s not coded. For these words I have to look them up myself and write the number over the word. Grammatical codes are a string of letters that appear before the word. They are only found in the New Testament. These codes show the part of speech for that word. There is a list of grammatical codes in the back and on a supplied bookmark.

Book Introductions

The book introductions are about a half a page each. They cover the history and customs (limited) of the people the book was written to or about, and gives information of the significance of the book. I cannot speak for others but this is one area that I would have liked to see developed a little more. Since Dr. Zodhiates is, himself, Greek, it would have been very nice to have some material on Greek culture. If nothing else, a 1 page article could have gone a long way towards helping to understand the New Testament better.

Notes Section

The notes at the bottom of the page discuss theological, exegetical, historical, and geographical points from the text. This is not like a standard study Bible with lots of commentary on every page. The main function of this study Bible is to be a linguistic aid rather than a commentary packed into a Bible. If you are looking for commentary, this Bible probably is not for you; if you want to better understand Scripture (especially if you are a Bible teacher) then this is not a should have it is a must have. If I could only have 2 Bibles for the rest of my life, this and the Thompson Chain Reference Bible are what I would choose. Between the two, you will find that you have everything necessary to grow in your knowledge of the Bible and of the Lord.

The study notes are provided by Dr. Spiros Zodhiates the founder of AMG. They are fairly influence free and exhibit mainstream evangelical thought. Unlike most study Bibles, though, this Bible does not provide notes on most passages of the Bible. Rather it provides notes on key passages of scripture and every verse has a keyword noted and linked to the dictionary in the back. On a side note, it is quite useful to understanding the New Testament that Dr. Zodhiates was Greek. Who better to explain a Greek Text than a native Greek?

 

Grammatical Codes

The Grammatical Codes section contains a page with all of the codes and 3 pages of examples. The codes show the verb tense forms of the Greek. The information explaining how to use the codes is found in the next section – Grammatical Notations. I would recommend placing the Grammatical Codes after the Grammatical Notations, so the explanation on how to use them comes before the codes themselves. The information is in this Bible, it’s just a little confusing at first because it looks like two separate sections when it really should be one section.

Grammatical Notations

The Grammatical Notations section is 20 pages and explains how to use the Grammatical Codes. The focus is on verbs. It covers the five features of verbs (tense, voice, mood, person, and number. They are written so that anyone can use them).  Each of the features are explained and plenty of examples are given. They give enough information to be helpful and get you started, but it doesn’t give you everything you need to know. This section is very clear about that and gives references to other works to help learn Koine (New Testament) Greek. This section is the most technical and difficult to use.

 

Pastoral Use

I have Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bibles in three of the four translations I use most-NIV, NASB, and Now CSB. I had an NKJV as well but passed it on to another pastor (replacing that one is on my agenda). As a pastor, and this would work out well for any other Bible teacher, I study with the Keyword Bible and preach from a somewhat smaller Bible.

 

The Keyword Bible calls out the essential Hebrew and Greek words for your audience to know. You could almost build your lessons around just those but I do not want you to do that. Historical and cultural backgrounds must be added to the original languages.

 

Final Thoughts

Pick your translation and own one- there is no excuse for a Bible teacher to be without a Keyword Bible. The Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bible is far and away the best study Bible you can own, especially in light of how accessible it makes the original biblical languages. My friend and colleague up in Oregon, the noted pastor-scholar Kofi Adu-Boahen has called this the most underrated Study Bible on the market and he is absolutely correct- many of my fellow teachers have said they have never considered the Keyword Bible and that is a tragedy that they should willingly cheat themselves out of such an excellent tool. Another colleague, the eminent pastor, Randy Brown, speaks of the Keyword Bible in more even more glowing terms than I do. To repeat, every Bible teacher should own one.

Pastor Matt Bassford on Switching to CSB

Pastor Matt Bassford on Switching to CSB

This morning we have a guest post from a colleague, Pastor Matt Bassford at Jackson Heights Church of Christ. Matt recently adopted the Christian Standard Bible as his preaching and teaching Bible and he has been gracious enough to share his thoughts. (More information can be found at Matt Bassford’s Blog

Why I Switched to the CSB

English-speaking Christians are blessed with a plethora of good translations of the Bible. Of course, translation is an art, not a science. There are no perfect translations, nor will there ever be.

