Public Domain or Otherwise Free Bible Translations?

My friends & I have tentatively begun our own original Bible commentary, and we wish to include the verses along with the commentary.

The commentary will be absolutely freely available (though we may see about having a paper version available to help support our work). As such, whatever Bible we use would need to be able to be distrubuted under those terms as well.

We know most any “old” version would work–the King James, Darby, and the American Stanard come to mind. We are also aware that the modern World English Bible is in the public domain as well.

The publishers of the New English Translation have been contacted, and we are awaiting a reply. However, we would like to have backup choices in case the NET is not usable.

Ideally, we would love to use the New King James or New American Standard Versions, though we cannot afford to pay any kind of royalties, assuming they would be required. That should give some kind of idea as to what kind of translation we are looking for, however.

Does anyone know of any freely available (or very leniently licensed) modern versions that are either in the formal equivalency or literal translation groups?

5 thoughts on “Public Domain or Otherwise Free Bible Translations?”

  1. The NET Bible was the first to come to mind but I’m not sure just how literal it is and therefore I’m not sure if it would be good for a commentary. Obviously your first choice will either be the ESV or the NAS.

    I think this idea of a public domain commentary is GREAT!

  2. One of us does really, really want to use the ESV. However, I’m not for sure any of the three of us actually has a copy of the ESV in print, which makes being able to study or even quote from it conveniently, well, not so convenient.

    Also, “absolutely freely available” may have not been the best choice of words. It will not be a public domain commentary; it will be available under the Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 license. It grants quite a bit of freedom, while still allowing us the rights to the work.

  3. The NET bible is probably the best source you can use. The textual critical notes, editors notes, etc. are for serious bible study. I wouldn’t use it for the actual verses to include in print, as it doesn’t flow as well as other translations, but it is the best you will find for accuracy and detail.

  4. You may want to try searching for verses on They have licensing rights for just about any translation you can think of, and if you select a scripture in one, the copyright info will be listed at the bottom of the page. I like how the NIV reads myself, though I’m not too keen on some of its inaccuracies. I’m looking to do something like this on my blog as well.

  5. The NDV (New Darby Version, 2016) is a modern version without a copyright. The publishing rights are the only thing retained (for textual integrity). I’ve seen it on Ebay as well as …might be useful for your purposes.

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