Updated 22 October 2012.
This Frequently Asked Questions document covers the following about the World English Bible (WEB):
That is a good question. There are many good English translations of
the Holy Bible.
Unfortunately, all of them are either (1) archaic (like the KJV and ASV
of 1901), or (2)
covered by copyright restrictions that prevent unrestricted free
posting on the internet
or other media (like the NIV and NASB). The Bible in Basic English
(BBE) was in the Public
Domain in the USA (but not all countries) for a while, but its
copyrighted status was
restored by GATT. (The BBE used a rather restricted subset of English,
its accuracy and readability.) In other words, at the time this project was started, there was NO OTHERcomplete
translation of the Holy Bible in normal Modern English that could be
freely copied (except
for some limited “fair use” or in the case of the NET Bible,
restrictions regarding personal use only, etc.) without written
permission from the
(usually) payment of royalties. This is the vacuum
that the World English Bible is filling. This is a quality translation
of the Holy Bible into modern English that you may freely use, either
for personal or commercial purposes. There is no legal monopoly
controlling what books you may quote Scriptures from this
translationin, or what Bible study software may or may not use this
The copyright laws of most nations and the international treaties that support them are a mixed blessing. By granting authors and translators a legal monopoly (for a limited, but very long, time) on the right of copying and “first sale” of their works, the law makers have made writing and translating very profitable for some people whose works are in great demand. This has, no doubt, been a factor in the creation of many of the good Modern English translations of the Holy Bible that we now enjoy. The problem with this system, with respect to the Holy Bible, is that it has had the effect of limiting distribution of God’s Word in modern languages. For example, I cannot legally post copies of the entire New International Version of the Holy Bible on my web site in a downloadable, searchable, and readily copyable format without the permission of the International Bible Society and Zondervan (copyright owner and publisher). Zondervan won’t grant such permission unless they get a significant royalty (they quoted me $10,000 + $10/copy distributed) and unless I convince them that my Bible search software is “good enough” for them. Needless to say, the Bible search software that I am writing with the intention of distributing as donorware will not come with the NIV.
The problem of copyright protection of Modern English translations of the Holy Bible is not just significant on the Internet and various electronic information services. It also affects people who want to quote significant portions of Scripture in books, audio tapes, and other media. This drives up the price of preaching the Gospel. Basic economics tells us that this is not a good thing when our goal is to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). For example, the “free” Bibles that the Gideons place cost more if they use a modern version, like Thomas-Nelson’s New King James Version, than if they use the (more difficult to read) King James Version.
Naturally, I’m not suggesting that we abolish the copyright law or that existing Modern English translations be immediately released to the Public Domain. I understand the way that the profits from the sales of some Bible translations, help fund other ministry activities (as well as helping to enrich some people). I also understand that the business of Bible sales has helped establish a good supply of Bibles in many parts of the world, in a variety of formats, sizes, styles, and colors. What we are doing is liberating at least one Modern English translation of the Holy Bible from all copyright restrictions -- a translation that is trustworthy, accurate, and useful for evangelism and discipleship.
Another concern where copyright restrictions come into play is in
creating derivative works. For example, the copyright notice of the
NASB expressly forbids
making translations or derivative works based on the NASB without
getting permission from
the Lockman Foundation. I don’t know if they would make this easy or
hard, expensive or
cheap, but I do know that there will be no need to even ask when using
the WEB. At this point, there are several Bible translations derived
from the World English Bible, none of which would have been likely to
see the light of day without such a nice free starting point.
Why not? They are important to those who consider them to be part of the canon or secondary canon (deuterocanon) of Scripture. They are also useful aids to understanding the history and context of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments that all Christians agree are part of the Holy Bible. Maybe we can't solve the disagreements about what their status is, what they should be called, and which books should be included, but we can certainly make a modern English translation of them freely available in the same manner as the World English Bible. Included in this section are books found in Roman Catholic Bibles, Greek and Slavonic Bibles, and (in the case of 4 Maccabees) an appendix to the Septuagint.
