Where HCSB failed

A year ago I wrote an initial evaluation of the HCSB. Over this past year I have used the HCSB more and found it is generally very good. It is one of the final translations we are considering for the congregational use. One concern I had was the inconsistent use of Yahweh [LORD in most English translations] in the Old Testament of the 6,600+ occurrences of the divine name (יְהוָ֜ה) HCSB translates it about 484 times with “Yahweh,” where it specifically refers to the name. The other 5,925 times it is rendered “LORD.”

In the month of September we used HCSB as the Scripture texts for the bulletin. It went well, and the texts in the Narrative Lectionary (focusing on the Old Testament) were good. But then for November 11, 1012 the Old Testament reading is Jonah 1:1-17; 3:1-10; 4:1-11. As I was preparing the bulletins for November, I realized how the inconsistency of HCSB renders such a text, specifically 1:14-16.

14 So they called out to the LORD: “Please, Yahweh, don’t let us perish because of this man’s life, and don’t charge us with innocent blood! For You, Yahweh, have done just as You pleased.” 15 Then they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. 16 The men feared the LORD even more, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.

So for this text, would the reader/hearer recognize that LORD and Yahweh are identical? Not hardly. But then it leaves all the other renderings in the three chapters confusing, trying to relate it to this section. Interestingly I read the HCSB that was last updated in 2003 and in this passage, each instance used LORD, not Yahweh.

This makes me pause about using it for every text. HCSB has been reliable in so many readings. But this highlights the drawbacks of the inconsistency. The translators should either change entirely to Yahweh or adopt the common LORD of other translations. Either option would be far better than this.

(Note: I still think HCSB is an excellent translation, despite this quirk.)

Author: exegete77

disciple of Jesus Christ, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, and theologian

4 thoughts on “Where HCSB failed”

  1. I agree with your assessments. The HCSB IS an excellent translation. But I rarely use it any more because of its inconsistencies and…often strange…renderings.


  2. I totally agree. It’s always got me how the HCSB manages to make Psalm 46:7, 11 read differently; it totally ruins the structure of the psalm.


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