Expanding Your Research Materials, Part 3

The past couple weeks, we’ve focused on expanding your research materials by using libraries. This might take the form of using libraries that are simply near you or where you might be able to use ILL. Or, if you’re at a school, you might be able to use that school’s library better, including its ebook collection.

As critical as libraries are, however, you shouldn’t limit your research to them. Instead, there are a number of helpful online resources you can use to gain access to key materials. In this post, we’ll discuss the first two.

Laptop on a desk with books and other materialsImage by Freddie Marriage

Internet Archive

Internet Archive is a non-profit organization that is “building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form.”

You might be familiar with Internet Archive from its “wayback machine,” which periodically captures websites over the course of their development. It can be amusing to go back and look at early versions of sites for companies that now have a significant Internet presence (e.g., Apple, Google, Walmart).

But, Internet Archive also has an incredibly useful repository of scanned, public-domain books. Searching Internet Archive can sometimes be a bit unwieldy. The metadata can be a bit off. So, you do have to look at the scans themselves to confirm you’re getting what you’re looking for.

Even so, a few of the gems I’ve found there over the years include, in whole or in part:

Church History
The translation of Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province
Alban Butler’s Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints
A Greek text for Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho

Classics
E. M. Cope’s introduction to Aristotle’s Rhetoric
Benedict Niese’s edition of Josephus’s works
(Pseudo-)Cicero’s Rhetorica ad Herennium

Language
The 28th German edition of Wilhelm Gesenius’s Hebrew Grammar
The 8th edition of Henry Liddell, Robert Scott, and Henry Jones’s Greek lexicon
Marcus Jastrow’s Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature

New Testament
Hermann Strack and Paul Billerbeck’s Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch
John Lightfoot’s Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica

Textual Criticism
Frederick Field’s edition of Origen’s Hexapla
Pierre Sabatier’s edition of the Old Latin
A facsimile of Codex Sarravianus
Johannes Geffcken’s critical edition of the Sibylline Oracles
The larger Cambridge Septuagint
Alfred Rahlf’s volume on the Lucianic recension of Kings

Other
C. F. Keil and Franz Delitzsch’s Old Testament commentary
Edward Robinson’s Biblical Researches in Palestine
Theodor Zahn’s Romans commentary

True, some of these resources took some time looking to hunt up on Internet Archive. But, Internet Archive made getting access to them much simpler and faster than it would otherwise have been.

Books.logos.com

Similarly, books.logos.com has a growing collection of over 8,000 full-text resources.

Accessing these titles is free during the beta period, and you don’t need to have purchased a Logos base package to use books.logos.com.

But, users who have the desktop software installed can search books.logos.com directly from there via an “everything” search. You can then click through one of the pages shown with results to pick up there reading the full text on books.logos.com.

Desktop search of books.logos.com

Conclusion

In a 1524 letter about the importance of Christian schools, Martin Luther pressed the importance of biblical languages. A few of his comments are no less apt for the kind of research tools we’ve begun considering here:

O how happy the dear fathers would have been if they had had our opportunity to study the languages and come thus prepared to the Holy Scriptures! What great toil and effort it cost them to gather up a few crumbs, while we with half the labor—yes, almost without any labor at all—can acquire the whole loaf!1

Sure, it might take some culling through search results to find what you need. But by comparison to how searching like this has needed to be done in the past, tools like Internet Archive and books.logos.com can both make some parts of the research process much faster and some of the materials involved available much more broadly than they might otherwise be.

Spend some time searching Internet Archive and books.logos.com for a relevant older text(s). What did you find that interested you?


  1. Quoted in Gary Pratico and Miles Van Pelt, Basics of Biblical Hebrew, 119.