However, practically every translation that we’re likely to encounter is more faithful to the original Hebrew and Greek texts we have than the Septuagint is to its Hebrew originals. If the Holy Spirit thought the Septuagint was good enough to incorporate into the New Testament, whatever we’ve got is good enough to get us to heaven!

Because we are so spoiled for choice, though, those of us who care about the Bible are likely to move from translation to translation, looking for one that is maybe a little bit more perfect than the rest. In my time as a preacher/Bible reviewer, I’ve preached and taught from at least 10 different translations, and at various times, I’ve used three translations (NASB, NKJV, and ESV) for my primary text.

A couple of months ago, though, I decided to try out a fourth translation for my every-day Bible—the Christian Standard Bible, or CSB. When I switched from NASB to ESV a few years ago, the CSB was a strong second-place finisher, and my occasional use of it ever since gradually swayed me to adopt it. Several factors played into this decision:

VOLUME QUALITY. My copy of the CSB is bound in edge-lined goatskin that Holman sent me as a promo copy in 2017 when they rolled the translation out. It’s true that I love edge-lined Bibles, and once you’ve gotten used to one, it’s tough to go back to paste-down.

However, it’s really the quality of the setting of the CSB that influenced me here. My CSB was set by 2K, a Danish shop that is world-famous for its Bible designs, and the quality shows. It’s better designed than the ESV I was using before. My CSB is prettier, easier to read, and has cross-references that are easier to use. As far as I’m concerned, anything that makes reading and studying the word more pleasant is well worth adopting!

STYLISTIC QUALITY. I love the English language and rejoice in good writing. As a result, I struggle to love translations that prioritize faithfulness to the words of the Greek (and sometimes even to Greek grammar) over making clear sense in English. Brethren often are fond of these translations (I think because they appear to remove human judgment from translation, though in truth they do not), but they often pose obstacles to our understanding. These obstacles can be surmounted in verse-by-verse study (as when the preacher reads a verse and then pauses to explain what it means in normal English), but they often make Bible reading difficult, especially for new Christians who don’t speak fluent NASB.

By contrast, the style of the CSB is accessible and lively. Instead of talking like Bible characters, speakers in the CSB sound like real people. For instance, in Luke 6:46 in the CSB, Jesus says, “Why do you call me “Lord, Lord” and don’t do the things I say?”

The CSB also is full of aptly phrased renderings. Consider the difference between Ruth 2:12 in the NASB (“May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”) and the CSB (“May the LORD reward you for what you have done, and may you receive a full reward from the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”). The NASB undeniably sounds more Hebraic, with idioms like “your wages be full”, but it’s the CSB that sounds like good English. That’s important!

TEXTUAL FAITHFULNESS. It is, of course, possible for translators to take accessibility too far. Unlike most brethren, I’ve used the NLT extensively (I read the whole thing cover-to-cover a few years back), and though I like it for reading, I feel like the translators take too many liberties, especially in the New Testament, for the translation to be suitable for close study. When I’m reading from the NLT, there are a dozen places in the book of Romans alone where I stop and say, “Man; they sure booted that one!”

The translators of the CSB are much more careful. So far, at least, I feel that the translation sacrifices little in the way of nuance and faithfulness in exchange for great gains in style and clarity. Of course, there are CSB renderings that I don’t like, but there are renderings in every translation I don’t like. To this point, they are infelicities I can live with.

I also like the balance that the CSB has struck on gender equality. The translators generally render the Greek _adelphoi_ as “brothers and sisters” (unless the context makes it clear that only males are under discussion), and they replace “how blessed is the man” in Psalm 1:1 with “how blessed is the one”. However, the pronoun throughout Psalm 1 is “he”, and the translators preserve the singular “son of man” in Psalm 8:4 (compare “human beings” in the NIV). It remains to be seen whether the upcoming 2020 revision of the NASB will fare as well.

