I am a fan of the HCSB. It is definitely a top three translation in my studies, reading, and preaching. I have revealed my complaints about the HCSB and my hopes for the upcoming revision here. But I am increasingly concerned about the direction of the new changes that are going to be released in the revised HCSB in the coming months. Particularly, I am concerned about the increased usage of Yahweh over LORD. For those who want a translation to be as literal as possible, this change will be considered a positive move. I am also one who general prefers formal translation over functional translation. But a serious problem arises when comprehension is sacrificed for formal equivalency. Here are my concerns with the HCSB’s increased usage of Yahweh.
1. Less accessible to average readers. One of the values of the HCSB is its readability. It is accurate, fairly literal, but easy to read. There are many places, like Philippians 2:6, where the HCSB goes with the meaning of the text rather than a literal translation of the words. I repeatedly praise the HCSB for its translation choice in Philippians 2:6. Go with an understandable, yet accurate translation. Many in the congregation where I work like the HCSB because of these features. Increasing the use of Yahweh decreases readability. While those highly knowledge in the scriptures will understand who is being referred to when reading the term Yahweh, I think the majority of people will not understand this term.
2. Increased confusion. “But Jehoshaphat said, ‘Isn’t there a prophet of the LORD here? Let’s inquire of Yahweh through him’” (2 Kings 3:11). Does this passage make more sense than just staying with a consistent use of LORD? I don’t see how this is an improvement in translation.
3. Lack of acceptance. I do not foresee people getting on board with this change. I don’t think people are going to stop using LORD for the name of God and start using Yahweh instead.
4. Not functional. I know the common, un-churched, non-religious person has no idea who Yahweh is and who you are talking about if you said, “Yahweh.” Not only is using Yahweh less readable, but I believe it will cause an additional hindrance when trying to teach people. Rather than know that the LORD is the subject, an explanation will need to be given to unbelievers about the name Yahweh in any sermon or class that has this rendering. This is not a fruitful use of one’s time when trying to teach and preach.
What do you all think about the HCSB increasing the use of Yahweh? While I believe an argument can be made that it is more literal or accurate, it is certainly not helpful. I believe it causes more problems than it solves and causes the scriptures to be less accessible to the lost. There must be moderation between literal translation and comprehension. Otherwise we would all use interlinear Bibles. But anyone who has used one knows that an interlinear does not lead to ease in understanding or comprehension. I think the HCSB is going the wrong way with this change. We don’t need to be using words that make the scriptures harder to understand when translating to the English language.