Users of the NET Bible have often requested a smaller, easier to carry edition with larger font sizes for better readability. Likewise many pastors and teachers using the NET Bible have requested a reader’s version with just the text and minimal notes for rapid verse lookup and public reading of extensive passages. Additionally, others have commented that the Translators’ Notes are sometimes distracting when reading for devotional purposes because of their scholarly depth. Many have asked for a version without all of the notes for scripture memorization and to give to young believers. While we love all of the 60,932 Translators’ Notes in the NET Bible First Edition, the NET Bible team also wanted an edition appropriate for everyday devotional and reflective reading. The Reader’s Edition was created to meet all these needs. We’ve made the font size larger, created 7,722 shortened notes to make it slimmer and lighter to carry, but also provided thicker paper and wider margins for notes. Smythe-sewn leather bindings were once again selected to provide durability. Without the inclusion of extensive notes, it is easier to appreciate the quality of the faithfulness of the NET Bible translation itself which we spent 8 years carefully editing and improving.
The NET Bible is an entirely new translation of the Bible. It was created to answer the global need for a Bible translation that can be distributed without cost on the Internet and be freely used in ministry, thus the NET part of the name comes from the Internet. Not only can you download the NET Bible and the Reader’s Edition free from http://www.bible.org, we have licensed the NET Bible text without royalty to all publishers of Bible study software – a historical first.
We give it away because our goal is to provide Trustworthy Bible Study Resources for free. “Ministry First” is a principle that guides all we do.
In the year 2006, when this Reader’s Edition is being released, bible.org is the world’s largest internet provider of trustworthy biblical resources, serving over 15 million people globally and reaching more than 175 countries every day. Your NET Bible is supported by a website ministry with thousands of materials to help you on your journey. There are community forums where you can ask questions, Men’s and Women’s Ministry areas, a Spiritual Formation focus area, online educational programs, and incredible Bible study tools. New resources are added daily, check the www.bible.org homepage for the latest. We’ve also created a portal to provide tailored resources specifically for users of the Reader’s Edition. Our prayer is that you will benefit from this edition of the NET Bible and then pass along what you learn to others.
The NET Bible is a new translation of the Bible with 60,932 translators’ notes. More than 25 scholars – experts in original biblical languages, biblical theology, and interpretation – worked directly from the best Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts currently available. The NET Bible was not funded by any particular denomination or church. This has positively impacted the content: Translators and editors were free to follow the text and translate as faithfully and accurately as possible without any pressure to make the text read a certain way or conform to a particular doctrinal statement. The translators and editors of the NET Bible were responsible and accountable to the universal body of Christ, the church throughout the world, through publication on the Internet and free distribution of the text. The questions, comments, and feedback received from their brothers and sisters in Christ have been examined very carefully, and the translation and notes reevaluated in response. This dynamic process has yielded a Bible that is faithful to the original text of the Bible, yet valuable and acceptable to Bible readers everywhere.
One of the goals of the NET Bible with the complete set of translators’ notes is to allow the general public – as well as Bible students, pastors, missionaries, and Bible translators – to know why the translators of the NET Bible rendered a phrase or verse in a particular way. Many times the translators made decisions based on grammatical, lexical, historical, and textual data not readily available to English-speaking students of the Bible. These decisions and data are now readily accessible through the translators’ notes. Produced as the translators and editors did their work, the notes are an extended dialogue between translator and reader about the alternatives for translation, options for interpretation, and finer nuances usually lost in translation. Never before in the history of the Bible has a translation been published which includes notes explaining why the preferred translation was chosen and what the other alternatives are. In short, the NET Bible is different from all the Bible translations that have come before it. It is truly a new departure in the way Bible translations are presented to the general public.
