To celebrate 5 years of the CSB, we interviewed a couple people who have played key roles in both the early days and ongoing efforts behind the translation.
This first conversation is with Trevin Wax, former Director for Bibles and References at Lifeway, to go back to the early days of the CSB and hear more about the vision behind the translation.
Trevin, can you share what your role was in the creation of the CSB?
When the CSB launched in March of 2017, I was the director for Bibles and Reference at Lifeway. So I had a seat on the translation committee.
Most of my work on the CSB was finalizing the text. I stepped into the Bible publisher role at Lifeway in August of 2016, a good eight months out from launching the new translation. My primary role during that season was to oversee the team that launched the CSB.
So the CSB was already on its way to being published before you came aboard, but you helped get it launched. Why do you think it was important to get the CSB out there?
There is a spectrum of Bible translations—formal translations, more literal word-for-word; and then there are dynamic translations, which are more focused on thought-for-thought.
Different translation philosophies have their place. I think it’s good for pastors and leaders to consult multiple translations while they’re doing Bible study. So in anything I say about translation philosophy, it’s not as if you have to always pick either/or.
But what excited me about CSB even from its earliest days was that it was positioned to be a primary translation, the one to just have on hand that will do multiple things well. And that’s because of the translation philosophy—that pursuit of optimal equivalence—where you’re seeking to find an optimal blend between readability and accuracy that brings out the best of the text itself. I thought, this is a translation for the church. It’s not just for the church leader and their study; it’s not just the Bible that you’re handing out at an outreach kind of setting where a little bit more leeway is given when it comes to interpretation in the name of accessibility; it’s doing both of those things—accuracy and accessibility—really well. That makes for a great primary translation.
Could you share a story that illustrates what you mean by that?
I remember one pastor in particular was moved almost to tears telling me how, as he was reading the Scriptures with his eight or nine-year-old son, and his son was following along better than he’d ever followed along before. Considering some other translations that he’d used, the pastor felt like he didn’t have to paraphrase.
And I’ve heard from a lot of church leaders who appreciate the position that the CSB takes when it comes to language around gender. The translation doesn’t turn singulars to plurals, which some other translations have done in order to avoid translating gendered words like the generic “he/him.” At the same time, the CSB also includes–in places where it’s clear that Paul is writing to the whole church–”brothers and sisters” to show that the whole church is being addressed. And so translating “brothers and sisters” has been well received from a number of church leaders. It’s beautiful to see the text making explicit Paul’s reference to the whole body of Christ.
I think that’s been one of the beautiful things—to hear people talk about their experience with this translation bringing God’s Word home to them in fresh and compelling ways.
If someone reading this hasn’t tried the CSB, what would you say to encourage them to try it out?
I’d encourage people to use this translation because it does multiple things well. It’s readable and accurate at the same time, which is wonderful. So it’s good for Bible study and for Bible reading in general.
But also, the CSB team has put out beautifully designed Bibles. So you can access it anywhere you need to digitally, online. But for the reading experience itself, the CSB team has really taken beauty seriously and crafted texts that stand out. I think it says a lot about the care and the intentionality around this translation that the team appreciates.
What would you say your favorite edition is?
Well, I’m probably partial to the Reader’s Bible because I had a little hand in designing that one; I’ve loved that Bible over the years. But I have several favorites. I think the Ancient Faith Study Bible is just absolutely tremendous. Not only because of the study notes, but the beauty of that design is just stunning to me. So if I had to pick one that I would say is a combination of both jaw-dropping beauty and additional riches brought to us from the Church fathers, The Ancient Faith Study Bible would have to be near the top.
And there’s the Holy Land Illustrated Bible, as well. That one is absolutely stunning. And one of the things we wanted with that one was for people to open the Bible to almost any page and find beautiful photos and imagery. The team really succeeded at that.
Stay tuned for part 2 as we interview Andy McLean, Lifeway Director for Bibles and Reference.