Bible Translations

January 29, 2015 - 12:27 PM

Hello River Family!

People always ask me, “What translation of the Bible do you use?”

I do have a strong preference, so I thought that this would be a great opportunity to explain why I have chosen the HCSB, The Holman Christian Standard Bible.

As a pastor and student, my personal Bible has to serve several purposes, but the two most important are readability and accuracy. This is where, in my opinion, the HCSB stands alone.

I want a translation that is both written in the modern vernacular, while refusing to compromise the literal interpretation of God's word from the original language. It is also important to me that the text pulls from the oldest manuscripts, rather than the newest (this is a problem with the KJV, which draws from the most recent manuscripts rather than the most ancient of texts). 

The HCSB translators call this “Optimal Equivalence.”

The website reads,

“The HCSB employs a translation philosophy known as Optimal Equivalence, which seeks to achieve an optimal balance of linguistic precision with contemporary clarity. In the many places throughout Scripture where a word-for-word rendering is clearly understandable, a literal translation is used. In places where a word-for-word rendering might obscure the meaning for a modern audience, a more dynamic translation is favored. This process assures that both the words and thoughts contained in the original are conveyed as accurately as possible.“

With this standard of excellence comes an uncompromising decision to maintain the gender distinctions, translate the literal name of God (Yahweh), not to mention a conscious decision to consider the thoughts of scholars across denominations and throughout history. This is just a few examples of why the HCSB stands out as a great translation.

As many of you know, I have a BA in Philosophy, an MA in the Philosophy of Religion, and am currently pursuing my doctoral work; I need a translation of scripture that demands the respect of scholars, while simultaneously maintaining a clear declaration of God's word for the rest of us. The HCSB offers me both. Of course, I often reference the original Koine Greek, but I always do so alongside the HCSB's English translation.

Of course, I will admit that it is not perfect, no English translation ever really can be, but if you are looking for a new bible I would highly recommend the HCSB as the best on the market.

To be more specific, I would recommend the HCSB Apologetics Bible.

It is the HCSB translation with over 130 extra articles, maps, and a plethora of commentary. Because it is an apologetics bible, it attempts to answer many of the hardest biblical questions, not to mention it frequently references examples of how cults misuse different sections of scripture within the very same text.

There are references to the problem of evil, homosexuality, Mormons, Islam, and even the Jehovah's Witnesses. It also has commentary from varying authors throughout Christian history ranging from Justin Martyr (1st century) to CS Lewis (author of the Chronicles of Narnia). I can't recommend this enough for those who seriously want to study the Scriptures.

This Bible can be purchased at any Christian bookstore (around $40) or online through multiple websites including Barnes and Noble ($27.30) and Amazon ($26.60).


Feel free to check it out on your own at

But you don't have to take my word for it...


The Holman Christian Standard Bible delivers what it promises: a clear, faithful translation of God's Word. I trust it because it is true to the original languages of the Bible, without compromise. But there's more: I can preach it because it is clear and understandable—to those in the church and to those we have yet to win for Christ.”

Senior Pastor, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Founder and President of The Urban Alternative


I would recommend the Holman Christian Standard Bible to new believers and seasoned scholars alike. The translation is easy to read and thoroughly researched.”

Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church Atlanta, and Founder, In Touch Ministries

God bless and happy studying!

Joshua Tilley