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Thread: Legal question about King James Bible

  1. #1
    Writing and oceans, just dive in. msd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012

    Legal question about King James Bible

    I am a new author from Canada and just completed a science fiction novel. One of my characters is a Christian minister from a non-disclosed Christian sect. From time to time, this character quotes from the King James Version of the bible. I used the website to get the exact words.

    I know that I could use this bible version royalty free from the FAQ section, but I’m not clear on some matters.

    Do I need to mention after each verse quoted that it is taken from the King James Bible?

    Should I give credit in the novel that all bible quotes are taken from the King James Bible?

    How do I keep my novel legal?
    Last edited by msd; 10-13-2017 at 04:50 AM.
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  2. #2
    The KJV was translated 1604-1611, and had a prominent 1881 revision. So that translation is very public domain, just as much as if your characters were quoting Shakespeare or Dickens or Grimm, and you don't have to worry about legal repercussions. The Bible itself is public domain, of course, but the various translations may or may not be copyrighted, depending on the details of their creation.

    Character-wise, people who use the KJV (or one of its revisions) will recognize it automatically, and often take it for granted as a "default" Bible translation. So your characters are more likely to comment on the Bible translation being used if it was, say, Douay-Rheims or Knox (which are unlikely to be used by a non-disclosed Christian sect) or a slangy modern version or something (also unlikely to be used). Biblegateway is a good resource to use, and you can read multiple translations in parallel. Many translations are public domain, but not all are likely to be commonly used in your setting. KJV should be pretty safe and easy and won't raise any eyebrows.
    Last edited by lonestarlibrarian; 10-13-2017 at 05:06 AM.

  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    The right earlobe of North America
    As lonestarlib above said, you will have no legal issue with using the KJB. A style issue might arise, however, if you are quoting verses that are relatively obscure. You might want to have your character provide the reference, e.g., "Habakkuk chapter one, verse four, says . . . "


    Addendum: That shot in the dark made me look it up. Habakkuk 1:4 says:

    Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.

    Last edited by blacbird; 10-13-2017 at 08:32 AM.
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