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November 20th, 2010

public domain bibles

So far the Karaite Movement is the only Jewish organization I have found to have placed their online version of the 1917 JPS Bible into the public domain. Others I have found state that, though the text of that bible is in the pd, their online edition is not. The claims may or may not be bogus – the groups may have added annotations, for instance – but in any case I find the generosity underwhelming.

Now, given that Karaism focuses more strongly on critical Bible-reading than does rabbinic Judaism, I am not surprised that a neo-Karaite group would give away their version. And, in fact, I think the only change they have made is to replace ‘The Lord’ or the like with ‘YHWH’ throughout, which seems to be a practice of that particular subset of Karaite practitioners. No massive annotation or anything like that.

(I wonder, though, if the ‘Young’s literal translation’ that is online and in the public domain wouldn’t be generally more useful, even if it is not the best ‘literal translation’ for the task. The 1917 JPS retains such Jacobean distortions as starting Genesis with ‘In the beginning’, cropping out what this was the beginning of. I myself can’t read the Hebrew, and am dependent on translators.)

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