The following books and parts of books are recognized as Deuterocanonical Scripture by the Roman Catholic, Greek, and Russian Orthodox Churches: Tobit, Judith, Esther from the Greek Septuagint, The Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus or the Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach, Baruch, The Letter of Jeremiah (sometimes included as chapter 6 of Baruch), Daniel from the Greek Septuagint (including the Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon), 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees. If you count the Greek Esther as one book and the extra parts of Daniel found in the Greek but not the Hebrew Old Testament as separate books, that makes a total of 88 books in the Roman Catholic Bible.
The following books are recognized as Deuterocanonical Scripture by the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches, but not the Roman Catholic Church: 1 Esdras, The Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, and 3 Maccabees. Note that 1 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh are also in an appendix to the Latin Vulgate Bible.
The Slavonic Bible includes 2 Esdras, but calls it 3 Esdras. This same book is in the Appendix to the Latin Vulgate as 4 Esdras.
An appendix to the Greek Septuagint contains 4 Maccabees. It is included for its historical value.
The World English Bible: Messianic Edition and World English Bible British Messianic Edition do not include any of the Apocryphal books, since they are not considered Scripture in the Hebrew tradition.
Among Christian denominations, opinions vary widely on these books, as do the collective names they give them. Many regard them as useful in gaining additional understanding of the Old and New Testaments and the hand of God in history, even if they don't give them the same status as the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments.
Since the American Standard Version of 1901 did not include an Apocrypha, the World English Bible Apocrypha is derived from the Apocrypha in the Revised Version of 1894, or (where a section is not in that book) the LXX2012 Septuagint in English, which is in turn a language update of the Brenton translation of the Septuagint into English. The original World English Bible Apocrypha that was derived from the King James Version Apocrypha has been phased out.
The World English Bible is an ecumenical work, not under the control or supervision of any single denomination. We just work to make it an excellent translation, and leave it to Christians of various denominations and positions of leadership to prayerfully evaluate and compare the results with other translations. We are open to comments from all who believe in Jesus Christ and who respect the Word of God as inspired by the Holy Spirit, and prayerfully evaluate all of them.
It is our prayer that this Bible translation will part of a bridge between Christian denominations and bring healing to the Body of Christ.
No. Copyright protection is intended to protect the income of the
sales of a work, but we are planning to GIVE AWAY
the right to
make copies of this
version of the Holy Bible to anyone who wants it, so we have nothing to
lose that way.
There is some argument for copyrighting a Bible translation just to
retain some legal
control against some evil, cultic revision of a translation.
Historically, this has not been effective in fully preventing heretical
modification of a Bible, although there is some plausibility to that
argument. However, all copyrights expire, and all copyrights rely on
civil lawsuits by copyright owners for enforcement. Some countries have
a copyright law and are a party to copyright treaties, but enforcement
is either impractical or impossible. So...good luck with that. As for us, we choose to rely for protection of God's Word by God Himself, first and foremost, (see Revelation 22:18-19)
and then by the use of a TradeMarked name and digital signatures.
One other major
concern is that somebody might later claim a copyright on the WEB and
remove it from the
Public Domain. Because there is a timely and public declaration of the
status of the WEB by those who are working on it, that would not work,
and they would not
be able to defend such a bogus copyright claim. Such a claim would
actually be morally equivalent to theft of intellectual property from
the general public, just as much as unauthorized copying of a newly
released movie, song, or book would be theft of intellectual property
from the copyright owner. Even if someone makes a
composite work of the World English Bible and study notes, parallel
translations, etc., and claims a copyright on the combined work, anyone
can still get the pure World English Bible from a clean source, and use
it totally unencumbered by that combined work copyright.
