Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The HCSB - Hurdles to Dominance

In a previous post, I waxed lyrical about the glories of the Holman Christian Standard Bible and affirmed it's quality to the extent that it should be the successor to the much loved NIV. There are signs that this could be the case. For instance, the HCSB was second on the CBA Best Selling List in February for dollar sales in the US. Nevertheless, I also expressed doubts as to whether the HCSB would ever achieve this global type of dominance. Why?

First is the fact that the HCSB is not yet truly an 'international' version in the same way that the NIV is. There are not yet any editions with anglicised text. If the HCSB is to be taken seriously by Brits and Aussies as well as Americans, the publishers need to get serious about producing top quality British texts. Look at the plethora of British NIVs or even ESVs and you will see my point.

Second, the HCSB has a kind of a 'fundy' feel about it. What do I mean? Well, for instance, pronouns relating to deity are all upper case. I know that this is intended to inject a certain reverence into the text, but it just leaves one with the unnecessary impression that this bible translation is a bit..well...fundy-ish. It may seem like a minor point, but if the text just came in a classy san-serif font with lower case pronouns, I'd take it a lot more seriously.

The fundy feel continues with the plethora of red-letter text editions. Why publishers feel the need to wrongly divide the word of truth in this way is beyond me. Are Jesus words more inspired than the Holy Spirit inspired narratives of the OT? The HCSB publishers have to get a grip on this one.

Fundy suspicion is exacerbated when one notes the cheap and nasty looking binding and boxes this excellent translation is marketed in. But it's when one comes to the endorsements that fundy-itis climaxes. On the ESV website, they have R.C Sproul and Ed Clowney endorsing their translation. On the HCSB website they have Pat Robertson among others. AAAAAAAH.

The HCSB needs serious rebranding, marketing and a classier feel. There are a variety of things that could be done, and thankfully, HCSB customer services are very attentive and respectful of customer feedback. What is the way ahead for the HCSB? That is for another post.

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