I certainly don’t insist that every Christian out there needs to switch to the CSB Right This Minute. It almost certainly is true that the Bible you’re using right now is get-you-to-heaven good (though if you struggle to adhere to a Bible-reading program, consider that your choice of translation and setting may be at fault). However, for those who are looking for another Bible or simply are curious, the CSB is well worth checking out.

CSB Pastor’s Bible Review

CSB Pastor’s Bible Review

 

The most important tool any pastor carries is his Bible and a number of publishers have released special Bibles for pastors, all of which are worth consideration.  Previously, we have reviewed the EVS Pastor’s Bible from Crossway and today we are reviewing the CSB Pastor’s Bible in brown genuine leather. (Note: This Bible was acquired at my own expense; no review has been solicited by Holman Bible Publishers.)

 

Before we begin, some information from Holman…

Product Description

Available in two editions, Genuine Leather or Deluxe Leather-Touch-the CSB Pastor’s Bible is ideal for pastoral use during preaching, officiating services, or personal study. Helpful features include a single-column setting, large type, wide margins, a special insert section in the middle of the Bible. Also contains outlines for officiating weddings and funerals, and extensive tools and articles from some of today’s respected pastors and church leaders. The CSB Pastor’s Bible is a valuable life-long resource for Pastors.

 

Features include:

  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Single-column text
  • Footnotes
  • Black-letter text
  • 10-point type
  • Concordance
  • Presentation page
  • Two-piece gift box
  • Over 17 articles on leadership and ministry by experienced pastors and leaders disbursed throughout the Bible’s pages
  • Outlines for officiating weddings and funerals

The CSB Pastor’s Bible features the highly reliable, highly readable text of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB), which stays as literal as possible to the Bible’s original meaning without sacrificing clarity. The CSB’s optimal blend of accuracy and readability makes Scripture more moving, more memorable, and more motivating to read and share with others.

A Few Remarks About CSB

The choice to preach and teach from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is one that more and more pastors are making and I can see why. On a number of occasions, I have described the CSB as the perfect blend of NASB (the most literal) and the NIV (the most popular). CSB is fastidiously literal yet very easy to read. I would estimate at an approximately 8th grade level, which is excellent because it will afford the teacher of God’s word the broadest audience spectrum possible. I have mentioned, in previous articles, that CSB is one of the 3 main translations that I use for regular reading. I am happy to commend the CSB to you; you will find it to be very accurate, readable, and most importantly, faithful to the original text.

Cover and Binding

I selected the brown genuine leather version, for myself, and I want to tell you two things about it. 1. Brown genuine leather is a total understatement. This is actually goatskin leather, as you will see stamped on the back of the Bible. 2. This goatskin cover is absolutely exquisite and I cannot believe that you can find a goatskin Bible at this price ($99.99)

The liner is a paste down, which I think contributes to the pricing. Here, in Phoenix, the heat can make a paste down liner a little problematic because if you leave it in your car, you can melt the paste (This has actually happened to me in the past.).

The block, itself, is sewn. If you know anything about bindings, you know that a sewn binding is the only type that will stand up to the near constant punishment a pastor will subject his Bible to and I can confidently state that the cover will wear out before the sewn binding will.

Layout, Font, and Margins

This Bible is laid out in a single column paragraph format. The margins are approximately 1-inch. A wide margin is essential for a pastor so that you can mark out your notes and references.

2k/Denmark designed the font and, even though it is officially a 10-point font, it reads more like an 11-point to my eyes. The text is black letter and I have found this to be much more useful in the pulpit than a red letter.

The single column paragraph format works out well for large scale consumption of the Biblical text and, since consuming the Biblical text is a pastor’s most important undertaking, this format is highly desirable.

Helps

At the end of the Bible are the various pastoral helps.  These include a “where to turn” section with Scripture references to help (pictured below), “A Brief Biblical Theology of Leadership,” “Eight Traits of Effective Church Leaders,” “Pastor, Find Your Identity in Christ,” “Glorifying God in Your Ministry,” “What is Biblical Preaching?,” “Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures,” “What is Doctrinal Preaching?,” “Four Keys for Giving an Effective Invitation,” “Five Ways to Improve Congregational Singing,” “Soul Care: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love,” “Letter to the Church,” “Five Steps to Start and Keep an Evangelistic Culture,” “How Do You Disciple Others?,” “The One Thing You Must Do as a Student Pastor,” and “Sharing the Gospel with Children.”

