- Buddhist-Christian Scholarship and the World Wide Web
The Internet and the World Wide Web have had an enormous effect on academic scholarship by transforming the way scholars conduct research and publish its results. But for some, the ease of access to information offered by the Web is more than offset by the difficulty of identifying which Web research resources and publications are authoritative and which are not. Before the Web, high-quality scholarship could be easily identified because it appeared in carefully edited books and peer-reviewed journals produced by recognized publishers and collected by academic libraries. This is still the case, of course, but the Web now offers a parallel universe of research resources largely lacking the same identifying marks of quality and authority. In an effort to provide some guidance in navigating this realm, which still feels much more like the wild frontier than a library, I will attempt to list some of the basic Web resources in Buddhist and Christian scholarship and provide some guidelines for locating authoritative material beyond the basic sources. I will list the websites mentioned in the following paragraphs with their Web addresses (also called uniform resource locators, or URLs) at the end of this article.
Beginning with resources for both Christian and Buddhist scholarship, researchers in religious studies should be familiar with the ATLA Religion Database, which includes the American Theological Library Association's print indexes Religion Index One, Religion Index Two, and Index to Book Reviews in Religion. Indexing journals and book collections of essays, but not monographs, it has proven to be an indispensable tool. However, it goes back only to 1949, and therefore other indexes would need to be consulted. During the course of the previous century, Western philosophers became more aware of the great philosophers of Asia. This is reflected in the Philosopher's Index, a tool that indexes journal articles, essays, and monographs. Its coverage goes back to 1940. A more specialized index, the Buddhist-Christian Studies Database (BCSD), is available as a free site. As its editor, I welcome any citation submissions for published articles, essays, and books as well as unpublished conference papers. Any papers residing on a stable website can be linked to BCSD in order to provide [End Page 111] immediate access. Still in the process of being created, its coverage will go back only to 1981.
Because much of the indexing available on the Web concentrates on the most recent decades, the researcher who needs indexes for articles published earlier than the 1940s will need to take the time to become familiar with a number of other potentially useful tools. One example is Periodical Index Online, an interdisciplinary index (mostly humanities) with coverage going back to the late eighteenth century. Another is Humanities and Social Sciences Index Retrospective, 1907–1984.
Important reference works on the Web include the Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd ed.; the New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed.; and the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, all Web versions of the multivolume sets.
I should add that the works listed thus far require subscriptions, but most research libraries have acquired access to them.
Two important free reference works should be mentioned: the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Catholic Encyclopedia. The latter title is the Web version of the print set published in the early twentieth century, and as such it offers an interesting comparison to its post-Vatican II version, the New Catholic Encyclopedia. Topics appearing in both works can be compared to see how thinking changed during that critical fifty-year period.
Scholarship of the Christian tradition is well served by the availability of authoritative primary texts on the Web. The major resources are the Patrologia Latina Database, the Patriologiae Graecae, and more recent critical editions in the Library of Latin Texts, which provides the most important patristic works, an extensive corpus of Medieval Latin literature, and works of recentior latinitas including texts from the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. The texts have been taken from Brepols's Corpus Christianorum series and from other important editions. Images of original sixteenth- and seventeenth-century book pages as well as their more easily readable digitized contents are available in two resources...