The Berean Study Bible
Publisher: Bible Hub
Library of Congress Control Number: 2020916633
Copyright © 2016, 2020
The Berean Study Bible (BSB) is a recent translation of the whole Bible, first published in 2016 (2020 version reviewed) by the ministry behind the online Bible study site BibleHub.com. According to its dedicated website, the Berean Bible consists of four components or “translation tiers,” including the Study Version which is recommended for personal study, public reading, memorization, and evangelism.
The translation of the BSB was accomplished by a team of scholars associated with the Bible Hub ministry, and although the team was relatively small – it was composed of six scholars – this is not necessarily a bad thing, as the translation avoids many of the pitfalls associated with both single-person and large committee translation efforts.
The end result in this case is a version that is internally consistent and nicely positioned on the spectrum running from word-for-word to idea-for-idea translation. Reading the BSB often feels like a comfortable mid-ground between the fairly literal ESV and the somewhat more dynamic NIV. But that is a generalization, and there can be considerable variation in the treatment of words within individual verses. Comparing Acts 17:11 (the BSB’s signature verse) among these three versions provides an example of their respective styles while also showing the variation involved:
“Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” ( Acts 17:11 ESV).
“Now the Bereans were more noble-minded than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if these teachings were true” (Acts 17:11 BSB).
“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11 NIV).
Although there is not a great deal of difference among the three renditions, notice that the BSB is the only one of the three versions that does not say that the “Bereans” were “Berean Jews.” While the Bereans in question may have been Jewish, that is not what the text actually says, nonetheless. While the ESV is fairly literal in simply stating that the Bereans were more noble (the Greek primarily means of noble physical birth), the BSB and NIV add “-minded” or “character,” which is the intended sense in this case. And while the NIV adds “what Paul said,” the BSB, like the ESV, is more literal, as Paul is not specifically mentioned in the Greek text.
So the BSB quite effectively utilizes both “word for word” and “thought for thought” approaches – as appropriate – in the translation process. But the very slight lean toward literality in the version is sometimes helpful. The version maintains the original gender designations in Scripture and, as a result, does not compromise accuracy in some translational situations. The BSB is also quite conservative among recent translations in utilizing capitalization for pronouns referring to God and Christ, as with “He,” “Him,” etc. These details will probably only be noticeable to those who usually use the NIV or other similar translation in their study, but the BSB consistently reads smoothly and without any hint of antiquated English.
The electronic versions of the BSB incorporate links to each book of the Bible and to each chapter from the beginning of each book. There are also links from points in the text to the notes at the end of each chapter, and from the notes back to the text. The BSB's notes are helpful and well balanced – giving important textual variants without losing the reader in a morass of unnecessary details. For example, although the BSB follows the majority of recent versions in translating Psalm 104:4 “He makes the winds His messengers, flames of fire His servants” it does give a note with the alternative reading “He makes His angels winds, His servants flames of fire” – which is quoted exactly that way in Hebrews 1:7. Unfortunately, many other translations do not give this important alternate reading.
Like all translations, the BSB is not perfect, but its attempt to faithfully follow the meaning of the underlying Hebrew and Greek text is commendable, and it is a translation that can be trusted for everyday study of the Scriptures.
The publishers of the BSB have generously made the translation available for free in a number of electronic versions suitable for reading on any computer, tablet, e-book reader, or smartphone. So if you have not used the Berean Study Bible, we recommend that you download a free copy in a format of your choice – either from the publisher’s website or from our sister site, FreeChristianEBooks.org – and that you try it. It is a very worthwhile Bible version to have available for comparison, and one that you may well find yourself using regularly.