The following essay is extracted from F. Condron, M, Fraser, S. Sutherland. CTI Textual Studies Guide to Digital Resources for the Humanities. (Oxford: Humanities Computing Unit, 2000).
The last printed edition of the Resources Guide (1994) drew attention to the fact that religion scholars are an interdisciplinary group, and whilst no doubt many of the resources detailed in the religion section would be useful, religion scholars were just as likely to be found browsing the sections on philosophy, classics, and literature. The same observations hold true for this edition, nearly six years later, perhaps more so given the continuing rise in interdisciplinary teaching and research.
Religion is a popular subject. The CTI Centre has received more enquiries from the non-academic reader on the subject of religion than any other subject supported by the Centre. The boundaries between what properly belongs to the academic study of religion and theology and what belongs to the popular or the devotional spheres can be unclear. Of course, this issue has risen and fallen throughout any process of self-reflection within religious studies. However, it also rises again within the provision of digital resources for the study of religion. It is fair to say, that even after fifty years of text-based computing, the most prevalent digital resource, the subject of most questions about computers and theology, is the electronic bible. Within Judeo-Christian theology, at least, the bible cuts through most areas of study, from biblical studies itself to historical and philosophical theology, and to applied theology. If the availability of the bible in electronic form is the subject of the most frequently-asked religion question, then the second question concerns its display on the screen, especially in Greek or Hebrew. Fonts and the display of special charcters is still a primary issue for anyone working with ancient texts. A selection of popular fonts for the display of Greek and Hebrew, such as the Scholars Press set of fonts, WinGreek and its relations, and LaserHebrew, are detailed in the section on Fonts and special characters.
Starting Points on the Internet
Religion is one of the humanities subjects particularly noted for its embracing of the opportunities offered by the Internet (others include classics and medieval studies). It is hardly surprising that religion in general (or rather religious bodies and religious individuals) should take advantage of a global communications and self-publishing mechanism. Scholars and students of religion, however, are no different in their search for and distribution of research and teaching materials than scholars and students in other humanities disciplines. The mixture of scholarly, apologetic, polemical, devotional, cultic and denominational Web resources relating to some aspect of religious belief, history, and practice makes the Internet at best a very rich, human, resource for the study of religion, and at worst a frustrating place for finding substantial, high quality academic resources. Given that one person's wheat can be another's chaff, the existence of Internet gateways which build a picture of religion on the Internet for a particular purpose are of especial importance. Although there is no one recommended starting point for finding quality religion resources, the Virtual Religion Index at Rutgers University is especially good (http://religion.rutgers.edu/vri/index.html). The Index is a comprehensive listing (with commentary) categorized by topic. Topics include Anthropology & Sociology of Religion, Archaeology and Religious Art, Comparative Religion, Ethics & Moral Values, as well as a range of religious traditions. John Gresham's Finding God in Cyberspace (http://www.fontbonne.edu/libserv/fgic/fgic.htm) provides a good overview of the types of resources available, whether Web sites, email lists, or electronic journals. The guide is updated annually and has been a popular starting point since its first edition in 1995.
The study of theology, apart from the study of religion, can be divided into biblical studies, historical studies, systematic, philosophical or contemporary theology, and applied or pastoral theology. Biblical and historical theology are, in terms of quantity at least, better served on the Internet than the other categories. First, biblical studies has a wide appeal and a fixed corpus of texts; second, historical studies depend on primary texts, many of which exist in nineteenth century translations now out of copyright. One of the best gateways for biblical resources in general is maintained by Torrey Seland at Volda College, Norway (http://www.hivolda.no/asf/kkf/rel-stud.html). In the UK Mark Goodacre has developed a range of resources, including a gateway, for the study of the New Testament in particular (http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre/links.htm), with sections on the Greek New Testament, textual criticism, Paul, the early Church, Jesus in film, scholars with Web pages, and email lists. His site also includes an extensive set of pages devoted to the 'Synoptic Problem'.
