site is aimed at those who are interested in the Bible, but have no
formal, academic training. One of the main reasons for constructing it
was the dearth of such accessible material on the internet. There are
plenty of sites relating to areas of hermeneutics (particularly applying
the Bible to the modern world) or polemics (promoting a particular
individual's/group's beliefs), however, they tend not to look at the
nature of the Bible itself. Although there is an increasing amount of
sites devoted to academic research material, they
tend to be technical and assume a certain amount of pre-knowledge.
Listed below are sites that, while primarily aimed at the academic community, provide invaluable resources for those who want to take the study of the Bible a little further.
The New Testament Gateway
The New Testament Gateway is arguably the most comprehensive 'one-stop-shop' website for academic Biblical studies. It is exactly what its name suggests - a gateway to a large number of sites related to the study of the New Testament.
The site is run by Mark Goodacre, formerly at Birmingham and now the Associate Professor in New Testament at Duke University (USA).
The site is primarily aimed at academics and therefore some of the sites may, at times, appear a little technical. Nevertheless, there is a lot of really good accessible material to be found here. A further advantage to Mark's site is that, because a large proportion of his site users are undergraduate and postgraduate students, he only includes those sites which demonstrate academic quality and integrity. Mark's interests include the portrayal of Jesus and the Gospels in film and material relating to this is also represented in this site.
One further point of interest is Mark's blog, in which he describes problems and issues relating to his research (frequently, with the input from other scholars). Stimulating and absorbing, it is a chance to encounter the process of academic biblical study in its most natural and unaffected form.
Allied to Mark's New Testament Gateway are the Resource Pages for Biblical Studies which is a site compiled by Torrey Seland, Professor of New Testament Studies at the School of Mission and Theology, Stavanger, Norway.
The strength of Professor Seland's site is the Aspects of the Mediterranean Social World which is a wonderful potpourri of links - there is even a denarius converter should you are be in need of one! This is an incredible resource which helps to create a clearer understanding of the world of the New Testament.
One of Professor Seland's specialist areas concerns the Jewish writer Philo of Alexandria. This is reflected by a separate page of links which provide us with details of Philo and the Jewish world at the turn of the Common Era.
Background Primary Reading
Traditionally, Christianity has had an ambivalent attitude concerning its non-canonical literature, with some finding it helpful, while others denouncing it as heretical and 'dangerous'. Nevertheless, the rich heritage of early Christian writing can tell us much about the Bible and the context in which Christianity developed.
Peter Kirby has done an incredible job in providing an invaluable resource for ancient literature. Often, each work can be read in a couple of translated forms, as well as the original language. The works are listed chronologically (although these are often estimated times and open to debate), thereby placing each work in its historical context. Like the New Testament Gateway, this is a really wonderful site - be prepared to lose hours (if not whole evenings) in it.
A sister site Early Jewish Writings, also run by Peter Kirby presents some of the literature to be found within the Jewish tradition. For those needing a copy of Josephus (fairly essential background to NT study), an online version can be found here.
Recently, Peter has announced an exciting new project which will put the Dead Sea Scrolls, in translated and original form on the internet. It promises to be a wonderful site, going far further than anything he has done before. Although information relating to the Dead Sea Scrolls is fairly abundant on the web, good quality, hands-on material is still sparse. One of the problems with the scrolls is that nearly everyone has heard of them, but very few appear to know anything about them. Although, still at the very early stage - watch this space.
I have made an assumption that, if you have got this far, you will probably have access to a Bible (either in electronic or hard copy form). However, there are many sites that offer online versions of the Bible. Some are good and others are not so good. Rather than re-invent the wheel, if you would like to look at what is on offer, or want a computer searchable version, than I would suggest you visit Mark Goodacre's NT Gateway (described above) and, in particular, his comprehensive All-in-One Biblical Resources Search.
The Unbound Bible (Biola University) is probably one of the best examples of the strengths in using an electronic text. It offers a staggering choice of versions and is fully searchable allowing the possibility for comparison between translations and editions.
Any study of the Gospels requires a synopsis or Gospels parallels which set side-by-side similar material found in the Gospels. In fact, it is the prevalence of such 'overlapping' material found in Matthew, Mark and Luke is why they are called the 'Synoptic Gospels'. John Marshall has edited a brilliant Gospels parallels site (which also includes the Gospels of John and Thomas). It is designed for beginners and is also relatively easy to use.
Please note that even a good English language (literal) synopsis can only provide an approximation of verbatim material. Accurate study necessitates the use of a Greek language synopsis.
Critical Editions really are specialist tools which require a working knowledge of the Biblical languages. Nevertheless, they are worth looking at as they are the best way to get an understanding of the nature of our Biblical documents and the process by which our present day Bibles have come down to us. For more general information click to this site's page on Critical Editions. It was my introduction to the Nestlé-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece that totally revolutionised my understanding and conception on the New Testament.
Critical Editions are still predominantly paper-based. However, the electronic format provides exciting opportunities and promises to offer more flexible tools.
The best website is currently being compiled by the Institute for New Testament Textual Criticism at the University of Münster in Germany.
Don't be put off by the technical nature of the site. Have a click around, particularly at their ever growing list of manuscripts.
For More General Resources
For publisher of Bible, commentaries, study aids, Christian publications and online material Crosswalk Directory provide an exhaustive and wide ranging directory of Christian resources.