In between Psalms and Proverbs is where you will find the “Life Events” helps. These are for weddings, funerals and so on.  Noticeably absent are helps for communion and baptism as well as cross-references, which can all be found in the rival ESV Pastor’s Bible. Whether or not missing these helps is problematic will depend entirely upon who you are as a pastor. The helps that are “missing” I have in other books that are in my library.

There are 3 ribbons provided so you can mark your spot in each of the 3 major sections of the Bible: Old Testament, Worship and Wisdom, and New Testament.

As A Carry Bible

The Pastor’s Bible is not small but it is not overly large, either. I would list it as just right. It fits in my bag easily, I can hold it one handed without my hand/arm getting tired, and it pairs well with my iPad when placed on my pulpit.

Final Thoughts

Would I recommend the CSB Pastor’s Bible? Yes. As the pastor at Abounding Grace Baptist Church, I use different translations (NLT, CSB, & NASB) for different purposes and I definitely plan on moving the pastor’s Bible into rotation as my pastoral care and discipleship Bible. I will also be using it alongside my Tyndale Select NLT Reference Bible for large scale consumption of the Biblical text.

 

Spurgeon Study Bible Review

Spurgeon Study Bible Review

Charles Spurgeon…The words are often spoken with reverence as if the words themselves define what it means to be a pastor. Spurgeon is often called the Prince of Preachers and deservedly so. However, there has always been one disadvantage…you cannot have Spurgeon in your living room teaching the Bible. Holman Bible Publishers and Allistair Begg have been able to remedy that with the Spurgeon Study Bible.

I was asked, by a friend, for a one sentence reaction to the Spurgeon Study Bible and here it is, “I liked the Spurgeon Study Bible review copy so much that I procured a goatskin one so that I will be able to use it till Jesus returns.”  (NOTE: The Hardcover in the pictures was sent free of charge in exchange for an honest review; the goatskin was not. My opinions are my own.)

Features include:

  • Introductory Biography of Charles Spurgeon
  • Study notes crafted from Spurgeon sermons
  • Spurgeon’s sermon illustrations placed on the same page as the associated biblical text
  • Sermon notes and outlines in Spurgeon’s own handwriting
  • “Spurgeon Quotables” inserted throughout the Bible
  • Book introductions with book overviews in Spurgeon’s own words
  • Two-column text
  • Concordance
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Presentation Page
  • Full-color maps

About the Translation

The Spurgeon Study Bible is published in Holman’s own translation, the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). CSB is an Optimal Equivalency or Mediating Translation; it does not swing too far on the thought-for-thought end of the translation spectrum nor does it swing too far toward the word-for-word end of the spectrum. I find it to be fairly in the middle.

The CSB is an excellent choice for teaching and study and, in fact, is one of the translations I use daily alongside NASB, NLT, and NIV. Several ministers that I know, personally, have switched to CSB and, frankly, the only reason I have not is because most of my audience was already using NLT before they became my audience and I felt it would be easier to use the Bible they already have rather than have them try to switch to what I’m using. I feel confident in recommending the CSB to you for your daily use.

To be a little more specific on the translation, it is like the perfect combination of the NIV and the NASB. It is very readable though a little more challenging than the NLT but the translation is easily readable enough for students of any age. I always recommend using two translations in a study session and my favorite pairings for CSB are these: CSB/NLT for devotional readings and CSB/NASB for lesson prep and academic study.

The Introductions

The Introductions are 1-page each. They provide an overview of each book in Spurgeon’s own words as well as how the book contributes to the Bible. There is also some information about the structure of the book and the circumstances of writing.

You won’t find any outlines in the Spurgeon Study Bible. Normally this would annoy me, but in the case of this particular Bible, it actually makes sense. Spurgeon focused more on pastoral understanding of the Scripture as opposed to academic theology.

The Notes

The notes provided aren’t commentary in the traditional sense that you find in most study Bibles. These notes come from Spurgeon’s sermons. While they do not cover every single verse of the Bible, and I would not want them to, they provide an excellent understanding of how God spoke through the man who is arguably the greatest preacher since the Apostle Paul.

