Psalm 16:5

The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.

God's Warth is Coming... Are You Ready?

You had better listen to the words of Jesus, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, shall enter, but he that does the will of my father in heaven.” If ye by the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live. If you live after the flesh, you’ll die! The cross does not give us a minor shift or two with regard to a few of our ethical and religious values. The cross radically disrupts the very center and citadel of your life from self to Christ. And if the cross has not done that, YOU’RE NOT A CHRISTIAN! My Friend face it, young rogue, you’re not a Christian until the cross has radically disrupted the very center and citadel of your life! And brought you from a life of commitment to serve self…What are the focal points of the reign of your self? If you’ve gone to the cross in union with Christ, it’s been shattered!"
- Al Martin

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Should We Copyright the Bible?

One thing that has long seemed wrong to me is the copyrighting of Scripture translations. I wonder what has become of us that we use the Bible to make money, rather than do everything we can to get it into as many hands as possible? Consider the Spirit of Tyndale and then ask yourself if today's translators and publishers have the same idea.

"I assure you, if it would stand the King's most gracious pleasure to grant only a bare text of the Scripture to be put forth among his people, like as it is put forth among the subjects of the emperor of these parts, and of other Christian princes, be it of a translation of what person soever shall please his Majesty, I shall immediately make faithful promise never to write more, nor abide two days in these parts after the same: but immediately to repair unto his realm, and there most humbly submit myself at the feet of his royal majesty, offering my body to suffer what pain or torture, yea, what death his grace will, so this be obtained. Until that time, I will abide the asperity of all chances, whatsoever shall come, and endure my life in as many pains as it is able to bear and suffer."
     -William Tyndale


  1. Ryan - you ask a good question, and I think you hold the opinion of many Christians out there. However, the cost of creating one of these translations can go into the tens of millions of dollars. Since the three most popular English translations (NIV, NLT, NKJV) were created by for-profit companies (although the NIV was technically created by IBS and is distributed by a for-profit company), they don't have the luxury of asking for donations to pay for the work. The bigger question is, what's happening to the money that's collected when you pay for one of these translations? With the NIV and the NKJV, the majority of the money is eventually being dispersed to shareholders (public with Zonder, and private with Nelson). With the NLT, the majority of the money is being distributed to national and international non-profit organizations who primarily focus on making God's Word more accessible. This year, more than $4MM was given away by the Tyndale House Foundation. I'm pretty sure Zonder and Nelson also donate from their Bible proceeds, but I'm fairly confident that's it's not nearly to this degree. I hope that helps. -cj-

  2. Cjv,
    Thanks for the comment. I guess it is not so much that people receive the fruits of their labors, but the actual copyright itself. I can find no scriptural justification for copyrighting the Word of God. If you sell a Bible, great! I have no problem with that. And it is great that some groups are giving many proceeds to making the Word more accessible. But to make it illegal to freely reproduce the written Word and say that you have to get permission from a company - I can't take that at this point. If somebody can show me in the Bible a good justification for it, then I will update my view on the matter - but until then, I can't uphold that as good. I realize that the Bible says "Thou shall not steal." But to make it so that to copy the Bible is stealing? What if the Roman Catholic church had copyrighted the Bible? Should it have then become a Biblical crime to reproduce the Bible without permission (which they would have never given)? If I was involved in Bible translation and somebody used the fruit of my labors to begin printing Bibles, Scripturally, I would have to rejoice that it was being used. If it was being used to make money (with a goal of making money more that the actual preaching of the Word), I would still have to rejoice - Paul said that though Christ was preached with a goal of making his bonds worse, he would still rejoice. The good news is that the KJV is hands down my favorite Bible translation - and it is not copyrighted! I can freely copy and use it without permission from anyone but the author Himself.

    So, if anyone out there has some other thoughts on that, I would love to hear them.

  3. I talked with my elders tonight, Scott Brown and Dan Horn, about this issue, and they said that while you can make a case for the translators being worthy of their labor, in general, they are opposed to copyrighting the Word of God. Dan Horn added that there is no real scriptural justification for copyrighting sermons either - so that gives some room for thought.