[sword-devel] Versification/Encoding Issues

Mike Hart just_mike_y at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 7 14:58:14 MST 2009

I'm working on several bibles to get them into Sword Format (ultimately into public domain, or as close to  PD as possible), and I've got a few unresolved issues.

Can someone point me to the how-to that covers these topics? 

Issue number 1 - Versification standards

One Bible I'm working on is The Jewish School & Family Bible, Abraham Benisch, ~1852 


This bible has Jewish versification. For example Hosea Chapter 1 has only 9 verses. JSFB Hos 2:1,2 are similar in content to the KJV Hos 1:10-11 . What to do about that?  Change the versification? How do I make this sword compatible?

Issue number 2 - Book Order

For the text mentioned above, when I'm working on bibles with book order that doesn't match the KJV, Can I leave the order as they are in order to encode into VPL? into OSIS? That is, will sword front ends pick up a nonstandard order and reorder it for parallel display, or is it up to me?

Issue number 3 - Missing Verses

If I get to a verse That simply isn't present in the translation I'm working on, do I need to leave an empty verse row in VPL? in OSIS?

Issue number 4 - Spelling mistakes in the text

In a circa 1950 U.S. English Bible (*), I came accross spelling that is just wrong for English : "spirts blood" instead of "spurts blood" in the original text and in the OCR copy, is correcting such a spelling mistake encouraged or discouraged? In this case, the spelling "S P I R T"  is used 3 times: twice in Lev 6:27 and in Isa 63:3--in place of "sprinkle" in the KJV, so it appears intentionally  spelled that way. However, I don't see any theological reason for it, just the translator's quirky spelling.  Is it OK to do minor spelling corrections like this when encoding? 

(*) This is from the "Bible In Living English" which I believe was published without copyright in the 1950's. However, copyright is claimed by the Jehovah's witnesses 25 years after the death of the Author. 

In the Watchtower copy I possess, the Author in in his own words writes about his work's free distribution in the preface (which implies public domain), which means the work had been released before he died. When you copyright a book that that is already in P.D., you MAY own the formatting and the page numbering, but not the text itself.

It is my belief that similar to the Bible in Basic English, in the 1950's, if you didn't claim a copyright in writing when you originally published the  work in the U.S., the work is public domain, and that can't be undone later.  Steven's preface seems to confirm this, but I need to do more research into the history of the text and the law before any publication.  Contacting the Watchtower is true to it's name.  It's easy to get missionaries to come visit, but finding a legal department inside that tower is still eluding me. 

While the Watchtower published this book in 1972, up to his death in 1957 Steven Byington was NOT a Jehovah's Witness. He attended a United Methodist Church and had pretty harsh words about the New World Translation when it first came out. He apparently helped edit the NWT or had conversations with the Watchtower after the NWT was originally published that helped the translation correct some early errors. 


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