Primary source materials in their original languages are rare and the scholar has better electronic sources than the Internet for these, like the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae corpus, the CETEDOC Library of Christian Latin Texts CD-ROM, or the Patrologia Latina Database. The exception, should one want access to classical texts and online lexical tools, is the Perseus Project which includes both original Greek texts with translations and also online editions of the Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek Lexicon and the Lewis and Short Latin Dictionary. English translations of patristic and medieval texts abound, though often in a somewhat piecemeal fashion. The entire Church Fathers series is available in electronic form over the Internet. Each volume has been scanned by enthusiasts. Editorial notes are occasionally missing and the texts also have proofing errors but even so, they still make a good starting point for studying the history and theology of the early Church. The texts, in HTML format, can be obtained via the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (http://ccel.wheaton.edu/) or from the New Advent Catholic Website (http://www.knight.org/advent/). This site also holds an 'in-progress' edition of the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia together with Aquinas' Summa Theologica. A large collection of Byzantine and Medieval texts, especially Paul Halsall's Internet sources books, can be found via the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies (http://orb.rhodes.edu/).
Of course, the study of any major religion might be divided into historical, philosophical and applied studies. There are, then, a number of gateways for the study of specific religions worth mentioning. Resources for the study of Judaism, for example, are comprehensively catalogued by the Internet Jewish History Sourcebook (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/jewish/jewishsbook.html). For the study of Islam, Alan Godlas, University of Georgia, has compiled a significant directory of resources which includes sections on Islamic art, music, and architecture; history and philosophy; the study of the Qu'ran; Islamic mysticism (http://www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/). The UK Association for Buddhist Studies (http://www.sunderland.ac.uk/~os0dwe/bsa.html) and the electronic Journal of Buddhist Ethics (http://www.gold.ac.uk/jbe/jbe.html) both include a controlled list of Web resources as well as being sites worth visiting in their own right. The Himalayan Academy publishes The Directory of Hindu Resources Online (http://www.hindu.org/) which includes sections on Dharma and philosophy; art, music and culture; temples open for online visiting. See also the UK-based Hindu Tantrik Homepage (http://www.hubcom.com/tantric/) which makes available an extensive collection of tantrik literature from the Kaula tradition, including original English translations, Sanskrit texts, and a lengthy glossary.
The Internet is a suitable medium for the publication of more ephemeral material, such as details of new religious movements. The Religious Movements Homepage at the University of Virginia has been created as part of an undergraduate course (http://cti.itc.virginia.edu/~jkh8x/soc257/home.html). It is a well-designed site which provides profiles of more than two hundred religious movements. At the time of publication, the site had a featured profile on the Millennium. CESNUR (Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni) is an international network of scholars working in the area of new religious movements (http://www.cesnur.org/). The site provides an extensive archive of online articles and case studies for the study of new religions, anti-cult movements, and religious liberty. The Centre's searchable library catalogue holds over 10,000 bibliographic records.
As in other humanities subjects there are many Web sites which have been constructed for teaching particular courses (and have sometimes expanded considerably beyond their original remit). For the most part these are best discovered via one of the gateways mentioned above. However, it is also worth drawing attention to the American Academy of Religion's Online Syllabi Project (http://www.wlu.ca/~wwwaar/home.html). The Project is putting together a catalogue of available course pages together with reflections on the resources and methodologies employed for teaching the course. The AAR, along with the Society for Biblical Literature, maintain extensive Web sites aimed at scholars of religion and biblical studies (see http://scholar.cc.emory.edu/). In the UK, examples of Web sites associated with specific courses can be found at the universities of St Andrews (Old Testament Pseudepigrapha - http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~www_sd/otpseud.html), Birmingham (Joseph and Aseneth - http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre/aseneth/), Lampeter (Islamic Studies - http://www.lamp.ac.uk/cis/pathways/), Aberdeen (Historical Jesus - http://www.abdn.ac.uk/divinity/DR1019/index.html), and Durham (Ugaritic - http://www.johnstrt.demon.co.uk/ugaritic/ugarmain.htm).
