I’ve decided on the HCSB Illustrated (if anyone cares)

I decided that the HCSB Illustrated Study Bible is going to be my main Bible. (See a previous post on this.) It’s not as much of a study Bible as most study Bibles. There are photographs and illustrations (obviously) and there are some inserts here and there, some of which are actually quite helpful, but the inserts are pretty sparse. There isn’t any commentary other than the usual footnotes.

Other than the translation I like it because it’s:

  • hardcover
  • single column text
  • perfect font size

I used the NIV for about 20 years and then the NRSV for about three. I did a comparison of longer passages I have memorized just to make sure and I definitely like how the HCSB reads compared to the NRSV. There isn’t a whole lot of difference other than less archaisms in the HCSB which makes it more comfortable for me to read. I also looked at the Mounce/Mounce Greek and English Interlinear for all these passages. Not that I know much of anything about Greek, but with the Mounce translation I can make out some things here and there.

As an example, I like how the HCSB translates ὅτι (hoti) as because in the beatitudes instead of for. It’s a minor example but it’s things like these that cause me to like it.

Matthew 5:3 HCSB
Blessed are the poor in spirit, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

I also like how they are willing to break from tradition and translate things in correct modern English:

John 3:16 HCSB
For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

The NLT is a very close second even though it’s quite different. I still use it a lot. NRSV is my third choice and TNIV fourth, but TNIV is first for the Psalms for some reason.

The only disadvantage to the HCSB Illustrated is it isn’t a Holy Bible like most others.

15 Responses to “I’ve decided on the HCSB Illustrated (if anyone cares)”

  1. 1 Jason

    I rather like the HCSB–it’s my preaching translation. Like you, I enjoy the NLT. I used to preach from the NIV, but I can’t remember the last time I did. Reading it now, I don’t like it as much as I used to.

  2. 2 brian

    Well, I think it is good for you to settle on a translation, one that you are comfortable with and most importantly, one that you’ll read.   I appreciate that you don’t go out of your way to diss another translation for this one but simple state the reasons for your preference. 

  3. 3 Ask Mr. Religion

    I have read that Holman will be publishing an actual HCSB Study Bible sometime later this year. A good choice!

  4. 4 Gary Zimmerli

    I don’t know much about the HCSB Illustrated, Jeff, but the HCSB itself is certainly a fine translation. I have one that I used to use frequently, and when I refer to it occasionally now, I always find its rendering of a passage to be refreshing.

  5. 5 Iris

    Good for you. Nice translation. I use it off and on. Presently working with mainly the TNIV and finding it delightful.

  6. 6 Fr. Robert

    Interesting choice, so you don’t like or use the ESV?  This is not a deviceful question. Just wondered about your thoughts here, since you left this translation out.  I like your American translation, Updated New American Standard Bible, 1999. And I am an Irishman who lives in England. (I am at present in the US, S. Cal.).  But I use many also, and do like the ESV myself. But this is just me, etc.
    Fr. Robert (Anglican)

  7. 7 Fr. Robert

    PS…Just a note, I have the full list of the ESV traslators. Even has a few Irish mates, from The Queen’s University of Belfast, and also Union Theological College Belfast. And a many more from the UK.  Like FF Bruce I went to the University of Manchester, England. Myself later to Cambridge.  Many good people on the translation team (ESV)!  Just making the point is all.
    Fr. R.

  8. 8 Joel

    Jeff, It’s important to to enjoy your translation, I reckon. I have never used the HCSB, so I’ll take your word for it.

  9. 9 Scripture Zealot

    Jason, I wonder why it is that we don’t like the NIV as much as we used to? Maybe we’ve found something better for us. Maybe we got tired of it. I don’t know. It’s a fine translation.

    brian thanks for the appreciation. I decided a while ago to try to stay positive as much as I can.

    Iris, what did you use before the TNIV? I like the improvements they made.

    Robert, I don’t care much for the ESV because of the archaic language (some find this more proper language for the Bible), more than the NRSV which I switched from, and the sometimes strange word order. It’s more difficult for me to read and understand. I’ve looked into it extensively. I like to use the NASB (update was in ’95) for sentence diagramming. Have you seen the scholars on the committee for the NLT? Moo and Schreiner for some of the NT. Very nice.

    Joel, if you’re interested I have a page on the HCSB:

    HCSB Bible Translation Web Sites

    If not that’s OK. Hard to go wrong with KJV, ESV and NLT.


  10. 10 Scripture Zealot

    Ask Mr. Religion, I wonder what they’re study Bible will be like. I like having the NLTSB and ESVSB.

    I saw some of the revisions they will be making and decided it wasn’t worth it to wait for the new one. Very few and very minor changes.


  11. 11 halfdeaf

    It truly is a Blessing when someone finds a Translation Their comfy with, for myself, the HCSB Apologetics SB is what i’m comfy with. I also like the absence of archaic language as the HCSB gets to the real meat of Scripture an not much added fluff.
    Thanks for taking the time to put together your HCSB Bible Translation Web Sites  page, well done.


  12. 12 Scripture Zealot

    You’re welcome M. Thanks.


  13. 13 Nathan Stitt

    Very interesting. I recall not liking this particular study bible in the store, though I like the HCSB well enough. I am interested in reading about how you like your decision to stick to this bible in particular.
    Personally, I really like the NLT study bible and am going to try reading from it for a while exclusively to get a better feel for it. I think both of these translations are great.

  14. 14 Scripture Zealot

    Nathan I think it will be a while before I know how well I liked my decision. I’ll be going through Matthew through Acts in the HCSB along with commentaries writing notes in it. Then next year I plan on reading through the whole OT using the NLT 24/7 Bible. Then after that I’ll probably read through the whole NT in the HCSB. Then back to at least parts of the OT in the HCSB.

    The only thing I don’t like about this HCSB is sometimes they insert a picture just to have a picture there. They have a picture of a sunset over the Sea of Galilee but there’s nothing distinctive about it. It could be any body of water.

    The book intros are OK but nothing like the NLT or ESV study Bibles but then that’s not how I’m using this Bible. I consider it a pew Bible with some graphics. I just like this one for the three points in my post.

  15. 15 Robert Jimenez

    Jeff, I like the HCSB and have various editions of it.  But this year I did switch over to the TNIV as my primary reading, study, and teaching/preaching bible.  They are similar in my opinion, but I do prefer the TNIV.  I have some issues with the HCSB, but overall it is a great translation, much better than the ESV IMHO.
    HCSB does come in a single column bible called the Ministers Bible (I also own this one).  Very nice, great font size makes it easy to read (in general most HCSB have the best font sizes), no read lettering.  It comes in Genuine leather.  They were offering for a short while a limited edition in fine leather (calfskin???).  This one meets 2 of your points, but I don’t think it comes in a hard cover.

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