There are four kinds of notes employed in the NET Bible: “text-critical notes” [tc], “translators’ notes” [tn], “study notes” [sn], and “map notes” [map]. The “text-critical notes” [tc] discuss alternate readings found in various manuscripts and groups of manuscripts of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament. These notes can indicate readings that are historically important, exegetically significant, or accepted by the translation that are different from standard critical editions. The “translators’ notes” [tn] are the most numerous. They explain the rationale for the translation and give alternative translations, interpretive options, and other technical information. Notes introduced by “Or” give translations that are regarded as more or less equally viable alternatives to the translation used in the text unless accompanied by additional discussion in the note. Notes introduced by Heb, Aram, or Grk give a simple translation that approximates formal equivalence – somewhat akin to a literal translation – to the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek text. Translators’ notes are also used to indicate major lexical, syntactical, and exegetical options for a given passage. In such cases the form of the note may vary, but in general the major options will be listed and in most cases a brief evaluation is included. The “study notes” [sn] are explanatory notes intended for the nonspecialist engaged in reading or study of the Bible. This category includes comments about historical or cultural background, explanation of obscure phrases or brief discussions of context, discussions of the theological point made by the biblical author, cross-references and references to Old Testament quotations or allusions in the New Testament, or other miscellaneous information helpful to the modern reader. The “map notes” [map] indicate where the particular geographical location mentioned in the text can be found in the maps included in the NET Bible. Preceding the maps is an index which contains every site on the maps, although the maps do not note every biblical site. You can use the full NET Bible online at www.bible.org/netbible and download a free copy from www.bible.org/netdownload.
What you have in your hands is the NET Bible Reader’s Edition, which is the most recent NET Bible printing. The New Testament was released as a first beta version in three separate printings in March, April, and June of 1998. It was then revised and released again in October of 1998, also as a first beta edition. After this time, the Old Testament was edited and released as a first beta version, along with still another revision of the New Testament. This First Beta Edition of the entire NET Bible with both Old and New Testaments was completed and e-mailed to the printer just after 2 a.m. on September 11, 2001. Editing work continued, and the Second Beta Edition was released to the printer on September 2, 2003. After an additional two years of public use, extensive comments from users, and further improvements from the NET Bible editors, the First Edition of the NET Bible was released to the printer on August 30, 2005. One result of the extensive notes in the NET Bible is the substantial size of the printed product. Many readers requested a smaller format which would be easier to carry. Other readers enjoyed the notes for in-depth study but wanted a simpler format for devotional reading. The Reader’s Edition is designed to meet these and many other needs of Bible readers. The translation of the Old Testament and New Testament is exactly the same as the NET Bible First Edition, and the same maps are included here in the Reader’s Edition.
The Reader’s Edition contains many notes to aid the reader, but they are much more limited than those in the NET Bible First Edition. These notes do many of the same things but with much less information. The Reader’s Edition notes give alternative translations, indicated by the word “Or,” and they give simple translations which approximate formal equivalence to the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek text (marked by Heb, Aram, or Grk respectively) just as “translators’ notes” do, but there is no extended discussion on why one particular translation was chosen over the alternative. The notes indicate major text-critical issues as “text-critical notes” do, but there are fewer problems noted and there is no discussion of manuscripts or the reasoning behind the reading adopted for the translation. The notes indicate cross-references and references to Old Testament quotations or allusions in the New Testament and offer explanatory comments like “study notes” do, but there are fewer notes of this type and there is no extended explanation. As in the NET Bible First Edition, New Testament quotations from the Old Testament are indicated by a combination of boldface and italic type. Less direct allusions to Old Testament passages are indicated by italic type only. In both cases a note gives the Old Testament reference. Lastly, there are no “map notes” in the Reader’s Edition.
In short, the NET Bible Reader’s Edition is the same translation as the NET Bible. It has the same maps as the NET Bible. The difference is in the notes, which are condensed to allow for a Bible of a different size which suits a different purpose. The NET Bible with all 60,932 translators’ notes is available online for free at www.bible.org. We encourage you to visit our website, read the NET Bible with full notes, and download a free copy for use on your computer for in-depth study. Many students of the Word will want a copy of both the NET Bible and the NET Bible Reader’s Edition as they serve different but essential purposes.
