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Christian Standard Bible (CSB) Surges to Second Place in Popularity Among Bible Translations

One of the newest major Bible translations on the market, the Christian Standard Bible (CSB), has been making significant strides in popularity, securing its place among the most sought-after translations. 

According to data compiled by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA), the CSB has emerged as the second most-sold Bible translation for three out of the past four months, trailing only behind the New International Version (NIV) and surpassing the English Standard Version (ESV).

The CSB, introduced in 2017 by Lifeway’s B&H Publishing Group as a revision of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), was designed with the intention of striking a balance between readability and biblical accuracy, adopting a translation philosophy known as “optimal equivalence.”

Mark Ward, senior editor at Logos’s Word by Word blog and a prominent Bible YouTuber, expressed, “The CSB has that undefinable sense of buzz. The consensus seems to be that it managed to nail the balance of English readability and word-for-word accuracy that American Christians are looking for.”

In recent times, numerous churches have embraced the CSB, with some even purchasing Bibles in bulk for their pews. The release of notable editions such as the Tony Evans Study Bible and an award-winning children’s Bible has further bolstered its popularity. As a result, the CSB has rapidly risen through the ranks, climbing from fifth or sixth place on the monthly bestseller lists in previous years to the second spot in May, June, and August of 2023.

Within the first five years of its release, the CSB secured 10 percent of the market share, and its influence has now expanded to approximately 13 percent, according to Andy McLean, the publisher for Bibles and reference at B&H, which has affiliations with the Southern Baptist Convention.

The CSB has resonated with a diverse range of denominations, extending beyond Southern Baptist circles, and has gained popularity among Anglican, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, and Foursquare communities. This expansion in sales has surprised some experts, as breaking into a saturated Bible translation market is challenging. Peter Gurry, the director of the Text & Canon Institute at Phoenix Seminary, noted that the CSB’s appeal to a broader evangelical audience has contributed to its success.

One significant factor that sets the CSB apart is its approach to gender inclusivity. Unlike translations like ESV and NASB, which have been criticized for their inconsistent use of gendered language, the CSB opts for gender-accurate terms when the original context doesn’t exclude females. This approach, along with its balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought translation, has resonated well with readers seeking a translation that’s both faithful to the original text and relevant to contemporary understanding.

The CSB’s frequent updates and the presence of a committee of ten Bible scholars overseeing necessary changes have contributed to its continued relevance and popularity. The translation’s adaptability to various denominational preferences and its readability have been key factors in its success.

The CSB’s rise to the second spot on the ECPA bestseller list for August 2023 was celebrated by the evangelical community, with scholars, church leaders, and individuals expressing their enthusiasm for this translation. 

The CSB’s journey from its introduction in 2017 to becoming a significant player in the Bible translation landscape is a testament to its balanced approach and its ability to resonate with a diverse audience seeking a faithful yet accessible translation of the Scriptures.

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