My dad has always been instrumental in my life but when I professed faith in Christ, my dad bought me a bible, had my name put on it, sat me down and explained the wonder and use of this book.
Since then, there are 3 things that I have come to love.
1) Daily reading
2) Bibles, the choices of formats and styles or tools (I nerd out on the world of Bibles.)
3) Giving Bibles away
The effect it had on me was not only supernatural but very practical in the way that I wanted to reciprocate this to ensure others had a good Bible of their own for their growth in Christ.
My dad-Larry Mac and Pastor Scott Poynor drilled the mighty practice of a daily devotional consisting of prayer and God’s word.
The NASB Study Bible that was given to me was a huge help for me as a new believer to get familiar with scripture and application.
But why am I switching to the Christian Standard Bible translation?
First, let’s go through my journey with translations:
As mentioned, my first Bible was an NASB Study Bible. “NASB” is the New American Standard Bible.
I was taught to underline, date, highlight, and make my own notes in this bible and I did so until the cover literally started coming off, so I retired it.
A couple years into my faith, I would begin teaching youth, and I noticed that some of the word choices and sentence structure was not as easy to comprehend as what other translations provided.
I asked my newlywed wife for a new bible and that Christmas she purchased me an NIV Thinline reference bible. That is the New International Version.
This particular Bible did not have the study notes as my previous Bible provided but was much smaller and easier to carry around.
The main benefit of the NIV, of course, is it is an easy-to-read translation and this was helpful when reading scripture to my 6th-grade students.
When my Grandfather-in-law, “Grandpa Sam”, bought my wife a new bible a couple of years later, I wanted to compare my NIV to this translation that was new to me and so began my journey with the ESV (English Standard Version) translation.
I was enamored with this translation because it had the precision of the NASB but with more of a contemporary feel to it.
With the previous translations, I felt I could trust my NASB Study Bible for study and lesson preparation and I would use the NIV for morning devotions and quick references. I soon found myself preferring this English Standard Version over almost all other translations for preaching, teaching, and devotions.
Plus, a lot of my friends and pastors that I listened to and read were using this translation. The ESV became so popular that it soon had a new “ESV Only” tribe feel to it as opposed to the “KJV Only” tribe, though I didn’t mind.
I never considered changing from the ESV. Until, believe it or not, a complete stranger on Twitter challenged me to use a monster of a bible. Seriously, when Amazon delivered it and my wife picked the box up, she gave me the “Pete? Seriously?”
It is the Interlinear Bible and if you aren’t familiar with it, this is what the Interlinear Bible’s verses look like:
The problem is is that it is just not practical to carry around. Great for the office but horrible for the pew.
What I desired in a Bible translation was what the Interlinear provided in faithful accuracy but with contextualization.
I enjoyed the ESV for its keeping a touch of King James flowery language but I fell out of love with it because it just isn’t how I would arrange a sentence. I found additional words that did not seem necessary and just cluttered sentences.
Accuracy is huge, but there is also an aspect of Bible translation that the bible’s new testament was written in common Greek, why then should we translate it into flowery English? It should be for the common reader, hence an emphasis on common language and readability.
Then the Christian Standard Bible was published.
I kept using the ESV for about a year after the CSB was published. First I downloaded a sample from the website. Then I downloaded the app to my phone. Soon I ordered a cheap copy to compare what I was reading in my devotion time.
My main hang-ups against the CSB were word choices that went against my preference. Particularly in John 15, I prefer the word “abide” where the CSB uses “remain” and in James 1:3 the word I like is “steadfastness”.
This isn’t purely from a translation preference. “Abide” and “steadfastness”, these words possess sentimental value for me. I have been in a dozen discipleship groups going through a curriculum called “Abiding in Christ”, it wasn’t called “Remain in Christ”.
When we were praying through one of the most difficult seasons of ministry, our prayer was for “steadfastness”. We didn’t use the use word “endurance”.
Eventually, the straw that broke the camel’s back for a switch to the CSB is that I do not use the style and structure of most Bible translations. The CSB is the most accurate translation that uses the flow of speech and sentence structure that I use.
The CSB has been a joy to read. It has much more of an effortless flow to it. It is just smooth.
That is why I have switched to the CSB. I finally dove in head first and bought a CSB Pastor’s Bible to preach out of. But do you know what I am asking my church to do? Nothing. I enjoy knowing that other people are reading other translations, as long as they are reading.
Some Final thoughts on translations:
1) Readability and accuracy should not be at odds with one another.
Getting words, terms, meanings, context, is crucial in translation and reading. However, If the translation is accurate but you are using it inaccurately it is still a fail. If you’re teaching or being taught out of a great translation but not in balanced gospel-centered ministry, this is a dangerous error.
Tim Keller has used the NIV and Todd Wagner uses the NASB. Both are pastors I respect, do great ministry, and use different translations.
2) Don’t demonize bible translations….especially the people that hold them.
What I mean is, when some see a different translation other than their choice, they scowl or giggle. This may be because of denominational, tradition, or school stigmas.
Hey Independent Fundies: Why does the KJV use the word unicorn?
Hey Angry Traditionalists: Does the NLT contain the word, predestined? Elect? Foreknew? Chosen? Say that the Holy Spirit draws?
Hey “Cage Stagers”: Can someone get saved when hearing the gospel preached from an NIV?
Obviously, I am characterizing, different “camps” and poking at their criticisms with exaggeration, but I have heard the critique of other translations and I find it unhelpful and divisive.
When we hold to that “the Bible” is the inerrant Word of God, that does not include man’s imperfections and limitations to our contemporary language. It is the principle that God gave us scripture, the breathed out Word of God, written by the Holy Spirit but penned by man and is sufficient for all things for salvation and godliness.
Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) is faith in the Holy Spirit’s teaching and ministry of the word and that the Bible is not only perfect but sufficient.
3) The best translation is the translation that you will read
Do you have verses memorized in NKJV and want to keep that? Awesome. Are you a young lady with an NIV women’s study bible, keep it up. Did you take one of the hardback bibles from a hotel room, keep it and read it.
4) See the charts/graphs below that were helpful in explaining the balance that the CSB strikes.
First is helpful to see differences in translation philosophies and how they compare.
Typically further on left is higher in accuracy but can be more difficult to read. Vice versa, those further on the right are more readable but can lack in accuracy.
The chart below combines the literal and readable percentages to show that CSB uses a hybrid philosophy of translation to obtain an “optimal blend”.
Both charts are from csbible.com
I may not carry hard copies of all these Bibles but because of my handly Ipad and software, I can switch back and forth between 3-5 translations or even have all up on screen at one time.
I will always use more than one translation during sermon prep and most preachers do this too. May there always be sharpening in the field of translation and handling God’s Word to strive for accuracy and Christlikeness.
Find “your” bible. Not just your preferred translation, but the feel and weight of it. Shop for font, columns, cover, notes, etc. and use it until it becomes an extension of your body.
Or if you have had your bible for so long that devotions have become dry, change translations if only to make the light switch come on.
Or if you’re looking for something smaller, there are wide varieties of “thinline” bibles that can easily fit in small backpacks, briefcases, purses, etc.