With a Public Domain work, there is a hazard of confusion if many people start revising it or making derivative works from it and call it the same thing. For that reason, the name “World English Bible” is a trademark that may only be used to identify the World English Bible as published from eBible.org and WorldEnglishBible.org, and faithful copies of that work. In addition, official distributions of the World English Bible are digitally signed to provide a tamper-evident seal.At this point in time, with the World English Bible and its derivatives, the World English Bible: Messianic Edition, and the World English Bible British Edition firmly in the Public Domain, copyleft is not an option. We cannot and will not use a Creative Commons or other similar copyleft license, because those don't work without a copyright. "Copyrighted" and "Public Domain" are opposites. Nothing can be both at the same time. We did consider such a license at the beginning of this project, and rejected it, because it does not realistically offer any advantage over the protections we already have with a digital signature, trademark protection on the name, and God's own protection of His Word. Even if you were to discount or underestimate the latter (which would be silly), there is no scenario that any of us have imagined in which copyright could help us to prevent a real-world problem to any greater extent than what we are already doing. For example, copyright on a good translation cannot prevent someone from making a bad, even heretical translation of the Holy Bible. (It has already happened, and nobody could or did stop it with copyrights.) We are happy with the decision to place the World English Bible firmly in the Public Domain. Even if we weren't, it is way too late to change that decision.
The World English Bible is an update of the American Standard Version of 1901, which is in the Public Domain. It has been edited to conform to the Greek Majority Text New Testament. This revision is also in the Public Domain, which sets it apart from other revisions of the American Standard Version, like the New American Standard Bible and the Revised Standard Version. The first pass of the translation, which has already been done, was to convert archaic words and word forms to modern equivalents using a custom computer program. The manual editing is then done to add quotation marks (the ASV of 1901 had none), update other punctuation, update usage, and spot check the translation against the original languages in places where the meaning is unclear or significant textual variants exist. Many people proofread the work and send typo reports and suggestions in. These are reviewed, and if they are found to have merit, edits are made. Sometimes reviewing a suggestion brings to light a better option. As this is going on, the draft at the WEB web page is updated.
who are born again and seeking to daily follow the leading of the Holy
Spirit. There are several organizations involved, too, in some way or
another. We don't publish a complete list, because, to be honest, we
lost track, and because we don't want the World English Bible to be
judged by the people working on it but rather on the results. The
senior editor is Michael Paul Johnson.
If the Lord
so moves you, tax-deductible financial gifts to help pay for WEB
publishing and other
costs associated with this project may be made by designating
donations "FUND CODE #70" and making payment to
WORLD OUTREACH MINISTRIES
PO BOX B
MARIETTA GA 30061-0379
Donations may also be made online by donating to Michael and Lori
Many people have been involved in the production and editing of the World English Bible from a variety of backgrounds. Because this is a revision of the American Standard Version of the Revised Bible, we start with the over 50 Evangelical scholars who worked on that project. They, in turn, relied on the work of those who had gone before them. We also rely on the work of many scholars who have found, compiled, combined, and published the excellent and highly accurate Hebrew and Greek texts from which we work. We also rely on the excellent lexicons of Hebrew, Chaldee, and Greek that are available to us.
In addition to these excellent references that represent literally hundreds of years of combined labor by many committed Christian men and women, we have access to the United Bible Society's handbooks on Bible translation and a large number of other English translations to compare and consult.
Among the volunteers who have contributed to this project, we have people who attend various churches, including Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, non-denominational, and many more. This broad representation helps guard against introducing sectarian bias into the work. In addition, the novel technique of publishing draft copies of the World English Bible on the Internet provides additional protection against bias, because all serious comments are carefully considered and the wording compared to the original language.
Although we don’t demand credentials from people who comment on the translation by email, we do validate their comments before deciding what to do with them.
We do have one senior editor who is responsible for decisions regarding the text, but he is also accountable to several other Christians. Everyone who has authority to decide on the wording in the World English Bible believes in the inspiration by the Holy Spirit of the text as recorded by the original authors. In addition, we also believe that the Holy Spirit is still active in preserving the text and helps us in our work to the extent that we let Him.
