|Computers & Texts No.
14||Table of Contents||April 1997|
CTI Textual Studies
A Guide to Biblical and Religious Studies, Classics, and Archaeological Resources on the Internet. Patrick Durusau (Scholars Press, Atlanta 1996). ISBN 0-7885-0034-1.
The title to this work may have rather unfortunate connotations given that in the Bible the term, 'high places' is invariably linked with their imminent destruction along with graven images and Asher'im. Is the author perhaps suggesting that the new cult of Ba'al is to be find lurking on the Internet with its home pages, inline images, and hypertext links to other high places? After all, as Qoheleth observes, 'folly is set in many high places' (Qoh 10:6) and certainly anyone who has browsed the Web looking for academic resources for religious studies might share this opinion.
The reference to high places, whatever else it might mean in a biblical context, here refers to promontories visible on an aerial map of the Internet landscape. These are peaks selected for their relevance to the academic study of religion, ancient literature and culture. The book, claims the author, has three audiences in mind: the scholar who needs a quick reference book to resources on the Internet; the scholar who desires to make better use of the Internet for teaching, research or publishing; and finally, the scholar who seeks to persuade colleagues that, generally speaking, the Internet is a good thing.
The book has two main sections: email discussion lists and Internet resources, enclosed by a short introduction, conclusion, and subject index. Both main sections include detailed discussion of their subject. Eight commandments are given for contributing to an electronic mail discussion list including the warning not to, 'put anything in writing or say anything in front of witnesses that you would not want to see on the front page of a newspaper or read to a federal grand jury'. The UK Mailbase server is well covered together with listserv, listproc, and majordomo list software. The email discussion lists are presented in simple alphabetical order together with address, description, and list owner. Most readers will wish to simply browse this section since the name of a discussion list does not always point explicitly to its subject matter.
The bulk of the work, however, is devoted to the section on Internet resources. The section's introduction probably devotes too many pages to FTP and Archie searching when, for most new Internet users at least, the Web will nearly always be the route to downloading texts and software. It is perhaps strange then, given that there is this much attention to 'older' protocols, that there is actually little discussion about the protocols or even the markup language employed by the World Wide Web. For academic users, at least, most of the 'startup' information they require should be available from their local institution. The A-Z of Internet Resources (the vast majority of which are Web-based) occupies 118 of the 253 pages. The range is extensive across theology, archaeology, and classics: the Annual Egyptological Bibliography sits next to Anglicans Online; the Book of Kells is accompanied by the Book of Mormon; Richard Goerwitz receives an entry of his own as do, not surprisingly, Robert Kraft and James O'Donnell. Taking a sample page, one finds details of the Council of Remiremont hypertext, the Cushitic Lexicon Project Reports, and the Cybermuslim Information Collective. UK sites are also well represented including university department home pages.
In principle many will welcome a printed directory rather than simply being emailed a URL to an online guide. In practice publishing a book on Internet resources is a risky business. It can take a number of years from conception through to its availability in the bookshops compared with the speed in which an online guide can be published and updated on the Internet itself. Although this particular guide was published in 1996 (and received for review in early 1997) it reflects construction over a period of time. For example, the reader is pointed at a gopher rather than a web site for online information about the TLG Project, and mention of Microsoft Explorer is absent from the discussion of World Wide Web browsers. But having said that, out of ten resources selected at random not one led to a broken link. The author, recognising that the Internet is in a continual state of change, has developed a supporting WWW page for the book, the URL for which is displayed prominently on the front cover (http://scholar.cc.emory.edu/scripts/highplaces.html). At the time of writing it included a number of new resources (each with a paragraph of annotation) though the 'recent additions' were all dated 22 January 1997. Books may be completed, web sites will never be.
Updates to High Places in Cyberspace at http://scholar.cc.emory.edu/scripts/highplaces.html
This is a book to be browsed with an active Web browser. Although there is an index of resources catalogued according to subject area, the headings are broad and it has been difficult to categorize some resources satisfactorily. Even if Scholars Press do not want to publish the entire work online it might be useful to assemble the list of email and Internet resources into a searchable database for those who, having been introduced to the Internet, know their areas of interest but would still appreciate the annotation attached by Durusau to each resource. Finally, it is worth mentioning TELA (http://scholar.cc.emory.edu/), Scholars Press' own Web site, which, for some time now, has provided an extensive online service for the subject areas covered by this work.
[Table of Contents] [Letter to the Editor]
Computers & Texts 14 (1997), 21. Not to be republished in any form
without the author's permission.
HTML Author: Michael Fraser (email@example.com)
Document Created: 24 May 1997
The URL of this document is http://info.ox.ac.uk/ctitext/publish/comtxt/ct14/fraser.html