Hypertext Bible project

Building on the experience of developing a hypertext commentary (Amos: Hypertext Bible Commentary), now peer-reviewed and approved for formal "publication", the project board will oversee the writing and publishing of a series of hypertext commentaries which will eventually cover the books of both the Jewish and Christian Bibles.

This series will take advantage of its electronic format to address a wide audience:
can all use the same collection of resources.

This format also allows extensive use of color images and sound files where these aid comprehension. Electronic publication permits the resource to be distributed cheaply.

The overall concept has been demonstrated to meet a need. Currently over 1000 people every day access the Amos material (over 32,000 page requests per week). Users who have subscribed to the project newsletter include university teachers, their students, pastors, priests and rabbis as well as parishioners and lay leaders.

Goals

To stimulate the production of and to publish, at affordable prices, hypertext and other new media resources for biblical scholarship and Bible study, which

  1. respect the role of the various biblical canons as Holy Scripture for Christian and Jewish Communities
  2. represent accurate and careful biblical scholarship.

This wording seeks:

Timeline

2003
Board appointed
Funding sought for project costs.
2005
Partnership in University Bible Dictionary began
Peer reviewers for Amos appointed and report
Amos published
2006 onward
Refereeing system set up.
Writers commissioned for a few biblical books, image database established (at least incorporating the existing images from the collections of Tim Bulkeley, Ayson Clifford and R.J. Thompson).
University Bible Dictionary articles and partial Hypertext Bible Commentaries begin to appear.
2007 onward
“Finished” commentaries published.
Further authors identified.

Board

The board represents institutions rather than individuals. These were chosen to reflect the double desire to be academically respectable and to provide a resource that is useful to the communities for whom the texts are Scripture.

The board is small (5 members seems ideal, the current number is 4) and deals with its business through a mixture of occasional face-to-face meetings, and email where consensus can be reached.

Software and Project Structure

The commentary will work from an XML database generating the material displayed to users. The OSIS standards will provide much of the XML needed, at least for dealing with the biblical texts. However, an early task will be to define the structure of the data and how it will be interrelated. The taxonomy will include commentary of various sorts e.g. linguistic, literary, background information will need to be distinguished; in addition there will be Bible encyclopedia material, photos (which can be incorporated into articles but which ideally will also be linked directly to biblical passages).

This work will be “translated” into requirements for the software coders. The working system will incorporate not only the final display mechanisms but also means whereby authors can generate appropriately coded text, and a means to manage refereeing of contributions.

Bible Dictionary articles as well as treatments of broader topics (like particular approaches to the text: form criticism etc.), will be available (from the associated University Bible Dictionary project) to be used by all writers of comment. Once work has been refereed and “published” it can be referenced and linked from any other section of the project (as well as by outside authors).

Funding

Initially grant funding will be sought for the costs of setting up the software system. It is hoped that in the early stages the institutions sponsoring board members will cover their costs. As the project gathers momentum ways will need to be found so that it generates the money needed to keep progressing. Possibilities include:

Contact: Dr Tim Bulkeley