CSB News & Information

The CSB Translation Philosophy: Optimal Equivalence

The Christian Standard Bible employs a translation philosophy known as Optimal Equivalence, which seeks to achieve an optimal balance of linguistic precision reflecting the original languages with readability in contemporary English.

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 text are conveyed as accurately as possible.

Below, is a chart indicating see where each Bible translation falls on the formal word-for-word to dynamic thought-for-thought continuum. The CSB falls in the middle, striking an optimal balance.

Bible translations shown in the top half of the chart are original translations directly from ancient languages to English. Versions shown below the line began with the English text of another Bible translation.

On one hand, the Christian Standard Bible provides a highly accurate text for faithful, serious study, translated straight from the biblical languages by scholars who love God’s Word. It is highly faithful to the original text. On the other hand, it does not compromise readability and clarity for those who may be less familiar with the traditional (and sometimes difficult) vocabulary retained in some translations of the Bible.

A quantitative linguistic comparison of Bible translations using computerized statistical analysis, developed in 2016 by Global Bible Initiative researched all the current Bible translation in English. Their in-depth study concluded that the CSB is both highly literal to the original languages and highly readable, achieving an optimal balance of the two. Below is the result of their research.


Beyond that, we know that God’s Word is meant to be shared. A translation that hits the sweet spot between literal and readable opens the door for every believer to share the Bible with someone who has read it for a lifetime, or with someone who has never read its life-changing message.