Standing on the shoulders of giants - those mighty men of God who provided the critically edited original language texts, translated other English versions (especially the ASV), wrote the great translation guides available from the American Bible Society, and the writers of the Greek & Hebrew study materials I use - is the most obvious. Others include having studied the Bible for years, studying several languages, and earning a Master’s degree. None of those matter as much as the next reason. God called me to do this, and I willingly answered His call. God would not call me to do something without enabling me to do so. Without God’s call, I would drop this project like a hot rock. Although many people contribute suggestions and typo reports, they are all checked before editing the master copy of the World English Bible.
The WEB must
Bible translation (as with any natural language translation) is a balancing act, where the translators seek to preserve the following:
Note that some of the above goals are at odds with one another, like preservation of the original style vs. faithfulness to the target language, and expressing the last bit of the shades of meaning vs. preserving the impact. Still, it is possible to retain a good balance. Different balance points are chosen by different translation committees. Indeed, many translations can be characterized by the weight the translators gave to each of the above items. For example, The Amplified Bible excels at getting the meaning across, but falls down hard on impact, style preservation, and faithfulness to the target language. The New Living Translation excels at preserving the meanings of entire thoughts, impact, and faithfulness to the target language, but loses some of the style and shades of meaning. The New International Version excels at most of the above, but loses some elements of style and some of the subtleties of wording. The World English Bible attempts to balance all of the above with a fairly literal translation.
Some people like to use the terms “formal equivalent” and “dynamic equivalent.” Neither of these exactly describe what we are doing, since we have borrowed ideas from both, but I suppose that we are closer to formal equivalence than dynamic equivalence.
We pray for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and I believe He supplies it. However, our ability to receive that great gift is imperfect. We do not claim that the translation is perfect, and we certainly don't believe it to be more reliable than the original language texts we are translating from. We do ask you to pray for us, that God would help us to find whatever needs to be corrected, and that we would be wise in filtering through suggested changes to discern what is from God and what is not.
Yes. In spite of its imperfections and lack of grammatical polish in some sections that have not been completed, yet, none of those things detract from or confuse the basic message of the Good News about Jesus Christ. The World English Bible in its current form is still better than the American Standard Version that we started with, and no worse than the ASV in any section. The ASV was and is considered to be a very reliable and honest translation of the Holy Bible. None of the language update edits we do change the meaning in any significant way, and none of the edits to conform to the Greek Majority Text have any significant impact on basic doctrine. Our Lord commanded that we who believe in him teach others what he taught us. Whatever our Lord commands us is possible, even if it means walking on water. God watches over his word to perform it. Bible translation is one important aspect of obeying the Great Commission. Therefore, you can rely on God’s Word, because God ’s message to us is so clear that it doesn’t rely on the little subtleties of any one language. It is translatable, and the Holy Spirit helps those whom he has called to translate the Holy Bible.
Since this is primarily an update of the 1901 edition, the choices made by the original 50 or so Evangelical scholars that made this translation hold unless reference is made to the original languages to help with places where the Elizabethan English is not clear, or where major textual variants are known to exist. In this case, we are using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, also called The Stuttgart Bible, in the Old Testament, and the Byzantine Majority Text as published for use with The Online Bible in the New Testament (M-Text). This choice of Greek text is very close to what the KJV translators used, but does take advantage of some more recently discovered manuscripts. Although there are good scholarly arguments both for and against using the Byzantine Majority Text over the “Alexandrian” text based on the dating and critical editing work of Nestle and Aland and published by the United Bible Societies (NU), we find the following to be compelling reasons:
The WEB is different enough to avoid copyright infringement, but similar enough to avoid incurring the wrath of God. By “different enough,” I mean that the wording is about as different from any one Modern English translation as the current translations differ from each other. By “similar enough,” I mean that the meaning is preserved and that the Gospel still cuts to the very soul. It is most similar to the ASV of 1901, of course, but I suppose that similarities will be found with other translations.
