Fox Entertainment acquires Beliefnet was all over last week’s news. One not-covered piece of News Corporation’s involvment was its other holdings. Namely, they own HarperCollins, who publishes the HarperCollins Study Bible (the official Society of Biblical Literature edition) as well as a range of theological works. In turn, HarperCollins owns the label Zondervan, the parachurch, evangelical omnipublisher that puts out everything from Bible versions to The Purpose Driven Life.
So, News Corp owns Fox owns HarperCollins owns Zondervan. Might this imply that if I have a problem with News Corp or Fox that I might want to reconsider whether or not I use my Zondervan NRSV Bible? The next time I have to purchase a study Bible, should I look into Nelson or Oxford instead?
The larger question involved is over the Biblical text and copyright. Should a Christian be interested in copyright-free editions of the Bible? Initially, I’d say yes.
Should we impose legal restrictions on the sharing of the Word? Initially, I’d say no.
Many Bibles do have “license agreements” bound up with them. If Bibles were without licenses and without copyright, would we have (to borrow from Cory Doctorow) fewer Bibles? Fewer versions? Less evangelism? Bible translation and evangelism comes out of a love for God and a desire to know and share God’s love with all people, not from an enterprising corporation with a bottom line as its concern.