As an ecumenical Christian who loves the church in all its parts, I greatly appreciate fair-mindedness, thoroughness, and accuracy in the essays, commentaries and footnotes found in newer study editions such as the Holman Study Bible.
Available now in either the New King James Version (NKJV) or the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), both editions share many of the same fine features. For instance, both choices generously supply in-text photographs, timelines, and maps to help you better envision what’s happening in a particular time or place. Cross-references, introductions to each book, and informative footnotes also provide a balanced view of the scriptures.
The main differences between these editions of the Holman Study Bible include an extensive concordance in the back pages of the NKJV and a topical concordance of “bullet notes” in the HCSB. Also, the HCSB includes word studies in sidebars scattered throughout the text, showing, for instance, “charis” in Romans 5:2 as a Greek word meaning grace and defined as the “unmerited favorable disposition toward someone or something,” primarily as relates to salvation. The sidebar continues with such interesting information as the use of “charis” 155 times in the New Testament (NT.)
Another feature I like in the HCSB study edition occurs in the boldface type used to emphasize the quotations from the Hebrew Bible in the NT. However, the NKJV consistently has a darker, highly readable font so uses italics to emphasize those biblical quotes.
If you’re not familiar with either translation, you might compare some of your favorite verses and/or some hard-to-understand passages of scripture as I often do on BibleGateway.com.
To give you a brief recap here: Holman Bible Publishers worked with an interdenominational team of biblical scholars dedicated to precision in providing a mostly literal translation yet open to an “optimal equivalence” when a word-for-word rendering of the text might prove confusing. The resulting HCSB Study Bible, which won the 2011 ECPA Christian Book Award, gives students, teachers, pastors, and Bible lovers an accurate, readable, contemporary translation. With similar intent, the NKJV might be less contemporary in word choices but has a poetic flow similar to the original KJV.
Since both editions deserve high praise, I highly recommend you get whichever translation you don’t have or, if you’re fortunate enough to have both, whichever one you will be most apt to read. Either way, this hefty edition will add biblical heft to your study at home, at church, or in a Bible study group.
©2013 by Bible Reviewer, Mary Harwell Sayler
HCSB Study Bible, hardback
Holman Study Bible, NKJV edition