When I say I like the NASB, somebody says, “Have you looked at the HCSB?”

When I say I’m impressed by something in the NLTse, somebody will say, “Have you checked out the Holman CSB?”

When I start talking about how much I’m looking forward to the new TNIV reference Bible, I get, “Take a look at the Holman Christian Standard Bible.”

And I say, “Yeah, I’ve looked at it.” They ask, “What are your impressions of it?” I say, “Well, it looks to me like they took an NIV and changed a few words here and there in order to make their own version.”

For a long time I have pretty much dismissed the HCSB, not because I saw it as a “Baptist” Bible, but because I didn’t think it was impressive enough to end up as much more than a blip on the translation radar screen of history. I figured in a few years it would be forgotten by most scholars and teachers.

But when I got the latest “Try it, you’ll like it” a few days ago, I decided this time I’m going to take a truly serious look at this Bible with the funny letters in it’s name. (HCSB? Where’s the “N” at the beginning? HCSB? Isn’t that a Christian radio station down in Ecuador?)

Try it, you’ll like it!

So I tried it…seriously. And you know what? I was wrong.

The HCSB is an excellent Bible! It’s not perfect, (I have to say that, otherwise somebody else will.) but I can honestly say that I now think the HCSB is truly a “Christian Standard Bible”. It is the first Bible I have seen that I think could be the next KJV. And that means I think it’s a better Bible for most people than the NASB, the ESV, the TNIV, the NLTse, and anything else I’ve seen out there.

A short while ago I got some advice from my younger brother Mike (and I really appreciate having a little brother who can give me such wise advice!) I was writing my aborted series on Bibles for Third Graders, and in his comments on the second post of the series, Mike said this:

“Regardless of which version you choose, I would hope you are able to actually hold one in your hands and look through it before making your decision.”

Now that doesn’t really sound like much, does it? I didn’t think much of it at the time, but the idea stuck in my head. Well, this past Saturday when we happened to be at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore, I picked up an HCSB, hand size, large print, and decided to buy it and get used to reading it, remembering what Mike told me.

I fell in love. And it’s only an imitation leather cover! But Mike is right, when you can actually hold the Bible in your hands and look through it, when you can open anywhere you wish and see how things are worded; when you can see how the text notes and cross reference system is laid out; and read the introduction and the explanation of the way their system is intended to be used, it makes a tremendous difference!

If I had bought a genuine leather cover with real gold page edges, I could almost dismiss this feeling as a great appreciation for those features. Who doesn’t love the feel of real leather? But no, I didn’t want to spend that kind of money on a Bible I wasn’t sure I was going to use much, so I bought the imitation leather cover with what appears to be bronze edges. It’s not the prettiest, not does it feel heavenly in my hands, but when I open it up it’s certainly heavenly in my mind and heart!

Hmm. I didn’t think I was going to write this much this time about the HCSB. I guess it just shows my enthusiasm about this Bible. Well, let me use it for a while, and we’ll see what I think of it in a few months. But right now, I have to agree with my friend Rick Mansfield and say that in my opinion, the HSCB is my pick for number one on my “Ten Best” Bible translation list…for what it’s worth.