Why I’ve (Mostly) Switched to the CSB

by Jared C. Wilson October 10, 2022

First things first: Because I know some folks may wonder, this is not a sponsored post or a requested endorsement in any way. The good folks of the CSB have no idea I am writing this post, so there’s been no incentive from them for me to write it.

I’ve spent the last 15 years or so using the ESV translation as my primary Bible translation for personal study and preaching/writing, but I have gradually begun using the CSB more and more over the last few years and I’ve now come to the point of almost exclusive use of the CSB in my daily reading, my writing, and my preaching. I’m probably at about 90% CSB use at this point and make exceptions pretty much only when publishers require it or churches where I’m preaching have another translation as their primary text. Here are a few reasons why I’ve made the switch:

1. My church’s translation of choice is the CSB.

About 5 years ago, Liberty Baptist Church switched from the ESV to the CSB as our official translation of choice. We ordered all new pulpit Bibles and all of our preaching is from the CSB. So when I preach locally, of course I am following suit, but I also want to become more and more familiar with the translation most of our people are becoming more and more familiar with. Using the CSB has me looking at the same words my church is looking at.

2. The CSB is better for a wider range of hearers.

I have come to love the ESV and still very much love that translation. But after the last several years spent in both translations, I cannot deny the language and often the sentence structure of the ESV is more sophisticated and, frankly, sometimes a bit dense. For comparison: the ESV is translated at about a 10th grade reading level. The CSB is at 7th grade reading level. The CSB just uses plainer language. So writing and especially preaching from the CSB demands less heavy lifting from the audience in grasping the text. I still favor the ESV in a few instances — for example, I still prefer the ESV’s “behold” texts, where the CSB invariably opts for the (in my opinion) lesser “look” or “see” — but I prefer the CSB’s ease of access in “giving the meaning” (Neh. 8:8 — “giving the sense” in the ESV) of the text to a wider, multi-generational audience.

3. The CSB is refreshing my personal approach to the text.

Honestly, this would be true of a switch to any solid Bible translation. Most of the verses I’ve had memorized since childhood are in the translations of my upbringing — mostly the NASB, but sometimes NKJV. Coming to the ESV years ago and spending the better part of my adult years in it has also brought to my memory many texts in that translation. I still love them. But it’s been good for me to encounter even familiar texts in new language. It makes me, in a sense, see the texts with new eyes and encounter them in fresh ways. I still use the ESV for my first-thing-in-the-morning Bible reading, mainly because I read from my phone at that time, and I find the ESV app more pleasing and more easy to navigate than the CSB’s, but my deeper study and reading has been freshened up by a translation switch, which helps me avoid the temptation of assuming my grasp of any given text. Switching to the CSB has made my devotional study feel new again.

Your mileage may vary, of course, and obviously we have an embarrassment of riches in our translation choices compared to our ancestors and even our brethren in lesser-resourced parts of the world. It’s a blessing from God that despite all of the church’s problems today, we have access to numerous good translations of God’s word. These are just some of the reasons I’ve made the switch to the CSB.

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