Free Open Source Old Testament Textbook project

From AKMA and Mark I learned that Brooke Lester had asked his Facebook friends, “I know the answer before I ask, but: Do we have no good, critical, open-access Intro to Old Testament textbooks?”

I have no idea what Brooke said, because this conversation is not on Anuma, and I’m not in the favoured few friended on Facebook. But both Mark and AKMA’s replies are brilliant, and brilliantly different. I read AKMA’s first, and he outlines exactly how such a project, that he calls FOSOTT Free Open Source Old Testament Textbook project would work. Basically with different people contributing chapters, and eventually a collection of variant chapters offering different perspectives and approaches to choose from and build your own textbook. As AKMA points out most of the infrastructure is ready and print on demand would make paper copies easily obtainable. I also love AKMA’s suggestion of podcast editions, short video intros and other optional extras. I’d add three details that I did not notice in AKMA’s presentation (which you must read!) some form of peer review or selection of authors1 so that the quality is not compromised and an archive of earlier editions so that versions are stable and therefore citable2 Thirdly I’d like to see strong guidelines for authors so that there is a measure of consistency in the topics treated and headings used, because such a straitjacket though a crimp on authors’ creativity would make life easier for poor beginning students ;)

Mark’s suggestion is a beefed up and focused version of his NT Gateway (or perhaps more precisely of Chris Heard’s iTanakh) such a site, collaboratively curated, that pointed students to suitable selected material already available on the web would also be brilliant.It has the advantage of avoiding the need for yet more spiffy wheel designs, but the disadvantages of lack of consistency and difficult printability.

I can envisage using both in different ways. FOSOTT as a textbook, that students are required to read selected chapters from week by week, they can choose whether to read online or buy a print copy, and the beginner focused Gateway site as a suggested further reading resource.

I therefore volunteer to write a chapter for FOSOTT, I can start writing at the end of next year (2011) when my current writing projects end, and if FOSOTT gets underway would prioritise it over another “volume” of HBC or other projects.

  1. Notice that here I strongly disagree with a commenter who suggested starting the textbook as a Wiki – not because I don’t like Wikipedia, I love it, but because there is so much crud “biblical” material around and I want a resource I can use to help my students see what “good” looks like! []
  2. As a teacher I need this so that I can check students bizarre quotations in their essays. []

3 comments on “Free Open Source Old Testament Textbook project

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