The WEB doesn’t capitalize pronouns pertaining to God. This is similar to the NRSV and NIV, and the same as the original ASV of 1901. Note that this is an English style decision, because Hebrew has no such thing as upper and lower case, and the oldest Greek manuscripts were all upper case. I kind of prefer the approach of the KJV, NKJV, and NASB of capitalizing these pronouns, because I write that way most of the time and because it is a way of offering greater honor to God. I admit that it is kind of a throw-back to the Olde English practice of capitalizing pronouns referring to the king. This is archaic, because we don’t capitalize pronouns that refer to our president. It is also true that choosing to capitalize pronouns relating to God causes some difficulties in translating the coronation psalms, where the psalm was initially written for the coronation of an earthly king, but which also can equally well be sung or recited to the praise of the King of Kings. Capitalizing pronouns relating to God also makes for some strange reading where people were addressing Jesus with anything but respect. In any case, in the presence of good arguments both ways, we have decided to leave these as they were in the ASV 1901 (which also gives us fewer opportunities to make mistakes).
The WEB, like the ASV of 1901, breaks the KJV tradition by printing
God’s proper Name
in the Old Testament with a spelling closest to what we think it was
instead of rendering that Name as “LORD” or “GOD”
(with all caps or small caps). The current
has shifted from spelling this Name as “Jehovah” to spelling it as
“Yahweh”. There are also a few places in the Old Testament where God's proper name is shortened to “Yah”, and those are transliterated as they stand. There are a couple of other English translations that use
“Yahweh,” so this is not new, per se, but it does set it off a little
translations. However, in the WEB:ME and WEBBE, we go back to the
KJV-like tradition of using “LORD” or “GOD” (all caps instead of small
caps). Note that the Septuagint and the Greek New Testament do not transliterate God's name, but substitute the Greek word for “Lord”, instead, we do not use “Yahweh” anywhere in the New Testament or the Apocrypha/Deuterocanon.
Because World English Bible (WEB) uses the Majority Text as the basis for the New Testament, you may notice the following differences in comparing the WEB to other translations:
May God open their eyes and give them a sound understanding.
If you prefer the King James Version of the Holy Bible, then, by all means, read it and do what it teaches. I think that the KJV was a wonderful Contemporary English translation of the Holy Bible when it came out. It has been mightily used by God and has had (and continues to have) a profoundly good impact. Unfortunately, the evolution of the English language continually erodes its value as time goes on. It is now outsold by the excellent New International Version, for many good reasons.
I guess that there are a few people that seem to believe that the KJV is more accurate than the original Hebrew and Greek of the Holy Bible, and that all the other versions are tainted with heresy and conspiracy. I’ve read some of their literature. I found it to be some of the most non-Christian and illogical literature that I have endured, thus further proving the claim that the KJV is the only valid Bible to be wrong, at least in my mind. I guess I’ve now put myself on record as being a heretic in their eyes, but I must follow God rather than men.
Indeed, throwing another Modern English translation into the “market” to “compete” with solid translations like the NIV and publishing giants like Zondervan sounds as silly. It sounds like that, perhaps, until you consider that the primary target for the WEB is royalty-free distribution of the Holy Bible in unlimited copies made by many people using many computers, tape recorders, photocopiers, and presses all over the world. This is a “market” that the “giants” have excluded themselves from. Indeed, if they change that policy (don’t hold your breath waiting for them to), we win, anyway. If we win this area, that is enough to justify this effort. If we do an excellent job, the WEB might possibly start competing in more conventional areas (like printed Bibles in bookstores), but not because of any significant effort or marketing on our part. After all, the bookstores have lots of Bibles in Modern English, already.
Once you look at the whole picture of what is going on, the multi-million dollar publishers and Bible translators really don’t have much of an effect on us, nor do we have much of an effect on them. The result of the combined efforts of both is simply more complete availability of the Holy Bible in Modern English.
