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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