The Humbul Humanities Hub, part of the new national Resources Discovery Network, includes religion and theology within its remit (http://www.humbul.ac.uk). The Hub is developing a searchable database of scholarly Web resources together with other features such as a humanities conference diary, email list, and printed newsletter. One of the gateways which will be enhanced by making it part of the Humbul database will be 'Internet Resources for the Study and Teaching of Theology', currently maintained under the umbrella of CTI Textual Studies (http://info.ox.ac.uk/ctitext/theology/). The Hub has issued a call for contributors to work with the Hub in finding and describing Web resources. Contributors include librarians, academics, and research students.
Much of the study of religion is about the interpretation of texts. The first extensive use of computers within the humanities was for a close study Thomas Aquinas' works, and one of the earliest major Web sites was the Library of Congress Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition which included images of a selection of the scrolls as well as other relevant artefacts and textual commentary (http://metalab.unc.edu/expo/deadsea.scrolls.exhibit/intro.html). There are now numerous text databases available on CD-ROM and numerous primary texts available on the Web. Not all electronic editions, however, are the same. Many of the texts available on both CD-ROM and the Web are based on texts now out of copyright (and often superseded by more recent print editions). Certainly, a large proportion of the texts available on the Web are published by enthusiasts with little or no financial or institutional support. Online texts have a tendency to suffer from a lack of information concerning the printed editions from which they are derived, what was omitted in the digitization process, and what changes to the text might have occurred as part of that process. The TLG CD-ROM in this case acts as a model of good practice. Each text on the CD-ROM has been based on the best available printed edition, and each text is documented in the Canon of Authors with full bibliographic details. The same principles apply also to the CETEDOC Library of Christian Latin Texts CD-ROM, and the texts made available through the Perseus Project. The Electronic Buddhist Text Initiative is a liaison group for representatives from projects concerned with the digitization of the Buddhist canon (http://www.human.toyogakuen-u.ac.jp/~acmuller/ebti.htm). Their Web site is an excellent starting point for locating scholarly Buddhist textual resources. For the most part, however, the best electronic texts are often costly to purchase and have restrictios on how the text may be used outside of the supplied software.
Biblical texts are available from a variety of sources. Texts in original languages, save for the King James Version, are harder to find on the Internet. A selection of electronic versions of the Greek New Testament are available at http://www.znet.com/~broman/editions.html and the University of Pennsylvania's Center for the Computer Analysis of Texts (CCAT) makes available transliterated versions of the Hebrew and Septuagint texts (gopher://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/11/Archive). The two bible gateways (http://www.gospelcom.net/bible and http://www.stg.brown.edu/webs/bible_browser/) provide access to a range of bible translations through advanced search engines, though the texts themselves are not available for downloading. Computer-assisted biblical analysis has a long history. Not long after Busa converted Aquinas to machine-readable form, John William Elison received a PhD from Harvard for his thesis, "The use of electronic computers in the study of the Greek New Testament text" (1957). Andrew Q. Morton later made the New York Times (7 November 1963) when he published the results of his stylistic study of St Paul's letters. Thus, it is not surprising that some of the more advanced software within the humanities exists for biblical studies. As with many other text analysis tools, at the heart of biblical software lies some remnant of the biblical concordance. With packages like BibleWorks, Bible Windows, and the Logos bible software, concordances can be generated for the Hebrew bible, the Septuagint, the Vulgate, the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament and a range of English translations (KJV, RSV, NIV, and others).
The development of biblical studies software has continually strived towards an integrated environment where the primary texts are integrated with translations, lexical aids, commentaries and, more recently, resources on the Internet (for example the Greek texts and tools at the Perseus Project). The Logos Library System, for example, takes a modular approach by providing the underlying library system for free, and then encouraging users to download and 'unlock' (via credit card payment) desired texts from an ever-increasing library. Texts from Logos include the Anchor Bible Dictionary as well as the Bible in Greek, Hebrew, Latin and numerous other languages, the Early Church Fathers series, and devotional material. Bible Windows and Bible Works also allow the user some flexibility in picking and choosing texts as required. The key to many of the available biblical packages lies in providing an extensive range of texts whilst preserving the attention to detail for which biblical studies has been renowned. This is particularly true concerning the linguistic and statistical analysis of texts. Electronic editions of the Hebrew bible, the Septuagint, or the Greek New Testament are available where every word in the text is accompanied by its part of speech information as well as its dictionary headword. This enables the construction of fairly complex grammatical searches based on linguistic information. It is possible to analyse Paul's use of 'kai' if one so wished, or the use of the present participle in Mark's Gospel, or compare language usage across a selection of texts and draw preliminary conclusions about translation technique. The GRAMCORD software and AnyText, for example, are particularly suitable for linguistic analysis. On the whole biblical software is still more advanced than other works which have received similar scholarly detail (e.g. Shakespeare) in the different ways in which the texts can be browsed, searched, integrated with other texts, and in the additional information encoded within the text..
