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Free Theology Books for the Kindle

SBL's Greek New Testament displayed on the KindleMy new Kindle came in the mail a few days ago. I finally broke down and used some Christmas money to get it. Best purchase EVER!

I have spent the past few days putting books on it. I have not bought any books from Amazon – all the good books are old enough to be free. Here are the best sites to find free books:

  1. Amazon.com – there are a few good books you can find for $0 here. I downloaded G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, the first book I have read cover-to-cover on the Kindle. They did not have Chesterton’s Heretics, so I had to go elsewhere for that. Other books I got from Amazon are Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason; Plato’s  Republic, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, and Timaeus;Aristotle’s Ethics; Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion; Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; Luther’s Concerning Christian Liberty; Aquinas’ Summa, and the complete ESV and HCSB bibles. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can still get yourself all these great books by downloading their Kindle emulator for the PC. That’s how I decided I wanted a Kindle in the first place.
  2. Project Gutenberg – While Amazon has some public domain books for free, they also sell a lot of public domain books. If you don’t know better, you might think you have to buy them. Think again. Project Gutenberg has tons of public domain books formatted for the Kindle. Stuff I got here includes Seneca’s On Benefits; Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot and Brothers Karamazov; Tolstoy’s War and Peace; Nietzsche’s The Antichrist; and the complete KJV Bible.
  3. The Internet Archive – This is a really cool site. They have the text of classic books, but the original title pages and covers are scanned in as images. So I downloaded B.B. Warfield’s own copy of Darwin’s Origin of Species. I also got J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism here. Machen’s book, I am told on good authority by folks at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (where I attend as a seminary student), is a book everyone really ought to read. And now you can because it’s completely free.
  4. Mobipocket Creator – Not a site with books per se, but this is the site that makes the Kindle all worth it. Download this software and you can turn any text, html, Word, or PDF document into a regular Kindle book. That means you’re not limited to the regular layout of a PDF document, which the newest generation of Kindles can read, but you have to zoom-in and scroll around on the page. It’s a real hassle to try to read a book this way. But with Mobipocket Creator you can resize the text so it fits perfectly on the Kindle. Sa-weet!
  5. Christian Classics Ethereal Library – this is the most likely site to have the best theology books, like the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Unfortunately they are all in Text or PDF format, so you will want to run them through the Mobipocket Creator software (#5 above) first.
  6. SBL’s Greek New Testament – Two things are amazing about this. First, it is a scholarly Greek New Testament that has very liberal terms of use, making it effectively free. Second, the Kindle displays the Greek VERY WELL. It is easily the easiest-to-use Greek Bible I own, though it is somewhat limited because it can’t search in Greek. SBLGNT came in PDF format, so I also had to run it through Mobipocket, but it was ready to use on the Kindle in about seven minutes from the time I started downloading.
  7. The Septuagint (LXX) – To me, one of the most useful things about knowing Greek is not reading the New Testament in its original language, but reading the Old Testament in the language of the early church. Unfortunately I was not able to find a free version of the Septuagint that has breathing and accent marks. Jeff, who runs the site, promised in 2008 that he would try to add all accents, but it doesn’t appear to be available yet. Nevertheless, when run through Mobipocket, it is a fairly readable version. If I have any problems, I can always consult the old paper edition.
  8. The Psalms of David in Metre – I had to cut-and-paste these into a Word document, and then convert them. It was more work than the others, but it was worth it. I recently discovered this translation of the psalms from the Scottish Presbyterian church, done in 1650. The language is a little archaic, but it makes it really easy to sing the psalms for personal prayer.

The new Kindle has all kinds of additional features, like an experimental web browser and a very basic mp3 player. It is set up so that you can clip quotes from a book and post them directly to Facebook or tweet them on Twitter. The only major thing it’s lacking is a basic notebook program for writing down notes. But overall, I feel as if I have been given ownership of the world’s greatest theological library for just $139.

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Categories: Books, Theology
  1. TomL
    January 22, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    ereaders are cool! I am not likely to buy one because I can read ebooks on my Android phone, my iPad, and also on my notebook and desktop PCs. But if I did not have any of those, I’d be all over the Kindle. ;-) Or maybe a Color Nook?

