Why I Use the World English Bible (WEB) Version

Corey —  December 18, 2009

       You may have noticed that most of the Bible verses I quote on this website are from the World English Bible (WEB) version. Not too many people are aware of this Bible version, so I thought I should take a couple minutes to let you know why I use it.

What Is the World English Bible?

       The World English Bible is an update of the American Standard Version of 1901, which is in the public domain. It has been edited to conform to the Greek Majority Text New Testament. The World English Bible is also in the public domain, which sets it apart from other revisions of the American Standard Version (like the New American Standard Bible, the Revised Standard Version, and the Amplified Bible) which are under copyright.

Why Does Copyright Matter?

       All modern translations of the Bible are currently under copyright, which means that I cannot post verses from those translations which violate the fair use requirements. Because this website has advertisements, I can’t use any of the modern translations without paying licensing fees.

       I’d run into the same problem if I ever want to publish any books with Bible verses in them. The copyright restrictions would require me to pay licensing fees plus royalties to the translation publishers (like Zondervan). Those fees are quite high and would make it very expensive for me to publish anything.

       The solution is to use a Bible translation that’s in the public domain, meaning there are no copyright restrictions. Generally, only older, out-dated translations are in the public domain – like the King James Version or the American Standard Version. The archaic language of these versions makes it difficult for modern readers to understand the Bible.

       Thanks to the people working on the World English Bible, I can quote all the Bible verses I want from that version without any fear of violating copyright rules. The World English Bible is a modern translation that can be freely copied without written permission from a publisher or payment of royalties.

Is the World English Bible a Good Translation?

       Since it’s relatively unknown, you may wonder if the World English Bible is a good translation. If you’ve read many of the Bible verses I’ve quoted, you’ll realize that they’re quite similar to any other translation you’ll read – especially those based on the American Standard Version (ASV). If you usually read the New American Standard Bible (NASB) or the Amplified Bible, you’ll find that the World English Bible is a very close translation since they’re all based on the ASV.

       The American Standard Version is considered to be a literal translation, and the World English Bible follows suit. It’s not going to read like The Message or the New Living Translation, but you can rely on it for a literal interpretation of the original Bible languages.

       One thing you might find strange is the fact that the World English Bible always translates the proper name of God as “Yahweh”. The KJV generally translates this as “LORD” or “GOD” in either all caps or small caps and the ASV uses “Jehovah”. Scholars generally agree that the tetragrammaton should be rendered “Yahweh” instead of “Jehovah”. Seeing “Yahweh” all the time just takes a little getting used to but it does not change the meaning of the Scriptures.

       If you don’t like the WEB version, you can always click the link under any Scriptures I quote. That link will take you to another website, where you can see those verses quoted in the NIV, KJV, Amplified Bible, NLT, The Message, and the NASB versions. That should just about cover everyone’s preferences.

How Can I Learn More?

       If you have other questions about the World English Bible, you’re best off checking out their website and frequently asked questions section. You should be able to find most of you questions there, and if not, you can e-mail those working on the project.



Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.