Translation Notes

The Translation Notes have been reduced in quantity to allow for the other notes on the Bible. They can usually be found in a green box under a column of text.

Spurgeon’s Sermon Outlines, Quotes and Illustrations

There are 20 one page outlines from Spurgeon. They’re from The Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon: His Earliest Outlines and Sermons Between 1851 and 1854, Volume 1 from B&H Academic.  They take two pages – one page is a facsimile of the hand-written sermon and the opposite page, you will find the sermon outline typed out.

You will also find quotes on particular passages of Scripture and sermon illustrations sprinkled throughout the text.

The Paper and Font

The paper here is fairly opaque. I would put it between 28 and 32 gsms. 2k/Denmark provided the design layout in their Bible Serif font. If you have ever seen a 2k/Denmark layout, they are incredibly easy to read. I did have a couple challenges but those challenges resulted from deficiencies in my own eyes and not anything to do with the font. The fact that this Bible is a black letter text is very useful when it comes to being able to read it.

My goatskin leather edition also includes tabbed indexing. These are small rectangular tabs cut into the text block as opposed to the rounded thumb-index type. Many of my colleagues have mixed feelings about indexing tabs but they can be useful. If you have not memorized the order of the books of the Bible, or if you are like me and sometimes need rapid reference to a particular section of Scripture, they can be most helpful.

Cover Options

There are 4 Cover Options available, Cloth Over Board, Black & Brown LeatherTouch, Burgundy & Marble Leather Touch, Black Genuine Leather (Actually goatskin). The cloth over board is very nice and sturdy and would be well suited for daily carry, especially for students. For taking into the pulpit, the goatskin is phenomenal. It is vinyl lined so it is a little stiffer than a leather lined Bible but this is in no way a negative as it will still lay flat due to its sewn binding.

What Holman is doing with their Bible covers is absolutely amazing. The LeatherTouch (imitation leather) is incredibly realistic and, I think, is even more convincing than what Crossway offers. The true surprise, though, is goatskin with tabbed-indexing for $99.99 which is normally what you would pay for a pigskin genuine leather.

I am not sure who the source of the leather is, or the bindery house, but it is very well done. The skin is very soft and smooth, almost like it was ironed goatskin but there is the tiniest bit of grain that you can feel as you run your fingers, slowly, over the leather.

Is Anything Missing

There are two features that are noticeably absent but their absence does not detract from this Bible: Book Outlines (mentioned earlier) and Center Column Cross References. The CSB Spurgeon Study Bible is not intended as an academic aid like most other study Bibles are; it is much more pastoral in nature. To me, it feels like you really do have Spurgeon in your living room mentoring you.

Final Thoughts

Spurgeon was, perhaps, the greatest pastor since the Apostle Paul and, in the Spurgeon Study Bible, you get to see the heart of the pastor and you get to be mentored by Spurgeon. I would rate the Spurgeon Study Bible a perfect 10.

 

CSB Study Bible Review

CSB Study Bible Review

This particular review has taken me a little longer than normal, not because there is anything wrong with the CSB Translation but because old habits die hard. The HCSB, predecessor to the CSB has been one of the translations that I have used for a number of years and I am trying to make it a main translation but after 21 years with NASB, old habits really do die hard.

The particular CSB that we are reviewing today is the CSB Study Bible in jacketed hardcover which was provided by B&H Publishing free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

The CSB Study Bible is an update to the HCSB version of the Holman Study Bible.

From the Publisher

The CSB Study Bible continues to offer the ECPA award winning Holman study system with all of its study notes and tools uniquely designed to be on the same page as the biblical text to which they refer. Newly expanded to offer additional word studies, feature articles on the apostles by Dr. Sean McDowell, and more.

The CSB Study Bible features the highly reliable, highly readable text of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB), which stays as literal as possible to the Bible’s original meaning without sacrificing clarity. The CSB’s optimal blend of accuracy and readability makes Scripture more moving, more memorable, and more motivating to read it today — and share it always.