Of course, it does take considerable effort to pull off a decent Bible translation -- even a language update like the WEB. Fortunately, there are lots of people willing to volunteer some time to help with this cause, and the Internet helps bring those people together.
The real bottom line, though, is that this is God’s project, and He is fully capable of providing everything that we need to accomplish His goals.
If you want to help edit the World English Bible, please:
Specifically, we need people who will read drafts of WEB chapters carefully, checking the following things, and email suggestions for improvements in the following areas:
If you find that you are making suggestions in almost every verse in parts of the Bible that are essentially done, you are probably not on the right track. Note that all suggestions made in line with the guidelines in this document will be seriously considered. There is no guarantee, of course, that any suggestion will result in a change, or that if there is a change, it will be the one you suggested, especially in those areas that involve judgment calls. We are likely to get conflicting suggestions for the same passage, and sometimes in the review process, another alternative comes up that is better. If in doubt, suggest or ask, anyway. We want to eradicate as many of the above distractions as possible, so that the meaning and message of the Holy Bible come through clearly.
Draft portions of the WEB are published in the WEB mailing list and at http://ebible.org/web/, and for the Messianic and British/International spelling editions, at http://eBible.org/webme/ and http://eBible.org/be/, respectively.
Yes. Dr. Maurice Robinson is overseeing another project to revise
the ASV into what he
is calling the Modern American Standard Version (MASV). That project is
not on quite as
ambitious schedule, but it should be worth looking at when it is done.
There are now some
other works, too, like the Updated King James Version at
People often ask if we are aware
of the New English Translation,
and we are,
but it is not Public Domain. They do allow free downloads for personal
use, though, and there is a lot of scholarly work that went into that
translation. In particular, the translation and study notes associated
with that translation make it an excellent resource for Bible study.
There are also several derivatives of the World English Bible available
under different names in various places.
It is so close I can taste it, but no date is set, yet. If you want to be among the first to know the status of the completion of this project, please join one of the WEB News mailing lists. All of the books that are online should be correct with respect to meaning, but punctuation and language modernization work is still in progress on some books. The New Testament is done. The Old Testament is the next priority. Once the Old Testament is done, we plan to print at least one run of paper Bibles, although the main thrust of this translation will continue to be for electronic distribution. The Apocrypha is still on our list of things to do after that. A current list of the completed books is in http://eBible.org/web/copyright.htm (which also says that this work is not copyrighted).
You can buy a bound, printed copy of of the New Testament plus Psalms and Proverbs of the World English Bible online or by ordering it from a book store. Order ISBN 0-9703344-2-7 (paperback), ISBN 0-9703344-5-1 (hardback), or ISBN 0-9703344-7-8 (case laminate cover). A printed copy of the whole Bible will be available after the revision work is completed, typesetting is done, and fundraising for the initial print run is done. Currently, the printed copies of the WEB are kind of expensive because we use print-on-demand services. The whole Bible print run will be more of a traditional printing operation on Bible paper and with a choice of leather or paper covers. In the mean time, feel free to print one yourself. It will take a lot of paper and ink, and the result might be bulkier than you like, but you can do it.
World: because God’s Word is to the whole world, and this translation is to be read by English-speaking people all over the world.
English: a language spoken by about 10% of the people in the world.
Bible: God’s Holy Book.
WEB: This translation of the Holy Bible travels by way of the World-Wide Web, aided by its copyright-free status.
Several publishers that don’t already own rights to another modern English translation of the Holy Bible are likely to be interested. Ask them.
