Sunday, April 19, 2015

Christian Non-Fiction Authors: Selecting a Bible Translation for Your Manuscript

Christian Non-Fiction Authors BEWARE:

Are you using your favorite Bible translation in your compositions without permission from the one that owns that translation? I fell into that trap – fortunately I found out before the work was published but only after countless hours of effort.

Some people wonder why I chose the New English Translation (NET) Bible for my categorization of Proverbs (A Topical Treasury of Proverbs, $19.95). That was not my preferred translation. The answer lies in the very restrictive copyrights that are in most Bibles.

If you look at the copyright for a Bible from Zondervan, Tyndale House, Thomas Nelson, or most of the other well known Bibles except the King James Version (KJV), you will see that people (including authors) are not permitted to copy an entire book of the Bible unless you have their written permission. For example, the 1984 New International Version (NIV) restricted authors to 500 verses and 25 percent of any book. The newer version of the New International Version is considerably more restrictive.

I began my first analysis of Proverbs in 2004 by naively using one of those restricted translations. I put hours and hours and hours into that study only to hit bottom: no authorization. In 2007, my pastor suggested I look at the NET Bible. After some research, I found it is a good translation, was heavily researched during the translation from Hebrew, and is totally free without copyright restrictions. Again countless hours based on a nearly fresh start and frankly a better approach – it was published in 2008.

Today we find many translations of the Bible that are available on-line and totally free. offers many translations but there are many other on-line providers. But that does not mean you may copy and use them in your manuscripts!! Authors BEWARE.

Besides the NET Bible, consider also the English Standard Version (ESV) but still look at the copyright page before proceeding. Some publishers may grant permission to you on an individual basis. If you know a publisher that is easy to work with in that way, please make a comment on this blog. Thank you.