There are relatively few resources described in this section which have been developed solely for teaching purposes. This is, to a large extent, true across the humanities where the emphasis is not so much on courses on a disk, as on learning to benefit from resources published within the research community. A number of multimedia resources are probably suitable for introducing a subject to an undergraduate audience. For example, the Dead Sea Scrolls Revealed CD-ROM provides an imaginative overview of the history of, and issues associated with, the discovery and study of the scrolls. On the other hand, the firmly research-oriented Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Reference Library could be used with some guidance for an advanced course which required access to the scrolls in the original languages. The Anchor Bible Dictionary and the Encyclopaedia Judaica in electronic form are clearly easier to consult than their printed counterparts. Resources produced for other purposes might be 'repackaged' such as the On Common Ground CD-ROM which details the beliefs and practices of major religions alongside its aim of documenting religious practice in America. The Evolution of the English Bible presents a history of the development of the biblical text, drawing mainly on materials held in one university library which, prior to the publication of the CD-ROM, would have been difficult for students or staff to access. Most research libraries have primary source material which, if digitized and made available locally at least, could become a significant teaching resource.
Language learning has benefited from the use of computers for many years. Certainly, in theology and classics a range of Greek and Hebrew electronic learning aids are available. A number of classical Greek packages are described in the Classics section of this Guide. Parsons Technology publish two CD-ROMs for learning biblical Hebrew and Greek. Whilst suitable for self-learning as part of a formal course, they tend towards textbooks on disk. Within the classroom some benefit can evidently be gained from teaching New Testament Greek by actively using a biblical software package which includes a parsed copy of the Greek text, and a suitable search engine (see Kraabel 1997). Apparently, Greek words blown up to fill the classroom wall are less scary than Greek words tightly packed on a printed page. And experimenting with a linguistically inclined text and search engine can be a great aid to learning grammar, even with only a little knowledge of Greek vocabulary.
It helps if language learning can make use of real language from as early as possible. Modern language learning also increasingly takes account of the literature and culture expressed in the target language. It is hardly unusual for students of French or German to read daily newspapers or watch television in their chosen language. Whilst such resources are not available to students of ancient Greek or Hebrew, the Web has provided a mechanism for integrating texts, lexicons, images, music and other cultural artefacts with the process of learning the language. The Perseus Project, for example, contains texts in Greek together with lexical tools. But because nearly anything can be linked to nearly anything else it is possible, for example, to link every word in a copy of the Greek New Testament to the online Liddell-Scott-Jones Lexicon, or to compare the usage of any given word in the GNT with its use in a large corpus of classical literature.
Whilst the fully integrated ancient language learning environment has yet to be developed, there are a number of notable Web resources intended for the learning of Greek or Hebrew. Navigating the Bible (http://bible.ort.org/) is designed as preparation for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, in particular the recitation of the Torah. The site makes use of RealAudio together with Hebrew transliteration and English translation. RosettaStone is a downloadable Java application for learning Hebrew vocabulary. Effectively a database of 4,000 words, the user can select words which match a certain level of difficulty. The software records the student's progress through the vocabulary database. The Hebrew Language Web site at the University of Texas includes a series of biblical Hebrew tutorials amongst its Modern Hebrew offerings (http://www.dla.utexas.edu/depts/cmes/heblang/). The tutorials make use of multimedia plug-ins and it is evident that they are primarily intended for students undertaking courses at the University of Texas. However, tutorials developed for specific courses can also be found useful outside the institution responsible for their creation, especially if the texts or textbooks they are often designed to support are widely used. The University of Oxford's Faculty of Theology has partnered with Oxford's Humanities Computing Development Team to develop Greek Language for Theologians, an online aid for learning New Testament Greek (http://hcdt.oucs.ox.ac.uk/theology/greek/). Such a resource has already been found useful within other institutions teaching Greek and studying the Gospels of Mark or John, or making use of Wenham's Elements of New Testament Greek. The application, usable with nearly any Web browser, tests students on vocabulary and grammar. The software also records a student's progress, saving lists of words answered incorrectly.
