Quoting from the King James Bible

I’m 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 kingjamesbibleonline.org 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?

Comments

  • SphinxCameronSphinxCameron Southern Escarpment Hill Country ✭✭

    Here's a thought. Use end notes, or a preface.

     

    In either case you can let the reader know the source of the biblical quotes.

     

    With the end note scenario, each quote is numbered and referenced at the back of the work (i.e.: specific chapter and verse for each quote).


    KomodoCracker wrote:

    I’m 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 kingjamesbibleonline.org 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?



    KomodoCracker wrote:

    I’m 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 kingjamesbibleonline.org 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?


     

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    Well, you're in little danger, since there was no copyright as we know it in 1611. So you're legal.

     

    Now, if the character goes around spouting KJV verses and the reader might reasonably think that the character made the line up, then you might be plagiarizing, a moral and academic failure, in which case a footnote or endnote (Book Chapter:Verse KJV) would be appropriate (i.e. "Romans 6:23 KJV").

     

    Now, the KJV Bible is a special case since it is arguably the most common book in the English language and it's tough to cite from it without someone recognizing it. People in this day and age who are NOT quoting from the KJV Bible do not usually say things like "Go thou and sin no more" or "Verily, I say unto thee, thou art called Peter." I have exaggerated the archaic words and usage slightly, so as to make the point, but the casual reader will almost certainly read those and say, "That came from the Bible -- the really old Shakespeare-sounding version."

     

    It's not uncommon to see writers make a vague allusion to the KJV without mentioning it... "Suffer the children," he said, rolling his eyes.... "Out of the mouths of babes," she said, staring at her precocious child... "Whatsoever a man shall sow," he said, shrugging ... So if common usage is an indication, it's no big deal to quote the KJV rather freely.

     

    Those would be cases where there's little danger of someone missing the allusion. On the other hand, if it were a more obscure case, such as Luke's mention in Acts that "we fetched a compass" (meaning that the ship turned in a complete circle, driven by the storm) a casual reader might have trouble distinguishing it from, say, Shakespeare. The KJV Bible and its Jacobian English was translated in the same period (1611) as Shakespeare's greatest works -- Hamlet was published in 1603, and Macbeth in 1623, to give two examples.

     

    In that case, one might wish to give chapter and verse.

     

    In general, there's little worry that someone will get it wrong, however, another option is to have your character show off by citing chapter and verse:

     

    -- "From thence, we fetched a compass"

    -- "You what?"

    --"You know, like in the Bible -- Acts 28:13, KJV. It means we went in a circle."

    --"Oh. you shoulda said so, smart-aleck."

     

    ("Go and sin no more" -- John 8:11 KJV, Jesus speaking to the woman caught in adultery; ""And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter," -- Matt. 16:18 KJV, Jesus speaking to Simon Peter; "And from thence we fetched a compass," Acts 28:13)

     

    Hope that helps.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    I should also mention that there are "Bible Purists" who will insist on full documentation of all citations, to the point of numbering the clauses as a,b,c, etc. i.e.

     

    "For the wage of sin is death" [Romans 6:23a]

     

    (the complete verse is "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord")

     

    It is my humble opinion that someone that technical about specific clauses may have missed the point.

  • In the UK, the University of Cambridge has the privilege of publishing King James' Bible (KJB). I have a copy. Whenever I quote a passage I add (KJB book title chapter:verse). I have never heard of fees to be paid  for such quotations. I might be wrong.

  • Thank you all very much, especially Skoob_Ym who explained it in a way I can understand. I now feel confident I did it right the few occasions my character quotes the bible.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    Oddly enough, until about 100 years ago or so, the two books likely to be found in nearly every home in The United States (that had any books at all) were the King James Version of the Bible and The Antiquities of the Jews, by Flavius Josephus (the 1523 translation). Both books were printed widely from Gutenberg's time onward.

     

    The Bible was seen as the sole guide to spiritual and moral matters, and Josephus was seen as a good contemporary history to illuminate the historical passages of the Bible. The differences between them (The Herodian problem, the Quirinian problem) were held to be of little import, as the Bible was given priority in those matters.

     

    Just a slightly nerdy footnote there for the curious...


  • Skoob_Ym a écrit :

    Oddly enough, until about 100 years ago or so, the two books likely to be found in nearly every home in The United States (that had any books at all) were the King James Version of the Bible and The Antiquities of the Jews, by Flavius Josephus (the 1523 translation). Both books were printed widely from Gutenberg's time onward.

     


    In our description of the US Protestant culture, it is said that the names of the members of the family were entered in the blank pages of the family Bible reserved for this usage, the dates of their births and eventually those of their deaths.

     

    In France, a Roman Catholic country, people seldom had a Bible. Instead we had personal missals (missels) generally given for Holy Communion at 12. This collection of texts followed the liturgical calendar. Traditionally these books were bilingual with Latin in the left column and the corresponding French in the right column.

     

  • As Skoob said there is no copyright for KJV. But all others versions there are and you're limited in how many verses you can quote from them. But as he said just make sure to add the verse and chapter etc. If there is a copyright in KJV it's usually for maps or certain artwork.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    potetjp wrote:

    Skoob_Ym a écrit :

    Oddly enough, until about 100 years ago or so, the two books likely to be found in nearly every home in The United States (that had any books at all) were the King James Version of the Bible and The Antiquities of the Jews, by Flavius Josephus (the 1523 translation). Both books were printed widely from Gutenberg's time onward.

     


    In our description of the US Protestant culture, it is said that the names of the members of the family were entered in the blank pages of the family Bible reserved for this usage, the dates of their births and eventually those of their deaths.

     

    In France, a Roman Catholic country, people seldom had a Bible. Instead we had personal missals (missels) generally given for Holy Communion at 12. This collection of texts followed the liturgical calendar. Traditionally these books were bilingual with Latin in the left column and the corresponding French in the right column.

     


    True. I have seen many such "Family Bibles" and even relatively small bibles for personal use often have pages for vital statistics. In some regions, the Family Bible has even served as an informal token of inheritance, since the Bible and its record would pass from father to eldest son, and on down the family line.

     

    I have in my possession a Bible that once belonged to my father. When I die, I intend to pass it on to my great-nephew, who has my father's first and last name.

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