For those searching for primary resources on Zoroastrianism, the Avesta Zoroastrian Archives are an excellent starting point. Zoroastrianism was a major world religion from the 6th century BC to the 7th century AD, and still has several hundred thousands adherents in India, Iran and North America. The site includes the whole of the Avesta (ancient scriptures of Zoroastrianism) in both English and Avestan (though the latter is provided in Latin script), an assortment of the middle-Persian/Pahlavi texts, and a selection of modern works. Introductory discussions on Zoroastrianism and the Avestan language are also offered. The linguistic section contains a helpful dictionary and descriptions of the language, but caution should be exercised with some of the other Zoroastrian resources, as not all information presented here reflects the best of scholarly opinion. Nevertheless, they do offer an intriguing view into modern expressions of the faith.
The Baha'i Library Online brings together an extensive collection of primary source material, including not only the tradition's authorised sacred writings, but also related spiritual texts. However, the site’s true strength is in its strikingly large and thorough collection of secondary resources. There are full-text versions for dozens of monographs on the Baha’i faith, plus scholarly articles and papers (both published and unpublished), theses, mass-media publications, and even court and government documents. Users should, however, note that the site appears to be aimed primarily at members of the Baha'i faith rather than interested outsiders: although there is an introductory section offering links to basic information, most of the material on the site assumes a reasonable degree of knowledge about the tradition.
The Bahá'í reference library site offers free online-access to English translations of the Bahá'í sacred texts, identical to those disseminated by the Bahá'í World Centre. These include: selections from the writings of the Bab (forerunner of the Bahá'í dispensation); of Baha'u'llah (founder of the Bahá'í faith); of Abdu'l-Baha (son of Baha'u'llah); and of Shogi Effendi (grandson of Abdu'l-Baha). Texts include: Epistle to the Son of the Wolf; the Promulgation of Universal Peace; and the Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Baha. The site also provides an introduction to the Bahá'í faith; links to other Bahá'í sites; and brief synopses of doctrinal formulations. The site is a useful starting point for those who wish to gain an overview of the Bahá'í faith and, especially, an introduction to its sacred texts.
The British Library's Sacred Texts website provides information about the library's collection of religious books and writings. In total, 78 texts are listed, dating from the 1st century to the year 1900: the majority of these are from the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic traditions, but there are also some Buddhist, Hindu, and Zoroastrian works. Highlights include: a Gutenberg Bible; Codex Sinaiticus (the earliest surviving manuscript of the New Testament); the Lindesfarne Gospels; the Golden Haggadah (a lavishly illustrated Jewish prayer book); Sultan Baybar's Qu'ran; and the Gandharan Scrolls (possibly the oldest surviving Buddhist texts). A description giving historical and religious context is provided for each text, along with a high-quality zoomable image. More comprehensive versions of eight key texts are available via the British Library's 'Turn the Pages' feature, which uses Shockwave to simulate the experience of reading the physical book. The Curator's Choice section offers audio recordings (with transcripts) of experts talking about a number of the works. A visually attractive and valuable site.
The Center for the Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts (CPART), based at Brigham Young University, aims to assist scholars and others in the conservation, imaging, and distribution of ancient documents. CPART is copying significant and rare religious manuscripts to microfilm, photographic, and/or electronic media. The texts themselves are not available online (although a DVD of Syriac manuscripts from the Vatican Library is available for purchase), but the website does give information about the projects with which it is involved, including: the Dead Sea Scrolls Project; Herculaneum Project; Petra Papyrus Project; Bonampak Project; and the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative. Related audio-visual material (including recordings of lectures) is available for some of the projects. The site also gives details of the Center's plans to build an Eastern Christian Research Library. This includes bibliographical information: at time of writing, a Syriac bibliography was available, and a Coptic bibliography was planned.
The Gnostic Society Library website provides a wealth of information for the study of gnosticism. It offers a substantial collection of English translations of primary texts from the gnostic tradition, plus anti-gnostic patristic works. There are over a thousand documents in total, including the Nag Hammadi Library; other Gnostic scriptures and fragments; writings from the Valentinian tradition; the Corpus Hermeticum; and an impressive collection of Manichaean writings. Introductory notes to the material are provided, and there is an annotated bibliography. The site also provides access to a collection of Web lectures on gnosticism. A very valuable site for anyone with an interest in this tradition.
The Humanities Text Initiative (HTI), based at the University of Michigan, is an umbrella organisllent resource, providing online texts for a broad range of subjects, including English literature, philosophy, theology, history and linguistics. The collection contains several versions of the Bible, a version of the Koran and texts in Middle English, as well as modern English. It is possible to search the online text collection in a variety of different manners. Browsing is facilitated by the site's inclusion of two alphabetical lists, arranged by author and also title; it is also possible to view the collection using the Dewey Decimal Classification System. Collaborative projects have resulted in the creation of a number of specialised online texts collections being developed on the HTI's main site. Examples include: the American Verse Project and the Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse. All of the collections are fully searchable.