“Yahweh” is the most probable best transliteration of this most holy proper name from the Hebrew consonants YOD HE WAW HE, or YHWH. This holy name is sometimes rendered “Jehovah” based on the mixture of the vowels for “Adonai” (Lord) with the consonants “YHWH” as it is written in some later Hebrew manuscripts. The original Hebrew manuscripts had no vowels, and we believe that the vowels for “adonai” were added to reflect the tradition of avoiding pronouncing God’s name, and saying “Lord” instead, and was not an indication of how the name should be pronounced by those so bold as to actually utter God’s name. This is a break from the tradition of the KJV and others that use “LORD” or “GOD” with all caps or small caps to translate “YHWH”, and use “Lord” (normal mixed case) to translate “Adonai” and “God” (normal mixed case) to translate “Elohim.” That tradition gets confusing in some places, especially since “Yahweh” is used in conjunction with “Lord” and “God” in many places in the Old Testament. Since God’s proper name really is separate from the titles “Lord” and “God” in the original Hebrew, we wanted the English translation to reflect that fact, even when read aloud. In some places, “Yah,” a shortened version of God’s Name is used. This is how it is written in the Hebrew manuscripts in those places.
As a concession to strong tradition among Messianic Jews, the Hebrew Names Version of the World English Bible uses “LORD” or “GOD” (all capital letters) for “Yahweh” and “Yah.” We acknowledge that there are a wide variety of opinions on this subject, with preferences for using “HaShem” or “The Name.” Nevertheless, we are confident that the current rendition is pleasing to the Lord and acceptable to the majority of the Messianic Jews for whom we have made this translation available.The World English Bible British Edition also falls back to the tradition of using “LORD” or “GOD” (all capital letters) for “Yahweh” and “Yah.” The primary reason for this is that in some places where British spelling is used, like Papua New Guinea, this is the normal tradition, so much so that many people really don't recognize other renditions of God's Proper Name.
||JPS Tanach, KJV
||[the] LORD||[the] LORD|
Some people would also like to see “God” replaced with “Elohim.” We think that would be confusing for readers of the WEB and not desired by the majority of the readers of the WEB:ME.
In Hebrew, there is no such thing as upper and lower case. The original Greek manuscripts were written in all upper case letters. Therefore, this is mostly a question of English style more than a question of conforming to the original language texts. English style is a moving target, and there is not widespread agreement on capitalization of pronouns referring to God. A few hundred years ago, it was common practice to capitalize pronouns pertaining to any king or other national leader. Since God is the King of Kings, it only made sense to capitalize pronouns referring to God. In modern English, we don’t do that, even when writing very respectfully. In modern English, it is considered correct to either capitalize or not capitalize pronouns referring to God, but the practice should be consistent within a book. Other contemporary translations of the Holy Bible into English are pretty much evenly split between capitalizing and not capitalizing these pronouns.
There are three other translational issues involved. One is that it seems rather awkward to translate quotations of people who were deriding Jesus Christ, and who at that point didn’t believe that He was the spotless Son of God, capitalizing the pronouns they used to refer to Him. The New American Standard Bible handles this by putting in a footnote to explain that they capitalized the pronouns because of who Jesus Christ is, not who the speaker thought He was.
Another issue is that in some of the coronation psalms, it was clear that the psalm was originally written for the coronation of an earthly king (i. e. King Solomon), but the psalm applies and is used more often to sing praises to the King of Kings. In that case, it is difficult to choose which case to use for the pronouns. By not capitalizing pronouns pertaining to God, we as translators preserve the ambiguity of the original Scriptures and leave the application to the Holy Spirit and the reader.
The third translational issue is a more practical one. Because the World English Bible is an update of the American Standard Version of 1901, which does not capitalize pronouns referring to God, it would have required reviewing all pronouns in the Bible for capitalization, determining from the context which referred to God and which did not. Even when done carefully, there is a risk of making errors in the process, and in some cases (such as those mentioned above), footnotes would be in order to explain the ambiguities that would be totally unnecessary without the capitalization.
Therefore, we have decided to retain the ASV’s capitalization rules
the Bible text, even though we sometimes capitalize pronounce referring to God in our other writing.
Because the Greek New Testament was written not in the formal written register of the language, but in the informal register of the language used by common people, we have decided to use the less formal spoken register of the English language. This sounds much more natural when read aloud. The primary difference noticeable between spoken or informal written English and formal written English is the greater use of contractions.