  2. January 23, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Brilliant, very useful. Thanks.

  3. January 23, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Ryan,
    I’m glad you’ve found the PDF of the Septuagint useful and are sharing it here. I’ll mention that I didn’t “promise” a version with diacritics in 2008, but had hoped to produce one. With the increasing popularity of ereaders, I have shifted efforts there to an html/epub format instead of pdf. I’ll send you a note when I’ve completed an ereader friendly version of the LXX with diacritics.
    Jeff

  4. January 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Thanks for the kind notes everyone. @TomL, the thing that is so amazing about the Kindle is the fact that it uses “e-ink” so it really looks like a printed page. If you get a chance, check one out in person. Best Buy and Target both carry them in the states. Not sure who might have them across the sea.

    @Jeff, do you need help? I have a friend who’s doing her thesis about verbal aspect in the 5th book of psalms in the LXX. This may be of interest to her too.

  5. February 5, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    So are you hoping to switch over to ebooks entirely? I decided to about a year ago, when I found out that it was easier for me to read ebooks off a dedicated device as my OCD/ADD made it hard for me to read physical books because I was constantly distracted, even by the physical book itself. I tried the Kindle out, but it wasn’t for me. I also tried the Nook Color and I liked it quite a bit, great screen size for reading, but I eventually went with an ipad.

    Are you back to blogging?

    Bryan L

  6. R.T. Jones
    February 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    I am discovering that I have a really hard time being willing to pay for ebooks. What inspired me to get the kindle is that I can get tons of public domain books for free. Color is out for me; the draw of the Kindle is that it reads like a real book, not a backlit screen. That’s why you need a light in order to read it in the dark. You can read a whole book without your eyes bugging out from staring at a screen. That’s pretty sweet.

    I am hoping to be back to blogging at maybe a post a week.

  7. Jerry W
    February 22, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Your post here made me make the final decision to get a Kindle.

    Since you went through the trouble of putting together the Scottish Metrical Psalter… any interest in making that available? :)

  8. R.T. Jones
    March 5, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Jerry, I can make the Psalter available. I’m not sure where to post it. Any thoughts? Or I can email it to you direct.

  9. Jerry W
    March 12, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Thanks, R.T.!
    You can send it to my email, if you don’t mind (I assume you can see it, as it’s a required field).

  10. Dennis McFadden
    March 14, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    I am intrigued by your mention of converting the SBL Greek NT to Mobi for Kindle. I have been unable to do this in anything other than an image format. One might as well use the PDF files that they post on the SBL Greek NT site! Back in the fall, word was that Logos was planning to release a Kindle version “soon.” So far, no show. Any advice, assistance, help you can provide would be most appreciated.

  11. April 12, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Dennis, sorry for the delay. (I am a bad blogger.) I don’t know what I did differently, but it worked for me. I can e-mail you a file. Send me an e-mail (ryantjones-at-gmail-dot-com) and I will send the file to you.

  12. June 13, 2011 at 12:09 am

    Here is the free Kindle edition of SBLGNT from OSNOVA. No need to convert it yourself.

    Complete description is at http://osnova.com/2011/06/12/sblgnt/

    You can download it for free from Google at http://goo.gl/5zs2u

    OSNOVA’s Kindle edition of the SBL Greek New Testament provides an excellent formatting and navigation. The OSNOVA Kindle edition incorporates an active table of contents, a 5-way controller navigation between chapters and books, a cross-reference system between the Bible text and the apparatus, and the innovative navigation aid called Direct Verse Jump 2 (DVJ-2), which makes it easy to open any Bible verse in mere seconds. The complete instructions on how to use all navigation aids in this publication are found at the beginning of the book.

    Enjoy!

  13. Pastor Isaac Arku
    December 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I am a Pastor of a young church in Ghana but have been in ministry and pastored some church for twelve years now.I am a leadership. christian trainer and has much interest in training and discipling christians.I believe as leader who has ambition of always learning new things theology study materials will be of an immense benefit to myself and the church.Thank you for the good work.

    My contact information,

    Pastor Isaac Arku
    C/o Pastor Isaac Baidoo
    P.O.Box 496
    Agona Swedru.
    Central Region.
    Ghana.

  14. Ayantoyinbo Adesina
    March 27, 2013 at 5:41 am

    I am a student of theology in Anglican communion, i need books that to enhance my study.

  15. April 12, 2014 at 6:59 am

    I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across
    a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the
    nail on the head. The problem is something not enough people are speaking intelligently about.
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  16. Jemson Jebasingh
    May 6, 2014 at 8:32 am

    I am a deacon in church of south india. I need theological books that to help to my sermon… Thanks for your valuable help.

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