These Israeli entrepreneurs are putting the Bible on the blockchain

A Bible in print: about $ 20.

A Bible on the Blockchain – Priceless, or at least that’s the hope of two Israeli entrepreneurs who are converting Torah verses into NFT.

Non-fungible tokens, also known as NFTs, have become a hot item among art collectors and blockchain enthusiasts in the last year. Everyone from Grimes to The New York Times He’s gotten into the game, selling everything from art to a newspaper column to pet clip art stones, into a new industry that can sometimes seem like a scam.

Now CryptoVerses, a company founded by two secular Israelis, hopes to turn NFTs made up of encrypted Hebrew and English Bible verses into the next great blockchain collectible.

CryptoVerses organizes its verses into small groups, ordered by history, and has already sold 30 of them for an average price of 0.91 Ethereum, or roughly $ 4,150. While others have created NFTs of works of art connected to chapters of the Torah, CryptoVerses appears to be the first company to encrypt the actual biblical text.

The Leiter family bible. (credit: JACOB LEITER)

“It’s like an evolution of the printing press,” Yonatan Bendahan, a software developer and one of the co-founders of CryptoVerses, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. He compared the NFT Bible verses to “a kind of new Judaica.”

Yuval Meyraz, co-founder of Bendahan, recalled taking a Bible with him on walks as a counselor to a youth group. He read stories from the Bible that were relevant to wherever they were walking in Israel as a way to connect his campers to the text.

“It was a great way to pass the story on to the next generation, but these days I’m working in a slightly more technological way to connect young people… with the stories that we love and grew up with,” Meyraz said.

JTA spoke with Meyraz and Bendahan about why someone would want to have an encrypted Bible verse and how the idea was received. This conversation has been edited and condensed.

JTA: First of all, can you explain what an NFT is to those of us who don’t understand it yet?

berry: Sure. So NFT stands for non-fungible token, a token is a piece of digital asset that you can own, just like Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency. When it comes to NFT, it is a different type of digital asset that you can own. But it is not a coin; it is something that represents something unique that you can own and transfer, buy and sell. It started mainly with digital art: people created digital images and created a token, which represented those images and began to transfer ownership over those images.

So why would anyone want to buy a Bible verse NFT?

Bendahan: We see it as a kind of new Judaica, a piece of something that you can collect with which you have some personal connection, and want to give it to yourself or one of your family members. Our second goal is to encrypt the text of the Bible on the blockchain. So we want to take the text of the Bible, which was started by writing on a piece of paper or something that was even before paper, and then transfer it to digital copies over the Internet. And now, the next phase that we are leading is the implementation of the blockchain. And what’s special is that we put this text on a distributed network, and in this way we can make sure that no one can delete it and that it is available to anyone. So by owning an NFT that encrypts a Bible verse, you can participate in the preservation of the text on the blockchain.

How can you even turn the Bible into NFT when no single person can actually own the Bible?

Meyer: So, as you said, no one can own the Torah, it is in the public domain. And we’re not really claiming that anyone is going to own it, of course. But we see it more as a work of art that we made for the first time. For example, let’s say I took 5,884 gold candlesticks, and on each of them I struck a different verse. And we have each candlestick with a specific verse only once. It’s unique. Now, I’m going to go out and sell my art with the specific verse, and it’s not that I’m selling the Bible, but that we own the unique canvas, because you only have one. So it is the same when we create this NFT: it is a work of art, we sell the encrypted verse and it is the first time in the history of the Jewish people and it is what we sell. So the NFT is something you can own, but no one owns the Bible itself.

Who are the people who buy these NFTs? And has there been any backlash?

Meyer: Religious, some of them, surprised us. They found it super interesting. We feared that the project would suffer a backlash. We did not know how it would be accepted, especially with the religious. [Jewish] people. And what surprised us was that it was mostly religious people who were most excited about the project. So we have some investors who are religious, studying in yeshiva even now. One of them even helps us with the text, with the analysis of the text; You would be surprised how many versions of the Torah there are, so we had to choose which version is correct. It’s really amazing how our intuition that we expect everyone to connect to history in order to preserve history, how it really connects to everyone in the real world. This was really surprising, I think it is very beautiful that people see texts as something valuable, especially in the digital age.

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