For the growing believer whose desire is to know Scripture more intimately and live out its loving instruction, the CSB Study Bible always keeps you and God on the same page.

Features include:

  • 368 word studies to introduce you to the context and meaning behind key Greek and Hebrew words
  • High-quality smyth-sewn binding that will lie open whether you are reading Genesis 1 or Revelation 22
  • Full-color visuals to help you see the structure and context of Scripture come alive, including 94 photographs, 55 maps, 44 paintings, 21 illustrations/reconstructions, 19 charts, and 61 timelines
  • Introductions and outlines for each book, including background information, theological themes, and insights into the unique contribution of each book
  • Easy-to-read layout with two columns of text, center-column cross-references, and three columns of notes

Why do you need a study Bible?

A number of my colleagues do not care for study Bibles and I think this is a bit short sighted. The primary audience for a study Bible is a new disciple. Fully 95% of the Christians in America will not get the benefit of Bible College but will need resources to help them grow. A good study Bible, and this one is an excellent choice, will provide an excellent foundation for discipling a new believer.

Translation Choice

The CSB is what we would call a mediating translation, or to use B&H’s description, Optimal Equivalence. It is not strictly literal like the NASB nor is it an entirely meaning based translation like NIV or NLT. You will find the text to be literal where it needs to be and meaning based where it needs to be. All in all, I really like the translation and I will eventually replace my NASB and NIV with the CSB and the NLT.

Study Notes

The study notes are conservatively estimated at 15,000 but I would say that we are closer to 20,000. The notes easily rival both the MacArthur and ESV Study Bibles, two of my favorites. They are very comprehensive and do not simply explain the text but they provide cultural and theological background as well.

The predecessor, HCSB, was often times called the “Hard Core Southern Baptist Bible” because it is copyrighted and published by a Southern Baptist entity. However, the notes are not strictly Southern Baptist, even less so now than in the preceding edition. I would say they are pretty much mainstream evangelical.

Hebrew and Greek Word Studies (CSB Only)

There are times when you need to go deeper into a word’s meaning to be able to interpret Scripture correctly. The CSB Version of the Holman Study Bible offers Hebrew and Greek Word Studies. A word study will feature the word, its pronunciation, how it is translated in the CSB, an explanation of the word’s use in the Bible. This is arguably my favorite feature in the Holman Study Bible. In the updated version we are treated to 315 Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic word studies.

The word studies do not take the place of learning any of the original languages but they are most helpful for a Sunday School Teacher or a younger pastor who wants to go a little more in-depth with the audience.

If there was to be one feature that would cause me to recommend this study Bible over some others, it would be the word studies.

Additional Helps

141 photos, 62 timelines, 59 maps, 40-page concordance, 20 articles and essays on practical and theological issues, 16 illustrations and reconstructions, and 15 charts all come together to make what is doubtlessly one of the best tools you can add to your library.

The photos bring Scripture to life in new ways as they enable visualization of the lands of the Bible that may have been hard to imagine before. The timelines bring the historical context into the Bible and the charts present key information in a systematic way for more practical study

Overall Impression

All in all, I like the CSB Study Bible. I would prefer the paper to be a little heavier so that I felt comfortable writing in it but that is simply a niggling little complaint. Despite snarky remarks from its detractors, there is not really any denominational or theological bias in the CSB Study Bible.

If this is going to be your main/only Bible, spend a little more and get a leather edition. There is nothing wrong with a hardcover but it will wear out faster than a leather edition will.

 

 

CSB Ultrathin Reference Bible Review

CSB Ultrathin Reference Bible Review

 

 

 

In 1999, we were introduced to the New Testament of one of the most interesting English Bible translations that has ever been made; in 2004 the full text joined its New Testament Counterpart and the Holman Christian Standard Bible changed the market forever. The Holman portion of HCSB stems from the AJ Holman publishing company, now part of B&H, which edges out Thomas Nelson as the oldest Bible publisher in America. Going as far back as I can remember, Bibles from Holman and, later, Broadman & Holman (now simply B&H) have been marked by high quality and coupled with affordability which demonstrates a commitment to get the Bible into the hands of as many new people as possible. It is this missionary commitment that is responsible for the Christian Standard Bible, the newest iteration of the HCSB.

