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Friday, November 25, 2005

The World English Bible

Some people would say there are already enough (or even too many) versions of the Bible. But the World English Bible is an interesting new translation: a totally public domain, modern English translation of the Bible!

I don't want to get involved in the whole "King James vs. New International Version" debate, but I will say that this is a really great project. The idea is excellent, and the translation is based on three public domain texts: the American Standard Version (first written in 1901), the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. The primary translation work is done by Michael Paul Johnson, with proofreading by many, many volunteers.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with having copyrighted versions; proceeds from the NIV, for example, help fund further translation of the Bible into new languages. And, of course, the proceeds from all the major modern translations enable scholars to pursue such work as a full-time vocation (which is unbelievably important).

The WEB, on the other hand, is entirely public domain. So authors can quote Scripture extensively in their works; programmers or webmasters can include the entire Bible in a program or website; and individuals or small groups can create their own tracts and literature—all without royalties! It's a great option for small, independent authors and the like, since royalties can be prohibitively expensive for such projects.

The full version of the World English Bible is a work in progress, due out around Christmas, so the verdict is still out. But the motives of the translators are definitely to be praised.


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