SBL Greek New Testament

HT: David Haslam

Open Scriptures announces the availability of the SBL Greek New Testament.

This is a first-ever freely downloadable modern critical edition of the Greek New Testament with apparatus.

Congratulations and thanks are due to the many individuals and organizations that have worked to make this possible. The edition is available for Logos Software, as plain text, XML and soon as PDF. Haslam has put in a request for a SWORD module which will be a big blessing for those unable to afford commercial software.

Learn more:


14 thoughts on “SBL Greek New Testament

  1. Theophrastus says:

    From the license terms:

    The SBLGNT may not be used in a Greek-English diglot without a license, regardless of whether such work will be sold or given away.

    This rather sharply limits the use of the SBLGNT. You can use it and redistribute it (for free) unless you include English translations of the verses too.

    For example, many, many, many BBB posts and comments include the Greek text of the Bible and then one or more English translations. This would appear to be forbidden by the above licensing term.

    Not only is this an absurd restriction — but at least in some cases it appears to be more restrictive than Fair Use provisions (which cannot be “licensed away”) existing in US copyright law.

    I would have much rather seen the SBLGNT be copyright under Creative Commons copyright terms.

  2. Rick Brannan says:

    Keep your eyes on for a link to the SWORD version, I think it will be posted soon. An OSIS (XML) version is also forthcoming.

    As to the question on Greek-English diglots, the license is pretty clear about what’s OK. Posting in a BBB post is OK, even with an English translation. Writing a commentary with SBLGNT is OK. The general thrust is toward printed items. Printing a book with SBLGNT on one page, English translation on the other; that needs a license.

  3. EricW says:

    Can it really be called an apparatus if all it lists is where and how its text differs from the texts of other critical editions, but not what mss. have the various variant readings? I.e., it’s basically via its apparatus a compendium of five different critical texts – were WH, RP, NIV, Tregelles, and NA/UBS to be listed in separate columns side-by-side with Holmes, we’d have a hexapla, but that doesn’t seem the same to me as having an apparatus.

  4. Theophrastus says:

    Rick — here’s the thing — the license does not define what it considers to be a diglot.

    It specifies verse counts or fractions of total text for other contexts — but not diglots.

    It is not clear what threshold counts as a diglot: a verse? a chapter of a NT book? a short NT book? a long NT book? The entire NT sans one verse?

    Here’s an example to explain my point: consider the JPS Torah Commentary volumes. As you may know, these contain a book of the Bible in English, Hebrew, and then most of the page is devoted to commentary with many, many appendices and excurses. Now if I wanted to publish a similarly formatted book for a NT book, would that qualify as a diglot or not? The license could be interpreted as forbidding this.

    Similarly, there is nothing that is “clear” about the license if any verse is published both in Greek and English. There is no “minimum threshold” as to what constitutes a diglot.

  5. Peter Kirk says:

    This is excellent news! UBS, watch your step, as your edition will very likely quickly lose its prestige simply because of your failure to make it freely available, except through a German language only website which is of course ridiculous.

    Theophrastus, consider this Webster’s definition of a diglot: “a bilingual edition of a book”. A brief quotation with a translation is not a book so not a diglot. Your diglot with commentary is a book so you would probably need a licence, at least it would be better to ask to be on the safe side.

  6. Rick Brannan says:

    Theophrastus — The diglot provision has printed Greek-English diglot editions in mind. I would also say that would extend to a set of PDF files representing a Greek-English diglot edition of the NT distributed on a site like, intended to represent a printed edition. We’re using “diglot” in the traditional and normal way it is used in publishing.

  7. EricW says:

    So when will Dr. Holmes prepare the English translation of his GNT so it can be published as a diglot and join his APOSTOLIC FATHERS?

  8. David Ker says:

    As a commercial diglot is coming out, the license means to exclude diglot editions that might compete with that. I can respect that. There are also sorts of “what about?” cases that might pop up. I know as a consultant or teacher I might wish to produce a diglot with Portuguese, or with Nyungwe, or an interlinear. But usually only for classroom or translation office use.

    I think that by making it available as PDF (eventually) and txt, xml and SWORD already, they are showing a clear desire to make their text as open as possible including remixing.

    By the way, any time you open software like Logos or Accordance or SWORD-based software you are creating on the fly diglots, triglots and beyond.

  9. Rick Brannan says:

    Hi David.

    You’ll note that the license only restricts Greek-English diglots and actually says: “Diglots containing the SBLGNT and a language other than English may be produced for free distribution,” which covers your cases with Portuguese and Nyungwe.

  10. Theophrastus says:

    Rick — I understand the distinction you are making between a website that serves up Greek and English versions of the Bible, and an actual printed edition. But, unfortunately, that distinction is not in the text of the license.

    There is also no size limitation. I would say that a diglot is a whole book, but I can imagine someone else saying it is a pamphlet, or even a single page with one chapter of text.

    Finally, diglot as it is normally used means two languages. Peter quoted above the “bilingual” requirement.

    So, it seems, a simple way around this is to produce a triglot — someone simply prints a book with English, Latin, and Greek. That will be even more useful than a diglot and will neatly avoid the literal license terms you give (although it clearly violates the “spirit” of the license.)

    My point is that the actual text of the license doesn’t say what you seem to indicate it says.

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