Christian Non-Fiction

Life Application Study Bible HCSB #Review

In less than a month I will embark on my very first short-term overseas mission trip. What better way to prepare for a mission trip than by marinating in the Word?! As a member of the Family Christian Blogger Program I obtained this copy of the Life Application Study Bible HCSB for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



Experience for the first time the Life Application Study Bible in the best optimal equivalence translation available today, the Holman Christian Standard Bible. This edition features thumb indexing.

The Life Application Study Bible is today’s #1–selling study Bible. The notes not only explain difficult passages and give information on Bible life and times but also go a step further to show you how to “take it personally,” speaking to every situation and circumstance of your life! This is the one Bible resource that incorporates today’s top scholarship in answering your real-life questions. It includes nearly 10,000 Life Application notes and features designed to help readers apply God’s truth to everyday life.

Why I chose this bible…

Growing up, our home had a very large copy of the Holy Bible ensconced in one of the lower shelves of an end table. That was its spot! It sat there week after week waiting for me to dust over, around, and sometimes under it. Big, beautiful, and unread. Sound familiar? According to the American Bible Society’s State of the Bible 2014, 88% of U.S. households own a Bible. Judging by the way we treat one another, I believe a large majority of those bibles go unread. I won’t pretend to know all of the reasons for this, but when I became a born-again believer my biggest obstacle to reading the Word was just that – readability.

In 2003, when I began my walk with Christ in earnest, I purchased a Life Application Study Bible (NIV84). Like a newborn baby, I craved pure spiritual milk (1 Peter 2:2), and I cut my spiritual teeth using my Life Application Study Bible. When verses, phrases, or situations were difficult for me to understand I found relevance and insight by referring to the study notes. When I wondered why a passage was included, what it meant for me, or the chronology of an event, the notes gave me clues to decipher their meaning and application. In the beginning, I relied on the notes heavily. With the help of the Holy Spirit, a good church, women’s bible studies, and the institution of a personal quiet time, the study notes became more of a reference. Nonetheless, the Bible became understandable and it’s truths accessible to me.

Twelve years later, my Life Application Study Bible is showing signs of all my love. I’ve underlined and circled verses, taken notes in the margins, and worn out the binding. Like a favorite stuffed animal, I cannot bring myself to part with it, but it is time to get a new working copy of the Word.

My Thoughts

I’m sticking to the Life Application Study Bible (LASB) for many reasons. First, is the clarity and thorough nature of the explanatory notes. Second is the overall layout, I like the single column format with the study references at the bottom of each page. They are easy to locate and do not require any flipping around. Given that I am a person who likes to jot notes in the margins, I can usually find space on the page to record a new insight or relevant teaching on a verse (for clarification, this is by no means a journaling bible). The third admirable trait is the synopsis found at the beginning of each book which includes the author of the book, the intended audience, setting, key players, and where the text fits into history. Whether I am reading through the Bible in my quiet time or as part of a Bible study, the Book Introductions set the scene for the events that follow. Finally, I must give mention of all the extras that are included in the LASB: charts and diagrams, cross-references, personality profiles of key Bible characters, maps (color maps at the back and numerous black and white maps throughout), and the sizeable dictionary/concordance. The Life Application Study Bible has a lot to offer and remains my favorite study bible.

Knowing that the Life Application Bible is available in multiple translations, I had to narrow my selection criteria. When deciding on a Bible translation, accuracy and readability top my list of admirable traits. I feel that the Holman Christian Standard Bible meets both of these desires. The Holman Christian Standard Bible is a completely new translation of the original Greek and Hebrew rather than a repackaging of an existing translation. The interdenominational team of translators, scholars, and editors speaks to its accuracy. Readers can find an extensive description of how the translation came into existence at the beginning of this bible. Historically bible translations have been described as either word-for-word (formal equivalence) or thought-for-thought (dynamic equivalence). Alternatively, HSCB employs a translation philosophy termed “optimal equivalence,” by which the translation seeks to balance the original intent with contemporary clarity. Having largely used the ESV and NIV84 translations in recent years, I am familiar with both of the above methodologies and I’ve found that the HCSB’s optimal equivalence rests comfortably in the middle. Through personal experience, I’ve found that the ESV works well for in-depth or word study driven Bible study. However, it sounds choppy when I’ve tried to read it aloud during our family devotions. HCSB walks the delicate line between literal translation and fluid readability, thereby making it a well-rounded translation for Bible study and personal reading.

I find that reading different translations keeps the Word fresh in my mind, and the HSCB translation definitely mixes things up! To begin, the HCSB translation capitalizes the pronouns that represent God. This was especially helpful when God is speaking judgment through his prophets and referring to Himself, the prophet, and the person(s) being judged all in the same chapter. Another nuance is the use of Yahweh for Lord in the Old Testament and Messiah for Christ in the New Testament. Furthermore, when the OT is quoted in the NT it appears in bold-faced text.

A few final notes about the edition that I’ve selected: as with the LASB which I had before, I selected a hardcover edition for the sake of durability. Just for fun, I opted for the edition that features thumb indexing which also has the words of Christ printed in red. On my postal scale, it weighs 3 lbs. 11.6 oz–if weight is something you are concerned about. The pages are thin, but bleed through has not been an issue. Additionally, the 8-point Bible text and 7-point notes text is comfortable to read (I do not believe a large print edition exists in this translation). As more bible studies utilize the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation, I believe the popularity of this Bible will grow. Already, it has been named an ECPA 2015 Christian Book Award Finalist!


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