|Laurence M. Vance, Ph.D.||Vance Publications|
The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), published by the Southern Baptists, is now complete. The Gospel of John was released first, in 1999. Then the entire New Testament was published in 2000. In 2002, an UltraTrim edition of the New Testament became available that included Psalms and Proverbs. With the recent addition of the Old Testament, the HCSB is now complete. Or is it?
When the UltraTrim edition of the New Testament was published, certain changes were made in the text of the New Testament. The changes were not drastic enough to warrant calling it the New HCSB, but there were some changes nevertheless. It is this revised New Testament that has been paired with the newly-prepared Old Testament.
The HCSB is not the only Bible to make subtle changes in its text. However, like the other Bibles that do so, the HCSB has no record of any of these changes in its Introduction. It seems as though the publisher does not want the public to know when it makes changes to the text of a Bible it publishes. If the publisher of any Bible that has had its text changed is contacted about changes, no specific passages are ever given in reply. In order to find out if any changes have been made, the different editions (and sometimes printings) of the Bible in question must be collatedóa very tedious process.
One way to tell if a new edition or printing of a modern version has changes in its text is to check the copyright date. If the publisher is honest, there will be several copyright dates corresponding to the different editions or printings that have changes. The HCSB has four copyright dates: 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, so at least the publisher is honestójust don= t write and ask for a list of changes.
Why, then, did the publishers of the HCSB make some changes to the text of the HCSB? For the answer we must go back to the turn of the last century. The Twentieth Century New Testament, one of the earliest translations into "modern English," was one of the first (if not the first) modern versions to shorten "only begotten" to just "only" (John 1:14, 18, 3:16, 18; Heb. 11:17; 1 John 4:9). This change was followed by the Weymouth New Testament (1903), the Moffatt New Testament (1913), and the Goodspeed New Testament (1923).
Because these versions were never very popular, it was not until the publication of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) New Testament in 1946 that the reading "only" was really noticed. The New Testament of the New American Standard Bible (NASB) of 1963, like the New Testament of its predecessor the American Standard Version (ASV) of 1901, did not follow this trend. However, the publication of the New International Version (NIV) New Testament in 1973 rekindled the debate since it replaced "only begotten" with "one and only." Recent modern versions, like the New Living Translation (1996) and the English Standard Version (2001) follow the RSV. The International Standard Version (1998) replaces "only begotten" with "unique" in all six passages. The New Evangelical Translation (1988) replaces "only begotten" with "only" in Hebrews 11:17 and "one-and-only" in the other five passages.
The HCSB originally read just "only" in John 1:14, 18, 3:16, 3:18; Hebrews 11:17; and 1 John 4:9. In the revised HCSB, every place but the passage in Hebrews has been changed to "one and only" with a footnote that reads "Or only begotten." Hebrews 11:17 is rendered "unique."
Trying to go half way between the Authorized Version and the typical modern translation is typical of the HCSB. As I pointed out in "The Southern Baptist Bible," the Introduction to the HCSB presents the translator= s philosophy. After mentioning the formal equivalence approach, and how "a literal rendering can often result in awkward English or in a misunderstanding of the original," and the dynamic equivalence approach, and how it too has its problems because a modern translator cannot "be certain of the idea in the original author= s mind," the Introduction informs us that the HCSB uses the optimal equivalence approach, "which seeks to combine the best features of both formal and dynamic equivalence by applying each method to translate the meaning of the original with optimal accuracy." The HCSB follows most modern versions when a portion of a verse is changed or omitted (Mat. 5:22, 19:9; Mark 1:2, 9:49; Luke 2:33, 4:4, 22:64; John 3:13, 8:59; Acts 18:21; Rom. 8:1, 14:10; 1 Cor. 10:28; 2 Cor. 4:10; Gal. 3:1; Eph. 3:14; Col. 1:14; 2 Thes. 2:2; 1 Tim. 1:1, 3:16; Tit. 1:14; Heb. 2:7; 1 Pet. 4:1; Rev. 8:13, 14:5, 22:14), but does not follow them when it comes to omitting an entire verse (Mat. 17:21, 18:11, 23:14; Mark 7:16, 9:44, 46, 11:26, 15:28; Luke 17:36, 23:17; John 5:4; Acts 8:37, 24:7, 28:29; Rom. 16:24).
A lot of ink has been spilled about the Greek wordmonogenhv" (monogenes), rendered "only begotten" in those places in the Authorized Version when it refers to Jesus Christ (or Isaac, a type of Christ). The fact that it is a compound word made up of movno" (monos), "only," and gevno" (genos), "kind, stock, nation," is irrelevant. The fact that gevno" is not from gennavw (gennao), "beget," is immaterial. Every use of the word monogenhv" in the New Testament describes a relationship between a parent and a child. Jesus Christ is not the only son of God or the one and only son of God (Gen. 6:2; Job 1:6; Luke 3:28; John 1:12). The translation of monogenhv" as "only begotten" differentiates Jesus Christ from a human only child (Luke 7:12, 8:42, 9:38) and augments the relationship he has with God the Father (Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5, 6, 5:5; 1 John 5:1; Rev. 1:5).
What will be the next thing changed in the HCSB? Don= t look for the publisher to advertise any changes that it makes in the text. It might hinder those who continually refer to the changes in the editions of the Authorized Version.