4/20/06

Top Ten Online Biblical Studies Resources

I don't suppose these are in any particular order, and they are definitely not arranged by frequency of use. I am, though, particularly keen on the first few. For this list I have selected websites that serve as helpful Biblical Studies resources because they monopolize on convenient features of the internet. For some of these resources, form is function and vice-versa. The internet has granted us access to a remarkable number of Biblical and related texts in tagged, translated, and searchable forms. Some sites have managed to transpose this material to the internet environment better than others. The internet has also given us instant access to images of papyri and other manuscripts that were previously only available in grainy, expensive photos or microfiche. Some of these online collections now even provide focusing and imaging tools that make even the amateur paleographer a potential expert. There are also now audio and visual materials on Biblical texts and history that were previously too unwieldy to collate outside of museum or archive settings.

1. Digital Nestle-Aland prototype

For a long time I thought of Tony Fisher's Greek New Testament as the bee's knees. Based on the NA 26 it simply could not be beaten for instant ease of use. But unfortunately this resource may be reduced to a zipped .tar file in the near future. Thankfully, the University of Muenster INTTR has raised the bar with their Digital Nestle-Aland prototype. This resource has a fairly steep learning curve, but a helpful guide will ease you into the process. A key feature of this ("yet another") online GNT is what amounts to a very handy toolbar that enables one to browse the entire critical apparatus (both the variants and the NA positive apparatus) behind a given text click by click. Unfortunately, the only text currently available in this system is 1 John. The Digital NA also works in tandem with the NT transcripts prototype, a somewhat more simplified database that allows one to work text by text and word for word through the NA 27 apparatus. Once this has evolved beyond the prototype stage it is hard to imagine something more efficient.

2. Perseus.

Perseus is like the Yankees of online Biblical Studies resources, always everyone's favorite. They are well-stacked, have LSJ on the mound, and the deepest bench in the league as far as primary and secondary resources go. One's first few forays into Perseus can be a bit intimidating, and it is helpful to spend the time getting the right fonts configured for the system, but it is eventually worth it.

3. Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon

Just take a look at this page, and click on "search the CAL databases" for an example of how helpful this site can be. There are assorted lexicons and search features there, but if you click on "texts" you can see the incredible range of Aramaic/Syriac texts available, most of which come with a brief morphological analysis pop-up. The "Targumic Studies Module" is a virtual cheat sheet for various Targums, and it includes an online version of Sokoloff's A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic. The only drawback to the site is its unfortunate design, and if viewed on high-resolution (as most monitors are these days), the Hebrew/Aramaic fonts can be a bit tiny. If granted a redesign, the CAL could be a very helpful research hub.

4. Excepting Willker's Online Images and Decker's MSS photos one would be hard-pressed to find a listing of all manuscript photos online. (Mark Goodacre brings many of them together at Text Criticism: Online Images.) As some of these sites have a few broken links, and there are certainly a few more fragments online now than are represented by them, it may be time for a massive update. There are a few places intent on producing large online databases of high-resolution digital manuscript photos, such as The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. But until then the laudable efforts of Willker, Decker, and Goodacre will have to suffice.

5. Four-Color Synopsis

In the real world, I am still joined to the hip with my NA Synopsis. But in the virtual world I have enjoyed using this pleasant synopsis by Carlson. Its design is helpful and gives one a sense of getting the big picture fairly quickly due to its colorful arrangement.

6. Audio GNT

A cousin to Greek and Latin Audio Online, this remarkably helpful teaching aid makes great use of the flexibility of the internet. Voiced by Marilyn Phemister, I will require all future 1st year Greek students to sleep with this cd playing. There is a cd set available by Jonathan Pennington that takes one through NT Greek vocabulary, but Audio GNT uniquely permits one to be an audience to what usually is an object of study.

7. Morphological Analysis of the LXX

One of many helpful resources on the UPenn servers is this little gem. I recommend printing out the file that explains the tagging system, but once one gets used to it this resource becomes a searchable analytical titan as far as online LXX studies are concerned.

8. Net Bible

There are a lot of online bibles out there. I consistently recommend this one to professionals and lay-people simply due to its user-friendly apparatus that tracks translation choices made verse by verse. Not only is it a good translation, but its running textual commentary seems designed to key scholars into NetBible's rationale as well as giving the layperson an insider's glimpse into how a text makes it from the original languages into English.

9. Google Scholar

This tool has turned out to be handier that it initially seemed, and not just for vanity searches. It can provide a bird's eye view over disciplines outside of one's speciality as well as specific bibliographic details of essays, papers, and lectures. As more and more scholarly material becomes part of the internet, this resource is going to become handier every month.

10. Ancient Maps of Jerusalem or Handbook of Biblical Numismatics

If you are as dorky as I am, then you will spend ages scouring the Ancient Maps of Jerusalem, scratching your heads for lost bits of schoolboy Latin and just generally having a good time. And even better, you can brag about the Handbook of Biblical Numismatics on your next date, see how well that goes over. But if I learned anything from working in the rare book room at Trinity International Unversity and stumbling across a copy of Gleason Archer's "A Descriptive Catalog of the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Biblical Coin Collection," (a rather incredible collection) it is that coins really are fascinating and we can learn quite a bit about ancient cultures through numismatics. Hopefully, this last website will convince you of this.

12 comments:

Alan said...

Mike -- Thanks much for this study reference! Some of them I was aware of--others I am eager to explore.

I have good memories of taking Greek from Doc Fish with you and am looking for some tools to improve my NT reading proficiency.

Good work on your two blogs! I will be linking to them shortly.

A. Crim

M. Leary said...

Yeah, I miss those days. Back when all we had to worry about was the cold stare that Doc Fish would level at bad parsers. Great to hear from you.

There are a ton of other Koine educational aids out there that I haven't linked to. I will try to update this list periodically.

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks for that -- a useful post. All best, Mark G.

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