Understanding copyright of personal greek translation work?

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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Understanding copyright of personal greek translation wo

Post by Jonathan Robie » January 18th, 2016, 11:27 am

Tim Evans wrote:Does this mean you think there are no discoveries between 1904 and now that are relevant for todays bible translation work? (By relevant, I mean relevant in that they might affect how we produce the english text?)

If there have been discoveries that do affect the greek in a way that we would alter how we produce the english text, then wouldn't it be good to have an unencumbered greek version that can be freely used today, without limitations, for all forms of publishing and study?
A couple of caveats: this is not my expertise, and if we get very far into textual criticism and it starts to spark controversy, I'll have to freeze the thread. But let's give it a shot.

There are differences between modern critical editions that affect translation, not just between Nestle 1904 and the modern critical editions. On the whole, I think these differences among modern critical editions are probably much more significant than the differences between the Nestle 1904 and the NA 27. I'd really need a list of the differences between the Nestle 1904 and NA 27 to be able to say to what extent they affect translations.

You refer to "discoveries" that affect the Greek. How many of the manuscripts that are significant for establishing the original text were not known to Nestle in 1904? I don't know the answer to that question, I suspect there are people here who do. My impression is that the biggest differences are due to the way various critical editions weigh the texts that were already available to Nestle in 1904, and that NA 28 is broadly similar to Nestle 1904.

One of the strengths of the SBLGNT is that its critical apparatus is geared toward pointing out text critical differences that affect an English translation, focusing on differences that are:
Likely to be represented in an English translation. The KJV, of course, uses a more Byzantine Greek source. The NIV and NA do not. Several other NT translations (ESV, NLT, NET, etc.) actually have their own underlying Greek text with some degree of difference from the NA27, most of the divergences in those would also be accounted for with readings given in the SBLGNT. This range of information gives the person preaching/teaching/exegeting the passage familiarity with options their pupils or parishioners may have represented in their translations.

Given the "spectrum" of the editions, the variant info might quickly point out some more interesting variants. If the SBLGNT agrees with Westcott and Hort, Tregelles, and NIV/NA but disagrees with Robinson-Pierpont, it is likely a pretty standard difference with the Byzantine text. But if the SBLGNT's chosen reading is only present in Robinson-Pierpont or Tregelles then it might be more interesting and worth a deeper look into the specialist-oriented materials such as the UBS or NA apparatuses, technical commentaries such as ICC or Word Biblical Commentary, the Editio Critica Maior, Tischendorf, Comfort & Barrett, and the like.
So one way to produce a translation would be to use the Nestle 1904, referring to the SBLGNT apparatus for "interesting" variants that might affect translation choices. On the other hand, I doubt that either the German Bible Society or the SBL would tell you that you can't use their text for a freely licensed English translation.

I doubt that crowdsourcing a critical text using a Wiki would work out as well. For one thing, there are strongly divergent opinions on how to choose the best reading, and widely different levels of expertise.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;

Tim Evans
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Re: Understanding copyright of personal greek translation wo

Post by Tim Evans » January 19th, 2016, 5:17 am

All of these are good points, but you may be convincing me that these may be even more reason for it.

As far as I can tell, I suspect—based on some things I have seen from bible societies in mailing lists— that even a simple list of the differences between the 1904 and now, would be deemed a breech of copyright (they apparently don't like anything online that would allow you to reconstruct their latest edition).

Given the fact there would likely be heated debates on some point, be an argument for it, it would allow people to find a public place the differences, see the ones that are unimportant, important but agreed upon, and important but hotly disputed. Assuming people can politely and constructively debate these things in an open way, wouldn't this be invaluable for us all?

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