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Biblical study online: resources for could-be theologians.

For the Reformers, presenting the Bible in the everyday language was paramount. It was assumed that every Christian deserved the right to read and study the Bible. But somehow things changed and for a variety of reasons biblical study once again found itself almost exclusively relegated to the offices of ordained ministers and scholars. Nonetheless, the tide has changed once more. The truth is, it's now easier than ever to not only read your Bible in a completely comprehensible fashion, but also to study it in-depth almost effortlessly using your home computer.

While it's true there's a lot of junk theology out there in cyberspace, there's also a lot of good, reliable information. The internet has a lot to offer could-be theologians in the pews. From Near Eastern archeology to entertainment, to word study tools, the internet can help the average parishioner seem like a divinity school grad. Here are just a few of the websites every Christian should know about:

Biblos

www.biblos.com

Just open up this site, type in the passage you want to see, and the New American Standard Bible appears on your screen. Not sure you understand all of the vocabulary or just want to take a closer look? Click the "Parallel" tab at the top of the screen and see how the verse is rendered in other translations (a total of 25 translations can be viewed side by side). Not enough! Click the "Hebrew" tab and see the nine presentations of the Hebrew text from the Aleppo Codex to the Hebrew Bible, or check out the Latin text or the Septuagint Greek (with or without Diacritics). Didn't get what you want? Click on the "Lexicon" tab and find alternate definitions for each individual word, or cross-reference a word and locate similar verses and passages elsewhere in the Bible. And if that's not enough, you can also check out the atlas, commentary and concordance. This is an online intensive study Bible and this site has it all.

Other comparable sites include:

* Bible Gateway

www.biblegateway.com

* Blue Letter Bible

www.blueletterbible.org

* Bible dot.com

www.bible.com

* The Unbound Bible

unbound.biola.edu

BeliefNet

wwwobeliefnet.com

This large multidenominational and multi-faith website is devoted to helping individuals seek out spiritual information and fostering dialogue between differing views. It is filled with articles, cards, daily Bible readings, devotions, interviews with various religious leaders, discussion groups, and prayer support, as well as inspirational and instructive videos from notable speakers such as Marcus Borg and Brian McLaren. This site also contains a popular and somewhat comical widget known as the Belief-O-Matic--a questionnaire that determines which religion or denomination is your closest match. The purpose of the site is to allow users to ask spiritual questions and seek spiritual answers.

Other comparable sites include:

* Christianity Today (online)

www.christianitytoday.com

* Sojourners

www.sojo.net

* World Mag

www.worldmag.com

* Family Life

www.familylife.com

The Text This Week

www.textweek.com

Just click on the upcoming Sunday and you will see all of the forthcoming scriptures from the Revised Common Lectionary (the scripture readings that will be used in most of our churches each week). The Text This Week web page contains around 200 links each week that pertain directly to the lectionary readings. Find prayers, film clips, teaching notes, preaching resources, Bible studies, related short stories, articles, discussion boards and guides, complete sermons and complete worship services, socioeconomic related information, church resources like bulletin covers and inserts, hymn suggestions, children's stories, maps, skits and plays and on and on and on. Developed primarily for ministers and church staff, this site has continually grown and has proven itself useful far beyond its original intentions. The site is extremely eclectic, incredibly useful, and garners worldwide respect for good reason.

Other comparable sites include:

* www.lectionary.org

* www.commontexts.org

* www.word-sunday.com

Not scholarly enough for you? Check out these sites:

Internet Christian Library

www.iclnet.org

From this website you can manoeuvre through a massive collection of historical Christian creeds or read the translated sermons of Martin Luther. At ICL you can find a copy of the first-century instructions for Christians known as the Didache, or read St. Augustine's City of God. You can find the letter Clement of Rome sent to the church in Corinth in the late first/early-second century when he was Bishop of

Rome, or you can read free copies of Our Daily Bread. This site has or links to almost any piece of historical Christian writing a budding scholar might possibly wish for. Come here to learn where theological study began.

Other comparable sites include:

* Christian Classic Ethereal Library

www.ccel.org

* The Internet Classic Archive

www.classics.mit.edu

* Online Christian Library

www.ntslibrary.com

* iTanakh

www.itanakh.org

ABZU

www.etana.org/abzu

This massive hub is set up to link each user to the best information on the ancient Near East and Mediterranean. Type in any relevant topic of interest and you will unearth credible academic articles and more. Looking for historically relevant information? Type in "Baal" and find an article on Baal in 17th-century Judah. Type in "crucifixion" and check out the archeological information, such as photographs of excavated bone fragments of a foot complete with nail, or learn what Josephus (a first-century Jewish historian) had to say. Find archaeological excavation reports, ancient text translations, and reliable information on almost any ancient Near Eastern topic.

Other comparable sites include:

* The Oriental Institute

oi.uchicago.edu

* Biblical Archeology Review

www.bib-arch.org

* Archeology

www.archaeology.org

* Okeanos

www.faculty.washington.edu/snoegel/okeanos.html

The Presbyterian Church in Canada

www.presbyterian.ca

This is a wonderful resourse for news reports, directories, education, missions, and community information. The site provides historical, theological and organizational data. In addition, the site incorporates links to the Presbyterian Museum (which you may tour online), the Presbyterian Book Room, digital photo galleries and official policies and more. Most noteworthy are the online resources, where you can find information on bursaries, ideas for justice ministries and youth, dramas for your church services, worship helps and ideas, complete liturgies, Presbyterian World Service and Development, and Living Faith. Want to know what creeds the PCC upholds or what exactly makes a person Presbyterian to begin with? This site will tell you.

Other comparable sites include:

* Christian Answers

www.christiananswers.net

* Codex

www.biblical-studies.ca

* Journal of Religion and Society

moses.creighton.edu/JRS

* Religion-Online

www.religion-online.org

Rev. Bradley Childs is pastoral associate at Dayspring, Edmonton (www.dayspringchurch.ca). This is the first of a series of articles on online resources.

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Title Annotation:RESOURCES
Author:Childs, Bradley
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Apr 1, 2009
Words:1102
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