What translation should I use for Revelation?
I learned something today! Something that I think is interesting. Maybe you would like to know this thing that I learned, too! Did you know that you can't just use portions of the Bible for profit, willy-nilly? That is, you can't use certain translations without permission.
As you may or may not know, I'm hoping to sell my Revelation illustrations as a PDF - including the original scriptures!
When I was putting together my Illustrated Revelation book I copy-pasted the scripture passages into my PDF. I used ESV because it's my favourite, and it's the one we used at Bible school. I am going to put it up for sale in my shop and on Gumroad. But, before that I asked a few friends to look it over and see if they caught any mistakes or problems in the design. One of them asked, "do you know if you're allowed to use the ESV translation?"
To which I replied, "Oooohhhhh... I didn't think of that."
SO, I emailed Crossway, who publishes and sells ESV Bibles. I asked them if I could to use the ESV Bible in my Illustrated Revelation book, or if that infringed on some rule I don't know about. Turns out, a person cannot use the ESV translation in a product they want to sell for profit. They told me, "To publish a work where the majority of the work's text is comprised of the ESV text and quotes a complete book would require a formal ESV Print license, and unfortunately [they] do not provide these to individuals but instead to trusted bible publishers."
That was news to me! They suggested that I either try to get a print license for a different translation, or use a public domain translation of the Bible. I thanked them for letting me know. (Honestly, I'm so glad my friend prompted me to email Crossway. It would have been embarrassing to self publish this illustrated book only to find out I was - gasp - breaking the law!)
So, I thought maybe I'd try to use a public domain version of the Bible. But which one?
According to Bible Gateway, these translations are public domain:
Darby Translation (DARBY)
King James Version (KJV)
World English Bible (WEB)
Reina-Valera Antigua (RVA)
Biblia Sacra Vulgata (VULGATE)
I decided to check these ones out - the ones I could read, that is! (Sorry, Reina-Vlera Antigua and Biblia Sacra Vulgata!) Here they are, and a sample first page of my book:
(I kept the titles of the ESV version, because I like 'em)
American Standard Version (ASV)
A very literal translation, similar to the King James Version. You've probably read it. :) One difference, according to Bible Gateway, is "The divine name of the Almighty (the Tetragrammaton) is consistently rendered Jehovah in the ASV Old Testament, rather than LORD as it appears in the King James Bible."
Darby Translation (DARBY)
According to Bible Gateway: "J. N. Darby's purpose was, as he states in the preface to his English New Testament, to make a modern translation for the unlearned who have neither access to manuscript texts nor training and knowledge of ancient languages of the Scriptures. Darby's translation work was not intended to be read aloud. His work was for study and private use. In his own oral ministry he generally used the English KJV Bible.J. N. Darby's purpose was, as he states in the preface to his English New Testament, to make a modern translation for the unlearned who have neither access to manuscript texts nor training and knowledge of ancient languages of the Scriptures. Darby's translation work was not intended to be read aloud. His work was for study and private use. In his own oral ministry he generally used the English KJV Bible."
Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
According to Bible Gateway: "The Douay–Rheims Bible is a translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English made by members of the Catholic seminary English College, Douai, France. It is the foundation on which nearly all English Catholic versions are still based.
The translation, although competent, exhibited a taste for Latinisms that was not uncommon in English writing of the time but seemed excessive in the eyes of later generations. The New Testament influenced the Authorized Version."