Free open-source textbook project: call for participation

A while back a number of us talked about producing a free open-source textbook to the Hebrew Bible/OldTestament/TaNaK/whatever you call it today. Since that first flurry the idea has quietly dropped. However, also since then I find I have one day a week next semester to do with as I please, and even more time next year :)

So, I would like to put some of that time into this project. In order to start this rolling I want to do two things:

  1. Gather a small group to be the editorial team: this group would correspond by email in private and take the final decisions, its members should be established teachers willing to spend at least a little time thinking and planning, and perhaps some more in bursts on editing tasks (though if we could get funding this might largely be outsourced). To nominate yourself or someone else please either comment here or write to me: tim at
  2. Begin and sustain a wider discussion of the parameters of the project: that is I hope the blogging community will contribute criticism and ideas that will inform the editors decisions. I’ll begin this here.

Some items for early decision.


We need to decide the scope of the project, in at least two ways:

  • Do we deal with the Hebrew or Greek canon? (I think this one is easy, put the first priority with the shorter Hebrew canon, and extend to enable a version that includes the rest when contributors permit.)
  • Is the textbook to be sectarian? By “sectarian” I am thinking of sects both religious: Jewish, Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant…, and scholarly: minimalist, maximalist, etc…   (I think a similar approach might be possible. In the first instance the core chapters would try to take a non-sectarian line, and we might deliberately ask  for a reviewer from different “sects” from the author to ensure at least fairness, if not the mythical “balance”. While, once the basic chapter is written, anyone might add to it a section that suggested how this information becomes a INSERT SECT ADJECTIVE reading.)

There will be issues of size etc. but they can be discussed later.


Since the first suggestion, by Brooke on Facebook and AKMA in his blog, we have been calling this FOSOTT (Free Open-source Old Testament Textbook). While I like the acronym, and the meaning, I am less sure about designating the object of study as “Old Testament”. This is a sectarian description. I am sure different instructors can use different terms for their classes, a simple search and replace would enable one to use different terms throughout. But what name, for this rose we study, should we use in the project title?

Peer review:

Above I have mentioned reviewers, I think this work, in its “canonical” form should be peer-reviewed. As I suggested above I think for a textbook chapter such a review process might help ensure less bias and better balance, while hopefully not stiffling individuality… but I imagine others may think differently.


Like AKMA I think a CC license is the obvious choice, for me too attribution is a minimum. But he preferred non-commercial, and I would go for even greater openness…


Are we thinking text plus pictures, like a conventional print work, or will we build in the possibility of a richer electronic edition with internal and external links, video and sound… (My take is that we ask for a basic text-plus-pictures, but also seek to produce in parallel a richer electronic edition, the “print format” version could include the links to media on the project site in print format.)

Earlier discussion of this idea:

FOSOTT (Free and Open Source Old Testament Textbook)

Open Access Intro to OT

The Shortcomings of Traditional Textbooks in the Digital Age, and Our Invitation

Funding Neopublishing

multiauthor multiple possibility neotextbook

Several posts on this blog (posts in reverse chronological order :(

Open Access, Open Source, and Open Ended Textbooks

I know I have missed bookmarking quite a few contributions, so please let me know and I will add a link to yours :)

3 comments on “Free open-source textbook project: call for participation

  1. David Haslam

    Creative Commons is the way to go on this.

    Just like another Tim is advocating for Open Source Discipleship resources.


    1. tim

      Oh, yes. The only question is which license. I favour a a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License but others may argue for something more restrictive like Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

      The key decisions here are:

      • allow commercial use or not
      • allow remixing or maintain purity of content
      • require share-alike or allow modifications to be closed resources – I can’t see anyone arguing for this but who knows?
  2. Pingback: Conversations Around the Blogosphere | Exploring Our Matrix