I am reviewing the Ultrathin Reference Bible in black leather touch, which was provided free by Holman Bible Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Translation

Holman offers the following information about the translation methodology

“OPTIMAL EQUIVALENCE

  • The CSB was created using Optimal Equivalence, a translation philosophy that balances linguistic precision to the original languages and readability in contemporary English.
  • In the many places throughout Scripture where a word-for-word rendering is clearly understandable, a literal translation is used. When a word-for-word rendering might obscure the meaning for a modern audience, a more dynamic translation is used. This process assures that both the words and thoughts contained in the original text are conveyed as accurately as possible for today’s readers.
  • On one hand, the CSB provides a highly accurate text for sermon preparation and serious study, translated from the biblical languages by scholars who love God’s Word. On the other hand, it doesn’t compromise readability and clarity for those who may be less familiar with the traditional (and sometimes difficult) vocabulary retained in some translations.
  • Research shows the CSB is both highly literal to the original languages and highly readable, achieving an optimal balance of the two.”

I find the CSB translation to be excellent, so much so that is has become one of my main resources. I have studied in NASB for 21 years and have used HCSB since 2004. Admittedly, it has only been in the last two years that I have made the CSB one of my main translations. That being said, I am quite glad that it has become one of my primary translations.

From Lifeway

The CSB Ultrathin Reference Bible is easy-to-carry and easy-to-read, featuring a robust center-column, cross-reference system, 8-point type, and an ultrathin design which slips easily into a purse, briefcase, or backpack. Holman Bible Publishers was a pioneer in the development of Ultrathin Bibles, giving careful attention to breakthroughs in typography and paper manufacturing to produce a Bible that combines readability and portability, as well as durability. Features include: Smyth-sewn binding, Presentation page, Two-column text, Center-column cross references, Topical subheadings, Words of Christ in red, 8.25-point type, Concordance, Full-color maps, and more. The CSB Ultrathin Reference Bible features the highly reliable, highly readable text of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB), which stays as literal as possible to the Bible’s original meaning without sacrificing clarity. The CSB’s optimal blend of accuracy and readability makes Scripture more moving, more memorable, and more motivating to read it today — and share it always.

Product Information

Format: Leather Touch/Genuine Leather

Number of Pages: 1328

Vendor: Holman Bible Publishers

Publication Date: 2017

Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 X 1.25 (inches)

ISBN: 143364763X

ISBN-13: 9781433647635

References: Center Column Cross References

Text Layout: Double Column

Text Color: Red Letter

Text Size: 8 Point

Thumb Index: No

Ribbon Marker: Yes

Spine: Sewn

Page Gilding: Silver

Physical Form of the Bible

Cover type & Binding

B&H calls this cover type “leather touch” meaning that it should feel like a real leather even though it is not. I really like it; as far as imitation leathers go, Holman and Crossway have some of the most convincing materials you will find and this particular leather touch actually tricked a couple of my friends into believing that it was genuine leather. Given the high quality of materials that Holman is using, I do not think that you will have any issues with this Bible falling apart due to manufacturing issues.

The binding appears to be a sewn binding. To remind you of why you want that, sewn bindings stand up to heavy use better which allows them to last longer. (One of my Bibles is my great great grandmothers Holman KJV Bible that is well over 100 years old.) Because of the paste down liner, it will not lay flat right away but it breaks in quickly and you should be able to get it to lay flat after around a month of daily use.

Font, Readability, and Paper

The paper is bright white and opaque. The center column references are a little small for my eyes but for people with no visual impairment there will not be any issues. The font is 8-point and fairly bold. Normally red letters in a Bible irritate me but the red lettering, here, is very well done. My major test for a Bible is how well I can read it in church. To my surprise, I did not have any problems with reading during the Sunday service.

As A Carry Bible

The size of this particular Bible makes it very easily portable. It easily fits into both my laptop bag and my wife’s purse, so much so that she has decided that it should be hers.

Overall Impression

It’s no secret that I like Holman Bibles and it’s no secret that I enjoy the CSB. Overall, I really like the Ultrathin Reference Bible. I commend it to you for your benefit and for your ministry.