Maybe you are deep into cryptocurrency and blockchain technology and know exactly what a non-fungible token is. Or maybe you, like me, barely know what those words mean, but have a vague feeling that guys at a certain type of bar love to talk about bitcoin and that NFTs are some kind of digital art. Maybe you saw the headlines when an NFT, from an artist known as Beeple, sold for $ 69 million.
Either way, you can now buy Bible verses in NFT form, thanks to four-month-old Israeli company CryptoVerses, which just announced that it has sold a set of four consecutive verses in Exodus dealing with of Shabbat, of the Shmita year and of idolatry for a while. less than half a coin of Ethereum cryptocurrency, or the equivalent of $ 1,500. Their first sale was in August for 3.5 Ethereum, now worth around $ 14,000, and the Encrypted Verses offer both the original Hebrew and the Jewish Publication Society’s 1917 English translation.
Prices are a little under $ 69 million, but still a lot for something you can read online for free, including on CryptoVerses’ own website. Once the NFT verses are encrypted in the blockchain, which makes them impossible to modify and buy, they remain free to view and read them on the CryptoVerses site. Cryptoverses even say that owning their biblical NFTs is not owning the verse itself, since the bible is in the public domain; in a press release, they compared owning their NFTs to owning a “locket, where the buyer becomes the owner of the locket but not the owner of the verse written on it.”
This is actually not unusual in the world of NFTs; this $ 69 million piece from Beeple is available not only to view but also to download for free, and it remains a mystery to me why someone paid millions for it. In fact, you can take a screenshot or download or access any NFT for free, even if you don’t officially own it. Some argue that easy access to NFT content increases the value of the artwork by increasing its popularity and fame and who knows – that may be true. Is not all value fundamentally an invented social agreement? Hell, that’s basically our unspoken societal agreement on the green scraps of paper we carry around in our wallets.
Supporters of NFTs say they are the future of art collecting and will give artists more power, giving them more financial control and a new audience hungry for digital art. But the CryptoVerses project, given its hugely famous and extremely accessible content, sheds light on a relevant question: what does it mean to own something that anyone can access for free?
Yonatan Bendahan, co-founder of Cryptoverses, compared their NFTs to owning the first printed bible – you don’t own the content, but you own a revolutionary version of it, an item that in itself is worth something, “like holding a valuable piece of rare Judaica, ”he said in an email.
Bendahan also highlighted the potential preservation aspects of the project; Due to the unique technology that the blockchain uses to store data, once a dataset is entered it cannot be changed. “Once the verse is encrypted, no one, even us, can delete or edit it,” he said. “So just as the printing press revolutionized the distribution and preservation of the Bible, so will the blockchain. “
On the flip side, when I explained the project to a friend who actually understands some things about the crypto and blockchain world, he pointed out that the public domain nature of the Bible means that anyone can create the exact same thing, although Cryptoverses will still have the status of being the first to do so.
Most NFTs can be copied by anyone, of course, but they are designed to prove that the ownership belongs to only one person, perhaps comparable to owning an original work of art even when prints and posters thereof are widely available. (Of course, this is a flawed metaphor when the original and print are the same digital parts, instead of one being oil on canvas and the other laser printed on paper. hardcover.) But because the source material for the Cryptoverses Project is in the public domain, you could really make and own your own original NFT that would, at least in content, be identical, and you would have official ownership of it, albeit it may lack the Cryptoverses brand and the cachet that this confers.
But maybe that’s where the real value comes in. Ownership of some NFTs, like those in the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection, comes with perks, like being invited to fancy parties, and much of the NFT world seems to be the hype, bragging rights, and a certain clique that you have access to when you buy, something particularly highlighted by blockchain technology, which creates a public record of ownership – so that everything the world can see that you are the owner of a fashionable piece in Beeple. Value is relative, and pedigree has always been important in the art world; if anything, NFTs simply reduced complex math to sheer prestige.
So maybe in a certain crowd it’s cool to say that you own some of the bible in NFT form, and that alone is worth thousands of dollars.
You can now buy the Bible in NFT form. But why would you want to?