The Bookshelf: The CSB Reader’s Bible

So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ. (Romans 10:17)

Our faith grows as we read and study Scriptures but a recent study shows that only 37 percent of Americans read the Bible once a week or more.

How can we grow that number?

No one translation or edition of the Bible will capture the attention of a public that appears to be at least somewhat resistant to reading the Scripture, but the CSB Readers Bible offers an engaging format that puts a quality translation onto a reader-friendly page.

Chapter markings, verses and text headers have been eliminated from this edition as have footnotes, study guides, photos, devotions, and all of those other “helps” that have crept into a myriad of other editions of the Bible. As a result, any given page looks like the page of any book with single-column, left-justified print that focuses reader attention where it should be – on the words of the Scriptures.

I had never thought the headings, chapters and verse numbers made a difference in how I read the Bible. I learned differently when I settled in to read the book of Ruth. Without the visual cues to which I have been accustomed, I read the book’s four chapters much faster than I ever had before. It never occurred to me that all the “page furniture” could be a distraction – but it clearly was.

The CSB Reader’s Bible doesn’t leave the reader totally without guidance, however. Chapter beginnings are subtly marked with a blue capital letter, as can be seen on the photo on this page. Quotations from the Old Testament are also presented in bold, which is helpful for identifying those occasions in which the gospel writers referred to the prophets.

That’s where the purpose of this edition of the Bible runs up against its usefulness for deep study. Without a footnote, the reader has to consult other sources to find out what Old Testament texts those bold-faced quotations come from. It’s also hard to use this edition in a small group setting due to the lack of verse numbers.

But, that’s OK. That’s not the purpose of this particular edition. This edition is meant to connect the reader directly with God’s word, allowing an immersive experience without the clutter. And that’s just what it does.

If you get distracted while reading, or find yourself bogged down in a plan to read through the Bible, consider the CSB Reader’s Bible. I know that, for me, this will not be an edition of the Bible that just sits on the shelf to collect dust. It will be the go-to version when I want to read a few pages before bed or the entirety of one of Paul’s letters during breakfast.

Additional thoughts

Why chose the CSB version? The translation philosophy for the team that created the CSB version strove to balances literal translation with readability in the English that we speak today. As a result, the translators use literal translation when the word-for-word translation is understandable, and a more dynamic – or thought for thought – translation for other areas. The result is a translation that is both understandable and accurate to the original texts.

When did verses get added to the Bible anyway? The chapters we use today were first added to the Scriptures in the 12th century by Stephen Langton though some form of chapter divisions can be found in manuscripts dating to the fourth century. Verse divisions were added by Robert Estienne in 1551.

 

Disclaimer: B&H Publishing provided me with a free copy of the CSB Reader’s Bible in exchange for my unbiased review.

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