J.B. Hare established the Internet Sacred Text Archive to make public domain religious and mythological texts available to the interested reader. It brings together material collected by the archive itself with a variety of links from other primary resource sites on the Internet to form one of the largest and far reaching electronic text resources available anywhere. With a somewhat eclectic selection in content, the site includes everything from English translations of the sacred texts of African, Australian, and North American indigenous cultures to Eastern, Neo-Pagan and Occult traditions. Judeo-Christian and Islamic resources are also well represented. The archive is still growing, with new texts added on a regular basis. The need to avoid material which is still in copyright means that many of the translations date from over a hundred years ago, but the variety of resources in translation makes the site invaluable to those lacking extensive foreign language skills who wish to rapidly familiarise themselves with a specific tradition. This site is an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to locate an electronic English-language version of a significant religious text from almost any religious tradition.
The home page for the J. R. Ritman Library (Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica) provides information about the library's collections and activities. This private library (unaffiliated to any university or other institution, but freely accessible to the public) houses materials relating to the Hermetic-Christian tradition (Hermeticism is a set of religious and philosophical beliefs based on a body of writings attributed to the mythical philosopher and alchemist, Hermes Trismegistus). Topics covered include: alchemy; mysticism; Rosicrucianism; and Hermetic philosophy. It is possible to search the library's catalogue online, and a digitisation project is underway, although at time of review the works were not yet available via the website. The site also offers a series of articles on subjects relating to the Hermetic tradition, a bibliography of other relevant works, and access to the library's online exhibitions.
Mormon Publications: 19th Century is an online collection of books, missionary tracts, doctrinal treatises, hymnals, and periodicals. Part of Brigham Young University's Digital Collections, the works offered relate to the history and doctrinal development of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from 1830 until the end of the 19th century. PDF facsimiles of over 700 texts are available, including issues of the Deseret News, the Journal of Discourses, and the Millennial Star. The process of full digitisation is ongoing, but all the titles in the collection have been processed using optical character recognition software, so it is possible to search the full text of each publication. Alternatively, one can browse through the collection as a whole, or through one of the sub-sections accessible via a pull-down menu on the front page. Descriptions of the major items available are also given. A valuable resource for those working in this area of religious history.
Online Critical Pseudepigrapha is a website which offers scholarly electronic versions of Old Testament pseudepigrapha and related literature. For each work, the site aims to provide a critical edition of the text in its original languages, with other ancient translations where applicable (English translations are not generally offered), plus other relevant information such as the text status and contents, details of manuscripts, and so forth. The project is ongoing, and at time of cataloguing not all texts had the full critical apparatus. Scholars with relevant expertise are invited to get involved with the project by digitising, tagging, or proof reading texts. A valuable resource for researchers working in this area.
Theosophical University Press online is a publishing arm of the Theosophical Society. Theosophy (from the Greek 'theos' (god) and 'sophia' (wisdom)) is an esoteric philosophy based on the concept of the essential oneness of all beings. This website contains numerous books and essays by and about H. P. Blavatsky, William Q. Judge and other theosophical writers, including Blavatsky's 'The Key to Theosophy' and 'The Voice of the Silence'. The full texts are available to read online; some can also be accessed as downloadable zip files. Other resources on this site include fifteen introductory theosophical manuals, the online version of Sunrise, the journal of the Theosophical Society, and an Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary - although it is easy to miss this last unless one is looking for it, as the title is hidden among the other works of its editor, G. de Purucker. The majority of the texts are in English, but are offered in Spanish and Russian. Author and title indexes aid navigation, but there does not appear to be a search function.
The TITUS (Thesaurus Indogermanischer Text- und Sprachmaterialien) project Web page is a multilingual online text retrieval system for Indo-European languages. The project started in 1987 with the creation of a digital collection in ancient Indo-European languages. The site contains texts in the following language families: Vedic; Sanskrit; Middle and Modern Indic; Old, middle, and modern Iranian; Anatolian; Tocharian; Armenian; Baltic; Slavic; Germanic; Greek; Italic; Celtic; Caucasian; Uralic; Proto-Cretan; Semitic; and Dravidic. Some material needs special software which is freely available from the site. The site also makes available: teaching material, such as detailed language maps and audio materials; news related to the area of study; the FAQ section; information about jobs in this area of research; an events diary; links to external related projects and institutions; Indo-European courses, mainly in Germany and in Austria; and a bibliography. Technical information, such as Unicode documentation and relevant software, is also available from the site. A number of the texts may be of interest to scholars of religion, including a selection of Buddhist and Hindu works, Avestan (Zoroastrian) texts, and multiple Bible versions, including the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament.) The user should note that the site uses split frames, which can sometimes complicate its navigation.