What translation should I use for Revelation?


Revelation: Illustrated Book Title. ESV Not Allowed!

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:

(Non-english)

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."

Revelation Chapter 1, American Standard Version

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."

Revelation Chapter 1, Darby Translation

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."

Revelation Chapter 1, Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition

King James Version (KJV)

According to Bible Gateway: "In 1604, King James I of England authorized that a new translation of the Bible into English be started. It was finished in 1611, just 85 years after the first translation of the New Testament into English appeared (Tyndale, 1526). The Authorized Version, or King James Version, quickly became the standard for English-speaking Protestants. Its flowing language and prose rhythm has had a profound influence on the literature of the past 400 years. The King James Version present on the Bible Gateway matches the 1987 printing. The KJV is public domain in the United States."

Revelation Chapter 1, King James Version

World English Bible (WEB)

According to Bible Gateway: "The World English Bible (WEB) is a Public Domain (no copyright) Modern English translation of the Holy Bible. That means that you may freely copy it in any form, including electronic and print formats. The World English Bible is based on the American Standard Version of the Holy Bible first published in 1901, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. It is in draft form, and currently being edited for accuracy and readability."

Revelation Chapter 1, World English Bible

Young's Literal Translation (YLT)

According to Bible Gateway: "The Bible text designated YLT is from the 1898 Young's Literal Translation by Robert Young who also compiled Young's Analytical Concordance. This is an extremely literal translation that attempts to preserve the tense and word usage as found in the original Greek and Hebrew writings."

Revelation Chapter 1, Young's Literal Translation

Anyway...


I found it interesting perusing the different Public Domain translations available to me. I hope you found it interesting too! (I'm looking at you, fellow Bible nerds!) But which one should I use for my book? I'd love to hear your opinion about it, if you've got one! Tell me in the comments, or shoot me an email! I'm looking forward to making this book available on the store. :)

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