We created our ministry, bible.org, to be a source of trustworthy Bible study resources for the world, so that everyone could have free access to these high quality materials. In 1995, the second year of Bible.org’s ministry, it became clear that a free online Bible would be needed on the Bible.org website since copyrighted Bibles cannot be quoted in a collection of online studies without permission, and this permission is very expensive to obtain. The NET Bible project was thus commissioned to create a faithful Bible translation that could be placed on the Internet, downloaded for free, and used around the world for ministry. Now serving individuals in 170 different countries on an average day, Bible.org is the largest Bible study resource on the Internet with over 40,000 pages of Bible study materials currently available online for free. Also included are topical forums (www.bible.org/forum) where visitors to the site can interact, share, and grow together. All this is done to support local church ministries and to build an effective online community of believers. Our passion is to see every person become mature in Christ, competent to teach and train others.
Bible.org is guided by the principle of “Ministry First.” We believe the model described in Leviticus 23:22 is applicable to us: “When you gather in the harvest of your land, you must not completely harvest the corner of your field, and you must not gather up the gleanings of your harvest. You must leave them for the poor and the foreigner.” Our “crop” is a Bible translation, and we desire to follow the Bible’s teaching with regard to the distribution of this crop to those who would not normally be able to access it. Even though some for-profit Bible publishers have allowed Bible societies to print and give away millions of Bibles, the total amount of funds available to all Bible societies and publishers does not come close to meeting the goal of giving a free printed Bible to every one of the two billion people throughout the world who have some ability to read English. This is why we feel so strongly that the NET Bible must not only be available for viewing on the Internet, but also for free downloading and use by everyone, worldwide, for free, forever. This is a cornerstone and guiding principle of our ministry which helps us come closer to fulfilling the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20. Learning and following the Bible’s instructions must apply to Bible translators and publishers as well as Bible students. This is why we offer the NET Bible for free to the world – because we desire to offer Bibles and Bible study resources for free in keeping with biblical principles to those who cannot afford to pay for them.
The Bible has been and continues to be an important book for people all over the world. It is worth considering why this is the case: why people continue to read it for their own benefit, why it continues to be the central component of worship in churches everywhere, why people continue to translate it into different languages, why people disseminate it to as many places and to as many people as possible. One reason is that the Bible is great literature which has the power to speak like few other books can. The words of the psalms, the life of King David, the teachings of Jesus – every part of the Bible has power as literature to speak to people and move them like few other things can. Another reason is that the Bible has a rich history in this world as a book for all people. People of all different races, countries, backgrounds, and beliefs have found the Bible to be a source of comfort and encouragement for them, despite their different circumstances. But most importantly of all, the Bible continues to be an important book for people everywhere because of its message to us.
Despite its diversity, the Bible has a unified and consistent message: The God who created this world wants to have a relationship with the people he created. They have rebelled against him and now stand condemned under his judgment. Because he desires a relationship, God has provided a way for people to come to him and have their condemnation removed. That way is found in Jesus, the one God sent to earth to die on the cross so that all people might have access to him. Through faith in Jesus and trust in him for what he has done through his death, a person can begin a relationship with God and continue to grow in that relationship. The God of the Bible is the God who created the universe, and he desires to have a relationship with you. We encourage you to recognize that the Bible is not merely a book. It is God’s message to us all, and God continues to speak through it today, drawing people to himself through his son Jesus and making them mature in their relationship to him.
The most important translation of the Bible is not from the original languages to English, but from the printed page into your life. It is our prayer that the Bible will first impact you by showing you the way to have a relationship with God and then will change you by showing you how to grow in that relationship.
The NET Bible Project Director
for the Translators, Editors, and Sponsor of the NET Bible