The first time I remember hearing about the HCSB translation was in John Macarthur's book: 'SLAVE: The hidden truth about your identity in Christ', in which this translation is used because it translates 'doulos' literally as 'slave' rather than the less accurate translation of 'servant' or 'bondservant'. That made me curious to take a better look at the translation. This translation uses "Optimal Equivalence" as the translation method which they consider to be a careful cross between formal equivalence an dynamic/functional equivalence. Also, the translators do not give in to gender neutrality, as they mention in their 'introduction': "…the translators have not changed 'him' to 'you' or to 'them,' neither have they avoided other masculine words such as 'father' or 'son' by translating them in generic terms…"
There were some specific things that I looked for, in particular the usage of other translations of the Old Testament for textual criticism. In Genesis 4:8 instead of the verse reading , "And Cain told Abel his brother. And it came to pass, when they were in the field…"( ASV) it relies upon the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Septuagint, Syriac and Vulgate and reads, "Cain said to his brother Abel, 'Let's go out to the field.' And while they were in the field…" Including that statement there is added clarity, and, though not in the Masoretic text, it has numerous supports in other available texts. They support their translation choices/sources with footnotes explaining where the variants are taken from and also to give alternate readings that are not found in the Masoretic text of the OT. I did appreciate that, unlike the NIV, at Isaiah 7:14 where it says "the virgin will conceive…" they do not have a footnote saying "or young woman". But I didn't like that, unlike the NIV, in Psalm 40 where they follow the Masoretic wording of "my ears you have opened" they don't include a footnote mentioning that other ancient translations like the LXX read "body you have prepared for me".
It reads in a sort of cross between modern English and a more literal style, though I think it is leaning more towards a literal translation which I appreciate. But overall, I think I like the translation. Oh, I also liked how they converted measurements into feet, inches, miles…etc. It makes it easier to picture.
And now, as for the external/material things, the binding of this version was silky smooth, and I like the simple yet decorative cover. On the inside the font is nice and large and easily readable, even the footnotes are a nice size. This Bible has a topical concordance at the back and at the beginning a summary of God's plan for salvation in which I particularly liked some of their wording for instance, "First, God says we must repent. The word 'repent' means a change of direction. This means when we turn to God, we are turning away from sin and giving up on the attempt to make ourselves right before God."
Many thanks to B&H publishers for sending me a free copy of this Bible to review!(My review did not have to be favorable)