Journals and bibliographies
The main bibliographic database for religion scholars is the ATLA (American Theological Libraries Association) Religion Database, available on CD-ROM or through OCLC FirstSearch. Religion scholars will also find useful references in many of the databases described in the section on Bibliographic Resources in this Guide. More specialized databases include the Index Islamicus, and also the Index of Christian Art which is now available online to subscribing institutions. The development of personal bibliographic databases which can output HTML has provided the potential for scholars to share their own specialized bibliographies on the Web. One example is William Peterson's online bibliography (and other resources) for the study of English literature and religion (http://www.inform.umd.edu/ENGL/englfac/WPeterson/ELR/elr.htm).
Publishers have increasingly been making their journals available online (to subscribers), especially within the sciences but also the humanities. For example, Blackwells have placed online the Heythrop Journal, Journal of Religious Ethics, Journal of Religious History, and Modern Theology. For the most part only recent issues are available in electronic form. Project Muse, however, has digitized entire backruns of selected journals (http://muse.jhu.edu/muse.html) with a significant proportion of humanities journals (e.g. Journal of Early Christian Studies). ATLA have also commenced work on a journal digitization project, ATLAS, to digitize the full-text of fifty years' worth of fifty theological journals (http://www.purl.org/CERTR/).
There are also a growing number of electronic journals which preserve the best of the peer-review system whilst granting free access to the journal's content without the subscription policies (and delays) associated with traditional print publishers. For the study of religion, some examples include: Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies (http://www.uib.no/jais/jais.htm), Journal of Buddhist Ethics (http://www.gold.ac.uk/jbe/jbe.html), Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies (http://www.acad.cua.edu/syrcom/Hugoye/index.html), Internet Journal of Religion (http://www.uni-marburg.de/fb03/religionswissenschaft/journal/), Review of Biblical Literature (http://www.bookreviews.org/, also available in print), Journal of Religion and Film (http://www.unomaha.edu/~wwwjrf/), and the Journal for Christian Theological Research (http://home.apu.edu/~CTRF/jctr.html). The publication of freely available, scholarly journals is expected to grow together with the development of online archives of scholarly articles and preprints.
The resources described in the following catalogue have been selected on the basis of their potential use within teaching or research. Omitted are those which seem to have a popular or devotional basis, and also omitted are the relatively few resources aimed at the religious ministry. Many of the resources relate to the study of Judeo-Christian theology, particularly biblical studies. This apparent bias mainly reflects the current availability of CD-ROM resources, at least. There are, of course, many more resources available online which are not detailed in the catalogue but may be found through one of the recommended gateways mentioned above. The Internet itself is also a potential source of theology, with many sites dedicated to the active practice of religion through virtual prayer spaces, online mosques, churches, temples, and synagogues. Also, of course, as mentioned above, new but relatively small religious movements have taken advantage of the Web to proclaim their message. Organized religion also has a Web presence and most Christian denominations have official Web sites (see Church Net UK at http://www.churchnet.org.uk/). The Web is also a platform for those who wish to subvert religion in whatever form. Bishop Jacques Gaillot, having been removed from his see at Evreux, tranformed his now non-existant see of Partenia into a virtual diocese, 'without frontiers' (http://www.partenia.org/). And finally, there is atheisms.net (http://www.atheisms.net/), dedicated to non-belief and religious scepticism where, at the time of publication, nearly every link to details of atheism within the major religions resulted in '404 not found' messages. A healthy degree of scepticism as well as faith is recommended for most things connected to the Web.