New English Translation

New English Translation
New English Translation
Full name: New English Translation
Abbreviation: NET
Complete Bible published: 2005
Textual basis: Self-described "transparent":[1]

Inter-dependent textual basis as evidenced in extensive text-notes. NT: Novum Testamentum Graece 27th edition. OT: Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia with Septuagint influence.

Translation type: Mid-range functional or dynamic equivalence prevalent in the text, with formal equivalent renderings very often given in the footnotes.[1]
Reading level: Middle School
Publisher: Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C.
Copyright status: © 2005 Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C.
Religious affiliation: "interdenominational and evangelical" Protestant (66 book canon)[1]
Online address:, NET Bible
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The Bible in English
Old English (pre-1066)
Middle English (1066–1500)
Early Modern English (1500–1800)
Modern Christian (1800–)
Modern Jewish (1853–)
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The New English Translation (NET Bible) is a free, "completely new"[1] on-line English translation of the Bible, " with 60,932 translators’ notes"[1] sponsored by the Biblical Studies Foundation and published by Biblical Studies Press.


History and Textual Basis

The New English Translation, like the New International Version, New Jerusalem Bible and the New American Bible, is a completely new translation of the Bible, not an update or revision of an older one (such as the English Standard Version of 2001/7, which is a revision of the Revised Standard Version of 1946/71, itself a revision of the American Standard Version of 1901, itself a revision of the English Revised Version of 1881, which was a revision of the King James Version of 1611, with the revisions compiled with compared to the newest and best discoveries of ancient manuscripts currently available [such as the Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran, incorporated into the RSV and later translations] and developments in textual criticism [such as the developments pioneered by Westcott and Hort incorporated into the ERV and later translations] contemporaneously with each additional step in the revision process, while maintaining a similar linguistic style).

The translation and extensive notes were undertaken by more than twenty biblical scholars who worked directly from the best currently available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts.[1] The NET Bible was initially conceived at an annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in November 1995 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The translation project originally started as an attempt to provide a digital version of a modern English translation over the Internet and on CD-ROM without cost for the user: "The NET Bible project was commissioned to create a faithful Bible translation that could be placed on the Internet, downloaded for free, and used around the world for ministry."[1] Many of those involved in the project's initial discussions eventually became part of the translation team. The translation itself claims to be non-sectarian, "inter-denominational" and evangelical.

The translation is most notable for an immense number of lengthy footnotes (which often explain its textual translation decision), its open translation process, its availability on the Internet (both during its beta process and in its final form), and its open copyright permitting free downloads.

Copyright status

The NET Bible's approach towards copyright comprises a full copyright license[1][2] which is explained in its "Ministry First" statement,[3] both of which emphasize its openness and freedom. The publishers claim that "after 10 years, the NET Bible is still the only major modern translation that can be downloaded for free in its entirety and used seamlessly in presentations and documents."[3] However, as of October 2010, the NET Bible's copyright statement is over 1500 words long, and contains different conditions for generic copyright, diglots and bible quotations in multiple formats, including commercial and non-commercial publications.[2]

The NET Bible's approach to copyright is self-summarised as:

"The Bible is God’s gift to humanity – it should be free."[1]

In "Copyright Innovations – Toward a New Model," the Ministry First position statement makes at least four additional important clarifications:

  • We still don’t fully like the copyright notice for the NET Bible, but in our litigious world it remains a challenge...
  • We believe that 1 Tim 5:17-18 (the author has the right to be paid) and Lev 23:22 (allow the poor and foreigner free access) can be simultaneously satisfied far better with a new Internet model...
  • We want all authors to know that the NET Bible is a safe choice.[4]
  • It is time for ministry to be more free – and for a Bible which puts ministry first....Let us know how we can better serve your needs.

However, these statements do not form part of the copyright notice itself, so their legal value is unclear.

Rick Mansfield describes these permissions as "[they] basically take a “YES” position in regard to permission to use the NET Bible in publications or on the internet for “the vast majority of requests.”[5] Michael Paul Johnson's Bible FAQ at the World English Bible site is more specific, saying "You may download a free copy for your personal use at Copyrighted." The "Copyrighted" category in the FAQ classes the NET bible with most other English translations mentioned, except for the World English Bible, which is described as public domain.[6] Peter Kirk's review of the NET Bible copyright notes that the Open English Bible (OEB) is "under a licence enabling the maximum reuse, remixing and sharing without requiring the payment of royalties or the obtaining of permission from copyright holders". The review contrasts this with the NET Bible copyright by quoting a letter by Russell Allen stating "On the (Free Software-based) definition above, the NET Bible is not free. I cannot take the NET Bible, make changes and redistribute my changed version without permission".[7]

Functional and formal translation

In the preface to the first edition, W. Hall Harris III, Ph.D., "The NET Bible Project Director" claims that the NET Bible solves the problem of dynamic vs. formal equivalence:

[T]he translators and editors used the notes to give a translation that was formally equivalent, while placing a somewhat more functionally [or dynamically] equivalent translation in the text itself to promote better readability and understandability. The longstanding tension between these two different approaches to Bible translation has thus been fundamentally solved. [emphases added][1]

The promotional copy for the NET Bible advertises the advantage of this feature in the following way: "The translators’ notes make the original languages far more accessible, allowing you to look over the translator’s shoulder at the very process of translation."[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Preface to the NET Bible First Edition
  2. ^ a b NET Bible - "Ministry First"
  3. ^ Emphasis in original.
  4. ^ Review: The NET Bible
  5. ^ Frequently Asked Questions about the Bible
  6. ^ Open content licensing and the NET Bible
  7. ^

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