Last night I couldn’t get to sleep because I was thinking about the Nag Hammadi and Book of Judas biblical texts. I’ve been thinking for a long time on a way to do something with them, perhaps writing a book that comments on them, or something like that. But last night I stayed up till midnight doing nothing but copying and pasting them from web sites into word and then formatting them to be similar to what you see in the Bible.
So far I’ve done the Gospels and the Apocalypses and the Acts of Peter. I don’t know what will come of this, I don’t have any idea what copyright law has to say about translations. Obviously the texts would be public domain due to how old they are, but are their translations? Do the people who translate the texts have rights to the English versions? Or can I use them freely as long as credit is given? I’m not really sure on the technicalities of these, so what I might do is just collect the texts together in a single book, publish a single copy for myself and use it like I would use the Bible.
Right now I’m doing basic formatting… I’m making sure they are all in a small 10-point Times New Roman font, in standard formats (indentations and what have you), two columns, with a line between the column like you see in modern bibles. I also have the title in a large bold arial font, and I have verse beginnings in bold as well, though I think modern bibles tend to use arial for that as well.
I haven’t really done much to add chapters, verses, or section titles like we see in the bible past what the translators and original writers have done. I’m not really sure how to handle this, so I’m going to go back after I’ve gotten it all in a book and read it all to see where breaks could go. One problem I foresee is a book like the Gospel of Thomas, which is just a list of sayings. Each ones has been numbered, but there doesn’t seem to be logic to them all, some of them are extremely long which would make me want to add more verses to them, and some of them are too short to be chapters.
It is probably this type of stuff, in addition to the difficulty some people had reading these texts, that omitted them from the Bible. I also then plan on going back through to non Nag Hammadi texts such as Enoch and putting them in this bible as well. The idea behind the whole thing is to get together a companion for the Bible of texts that for some reason the Church has decided to chastise. Maybe in each one give a history of the book and ponderings as to why the text might have been omitted from the Bible.
Then, once done I would take it and pass it around to church goers that I know to see what they say about it, and if they like it print them copies. If it proves to be extremely popular, perhaps I can go on and then sell it to the public and see how copyright works with translations. It is a good idea though, and I think is long overdue.