Last week, reader Deacon Dave sent me a link to the new Ancient Faith Study Bible from Holman Bibles — the publisher of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation. I quickly ordered a copy. The description promised study notes and commentary from the early church fathers, a sewn binding, biographies of 25 of the most prominent early fathers, and “Twisted Truth” insets “describing where some ancient thinkers drifted from orthodoxy.”
This bible is available in hardcover, as well as tan or crimson imitation leather-wrapped hardcover. It is currently sold exclusively through Lifeway, but I suspect it will eventually be sold through Amazon, Christianbook, and other retailers.
I was fascinated to see how a protestant publisher would handle these writings. I also have very little experience with the CSB translation. A few years ago, it was known as the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), but the publisher’s name was dropped in recent years. According to the official website for the translation, the translators completed a revision of the translation at the same time that the name was changed. The revision included a number of systematic changes which are detailed on this page. Interestingly, the old HCSB used “Yahweh” for God’s name in the Old Testament, and the revisers decided to change this to “LORD” in line with most other English bibles.
Similar to many English translations, the translators refer to their guiding principle as “Optimal Equivalence,” which is summarized in the following two principles: (1) to leave no aspect of the original language text unaccounted for in translation, and (2) to render the text using natural English that is as easily comprehended as possible. The translators included scholars from multiple denominations, but the publisher emphasizes their commitment to scriptural inerrancy: “the conservative, evangelical scholars of the CSB affirm the authority of Scripture as the inerrant Word of God and seek the highest level of faithfulness to the original and accuracy in their translation.”
The translation seems most popular in Baptist circles, but the publisher does not state any official denominational commitment. Unfortunately for Catholics, the CSB does not include the deuterocanonical books.
With the background out of the way, I received my copy of the Ancient Faith Study Bible in the mail yesterday. I purchased the crimson imitation leather-wrapped hardcover edition. Overall, the bible’s construction is well-done. The imitation leather is similar to the “alpha cowhide” on Ascension Press’ Great Adventure Catholic Bible and the imitation leather cover of Fr. Nicholas King’s translation. All of these bibles have a nice tactile feel. Time will tell how durable they are.
The bible comes in a protective box. The front of the box is pictured at the top of this post. Here is a photo of the back, with some additional description of the bible’s features:
The page edges feature gold gilding which is medium quality. It doesn’t rise to the smoothness and durability of the gilding on Cambridge bibles, but it’s better than the spray-on gilding used on many cheap imitation leather editions.
This is a fairly large bible overall. Its size and weight remind me of the New Oxford Annotated Bible (NOAB). This is probably an edition that most readers will use as a desk reference, rather than a bible they carry on a regular basis.
On the inside, I was struck by the sheer quantity of commentary by the early church fathers. This is truly a complete study bible (minus the deuterocanonical books) with all the commentary written by the patristic writers. Take a look at this page from the Gospel of John:
The bible text size is 10.25, and the notes are size 8. The bible text is very readable. There is moderate ghosting from text on adjacent pages, but the text is line-matched to improve readability. The font has an old-style feel to it. I’m not a fan of retro-style fonts. I would have preferred a simple, neutral, modern font. The text is easy to read, though, and that’s the main thing that matters.
Here is one of the “Twisted Truth” insets from the Gospel of John:
This inset provides interesting background on one of the early heresies. So far, from cursory viewing, I have not seen anything objectionable from a Catholic perspective. On the contrary, the sheer volume of information and commentary from the church fathers is an amazing resource. Despite the lack of the deuterocanonical books, this bible could be a very worthwhile resource for Catholics. Over the next week, I’m going to work my way through the Gospel of John, reading all the commentary as I go. Stay tuned for further information!