Accessing English Bibles

I hesitate to jump into the discussion about the availability of
contemporary English Bible translations and Cindy's interesting proposal
that yet another translation be prepared as public domain, but I have
had a lot of experience with these matters, and have some strong
opinions, so ...:

Although RSV is still under copyright, the National Council of Churches
has been very generous about permission to distribute, and CCAT has been
able to make it available for free copying, with the only stipulation
that the brief "user agreement" (promising not to make commercial use of
the text without prior permission) be returned to CCAT to be put on
file. I think that RSV can even be obtained, with this stipulation, from
the ONLINE BIBLE. It can also be searched on the ccat.sas gopher here at
Penn (telnet gophers.upenn.edu and choose penn gophers, ccat), although
we have stopped short of allowing it to be copied freely, without first
submitting the signed user agreement.

We have also purchased the right to distribute the NRSV with almost as
much freedom (the user agreement is still crucial, but there is also a
royalty agreement that we must honor), and will be mounting it on the
gopher for searching. Because these are "spare time" activities for most
of us, we have been slow to get everything in place with the NRSV, but
it has recently been released to some of our secondary distributors, and
will begin to be seen more regularly.

Other modern translations may be more difficult to find (see John
Baima's recent posting) and to use with relative freedom, but if either
the NRSV or the RSV will meet the expressed needs, I see no reason
whatsoever to spend the enormous time and energy needed to produce the
desired public domain version. Indeed, I would not be surprised if the
NCC would consider declaring the RSV "freely available" (without the
user agreement requirement) on the networks if they were asked. It is
not their intention to restrict distribution, but they do like to know
that their materials are not being misused (thus the intent of
registering the user agreement). You might want to contact Dr. Van Ek at
the NCC and ask, if this is a matter of great importance for many.

Finally, if you want a project that requires time and energy and offers
significant rewards in the long run, consider organizing a team to
encode the textual variants for the Greek NT. The coding patterns that we
have developed for the LXX/OG in the CATSS project are perfectly
applicable, and would be even more useful if adapted to the new TEI
standards. The resulting files, drawn from all relevant available
textcritical data (not simply from a single published edition), could be
placed in the public domain and made available in a variety of ways.
That would truly be an important labor of sacrifice and devotion!

Bob Kraft, UPenn / CCAT / CATSS