English, and especially English as used internationally, has a broad
variety of styles and usage conventions. Although it is not, strictly
speaking, more or less correct to use one set of style guidelines or
another, it seems better and less confusing to stick with one set. The
early editing efforts on the World English Bible resulted in some
variations in style from place to place, so this section is an attempt
to state what we are going to move towards as we finish editing. In
most cases, we select the convention that is least likely to be
misunderstood, rather than the conventions most common in a particular
region. We lean towards a more technical and logical style, rather than
common American literary style. Rather than trying to customize
punctuation to American and British (really almost everywhere outside
of America) conventionslike we do with spelling, we are choosing one
set of conventions that are a mix of international rules and trying to
be consistent about their use.
In lists, commas are included between elements of the list and before the final “and” in the list, like “Sham, Ham, and Japeth”.
Although at one time, the typographical convention was to always put
a comma or period (full stop) inside of a final quotation mark, at
least in America, we prefer to use
the convention of doing so only when that punctuation really belongs as
part of the quoted text, or when the quoted sentence ends at the same
point as the enclosing sentence. Meaning is more important than the
the typography, and the original historical reasons for always putting
period or comma next to a letter instead of between a quote and space
are no longer relevant. (We aren't worried about breaking or
dislocating the small, fragile metal type
commas and periods, which needed a letter next to them to withstand
printing press usage.)
We use typographical (curly) quotation marks in the master copy of the World English Bible.
The first level of a quotation is enclosed with double quote marks.
The second level (a quote within a quote) is enclosed within single
quote marks. Further nesting alternates between double and single quote
marks, up to 5 levels deep. (Anything deeper should probably be
reworded, or quotation marks omitted.) Although older British usage
reverses the single and double quote marks in the series, we don’t
currently plan to make that substitution in the World English Bible
British Edition, mostly because of the risk of messing up on
distinguishing between right single quotes and typographic apostrophes,
which are the same character, and because British usage of double quotation marks at the first level is increasing.
When a new paragraph or poetry stanza starts in the middle of a
quotation, the quotation marks used to open that quotation are repeated
at the beginning of the paragraph without closing them at the end of
the previous paragraph.
The master copy of the World English Bible has the direct words of Jesus Christ marked so that they may optionally be printed in red letters (or some other way). This markup is independent of where quotation marks go, since it stops and restarts at verse markers and some other markup.
Regardless of the file format used, quotation marks are considered
part of the text of the World English Bible, not something to be
generated from markup.
Footnote and crossreference note markers will be placed at the end of the word or phrase that they pertain to, and outside of adjacent punctuation.
We use em dashes to set off some parenthetical phrases or indicate
uncompleted sentences. Although style consensus is not unanimous on
this in the world, we use m-dashes without spaces around them. When
converting for display on devices that only handle fixed-width fonts,
these might be better doubled or converted to two normal dashes, but
the master copy will only have one m-dash without spaces around it.
The World English Bible is at eBible.org/web, webible.org, or WorldEnglishBible.org. The World English Bible: Messianic Edition, also known as the Hebrew Names Version, is available at eBible.org/hnv, hnvbible.org, or WorldEnglishBible.org/webme. The World English Bible British Edition (which uses Australian/British/International spelling) is at eBible.org/webbe/, or just eBible.org/be for people who want to tweet the URL or http://www.WorldEnglishBible.org/eng-webbe/ for people who want to type longer URLs. Pointers to where to buy paper copies are at http://eBible.org/buy.htm.
1. You can pray for everyone who works on it, that they would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and correctly handle God’s Holy Word, and that God would abundantly provide everything needed for this work.
2. You can become financial partners in this investment in God's Kingdom.
This FAQ is maintained by Michael Paul Johnson. This page is kept at http://ebible.org/web/webfaq.htm.
[Contents] [The World English Bible]