The Library Basement
Reading under ground

German Bible Society hosts free* online works

I am not sure when this started, but the German Bible Society now hosts online versions of several of its texts. This includes:

  • Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia
  • Novum Testamentum Graece (ed. Nestle-Aland), 27th Edition
  • Septuagint (ed. Rahlfs/Hanhart)
  • Vulgate
  • The Luther Bible, 1984 edition
  • The NET Bible

Those last two are not published by GBS but are included anyway. None of the texts appear to include the related text-critical apparatus. They do not appear to have published an API for accessing these texts from other applications.

Finally BHS and NA27 have official online homes. That is good. However the German Bible Society continues to assert copyright over the ancient texts of the Church:

Terms of Use

The online use of all Bibles on this website is free of charge. By using the clipboard you may copy individual texts and paste them into other applications.

However, the complete download of the text is not allowed, nor is it legally licensed. Without the proper written permissions of the rightful owners every other publication of the text, as well as its integration into other materials, is completely forbidden.

As I have stated before, I am of the (legally ignorant) opinion that ancient texts should not be copyrightable. This goes for eclectic editions as well. The only aspect of these texts which could perhaps be copyrightable are the textual apparatuses, but these are fast becoming irrelevant in the computer age.

It is farcical for the German Bible Society to claim to be the "rightful owners" of the Greek New Testament, the Hebrew Bible, the Seputagint, or the Vulgate. Thank you GBS for your continuing work in editing and publishing these editions, but that does not make you the "owners."

The "rightful owners" of these texts are of course their authors and the church. I attempted to contact the biblical authors, the Septuagint translators, Jerome, and Martin Luther for express written permission to redistribute their work, but they are sadly unreachable.

(If you would like to use the NET Bible, I'd recommend the official web app, which has a better user interface than what GBS provides.  You can also download the full text for non-commercial purposes.)

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