Biblical studies web sites
These links all lead to web sites examining the Bible and historical Jesus from every conceivable point of view - including some rather way out ones. My entirely subjective comments are set out below.
The belief rating is defined as follows:
Content is rated out of ten. This rating in no way reflects my agreement with the material offered - but rather the amount of original material presented, web site presentation and the quality of writing.
This is the best of the evangelical sites and well worth a visit simply for the quality of writing and original content. Holding has set up a Rogue's Gallery where he dispatches sceptics with great gusto and humour. Indeed, if you have an atheist site and you're not on this list you just haven't made it. He also has a long apologetic on the Christian faith which is very well put together and deserves to be in print as well as on the web. Finally, he also feels the need to reply to all those charges of biblical inerrancy. I enjoy all of his work but I'm certainly not in total agreement with it.
If you want to see revisionist biblical ideas trashed then this is the place to be. If you don't then come here anyway because JP Holding is the man you'll have to refute. The site is rounded off by some book reviews. These are far too partisan for my taste with anything he doesn't agree with relegated to being useful only as a paperweight. I should not complain though as he has included my review of the awful Jesus Mysteries!
One of the foremost journals of biblical archaeology is the Biblical Archaeology Review ("BAR"). It is produced by this society together with a couple of other magazines. A selection of articles from recent issues are available on-line. The magazine is intellectually honest and must walk a tight rope between its secular and religious readers. This can be seen from the letters pages where both sides complain of bias! Surely a good sign. Other web sites on this subject are either too revisionist (BibArch) or too evangelical (Associates for Biblical Research) to give a balanced view.
Finding somewhere that is completely unpartisan in debates about the Bible is probably impossible but I think that this site comes close. Here you can read lots of excellent articles from all sides, mainly from experienced academics. The "maximalist"/"minimalist" argument can be approached here with several pieces from protagonists on both sides including William Dever and Thomas L Thompson. There is also a useful breaking news feature and lots of material on archaeology. On a negative note, the organisation of the site could certainly be better as could the layout.
This web site belongs to a Christadelphian which is a small anti Trinitarian sect with their own highly literalistic interpretation of the Bible. I have included it here as an example of what can happen when you try to take the bible completely literally, out of the cultural context in which it was written and without any theological reference points. As you can see from my statement of faith I would oppose their rejection of the Trinity and find some of their apocalypticism way over the top. This is, however, a well presented site that tries hard (and fails) to put across it's point of view.
This site is an excellent example of what the Internet could one day become. It is maintained by Dr Mark Goodacre of the University of Birmingham in the UK and is both highly informative and clearly presented. Dr Goodacre has assembled a vast number of links to sites covering every aspect of the New Testament. Especially useful are the scholarly articles that he has tracked down by some of the most respected academics in the field. The site is a little light on original content but that is not what it is there for. Rather it is the ideal jumping off spot for your study of the New Testament and a first class resource for students.
Gibson is primarily interested in spotting mistake and inconsistencies in the bible. He has a very long list of them and is now making his way through the bible book by book. His style is engaging if not exactly scholarly and his good knowledge of Hebrew prevents him from making a lot of the usual mistakes. The site also features the Hierophant's Proselytiser Questionnaire which is about 150 questions of varying seriousness about the Christian faith. It has provoked a lot of debate on the site's discussion boards and I have been unable to resist trying to answer them all.
The discussion board is also where I used to hang out and well worth a visit if you like combative rather than intellectual discussion..
Alternative history can be enormous fun, especially if it manages to keep one foot on the ground. Sanders has been looking at the chronology of the Old Testament and was one of the first to say that conventional historians have got it all wrong. He then amended many of the accepted dates in the light of what he claims is new evidence, to produce a framework in perfect agreement with what the Bible says. This idea has spawned a host of new chronologies of the ancient world (with a research institute called ISIS) and even mainstream scholars admit that the current system is a mess. Sander's aims are undoubtedly apologetic - he wants to prove the Bible is accurate - but his work is entertaining and thought provoking.
Peter Kirby has assembled a huge database of primary sources from early Christianity. He has added some editorial too and presented everything in an easy to use database. For those more interested in the Old Testament and Judaism, Peter has also set up Early Jewish Writings which contains another mass of sources and information. Peter's scholarly stance is definitely quite liberal and it is not always necessary or even a good idea to treat him as an authority, but he is extremely knowledgeable. He is also one of the few atheist amateurs in the field who is not obsessed by the idea Jesus never existed. If you want to meet him in person, he hangs out at the Ebla forums.
© James Hannam 2004.