TITLE: Internet Sacred Text Archive

Access: http://www.sacred-texts.com/index.htm

Internet Sacred Text Archive or Sacred-Texts contains a non-profit archive of religious texts privately maintained by J.B. Hare of Santa Cruz, CA and is not affiliated with any religious organization or institution. The main index, which offers "a quiet place in cyberspace devoted to religious tolerance and scholarship," lists three general links: World Religions, Traditions, and Mysteries. "World Religions" contains the primary text(s) from the major traditions. There are also links to secondary sources.

Scholarship in religious studies divides the world's primary religions into three main groups: Western monotheism (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism), religions of South Asia (Hinduism and Buddhism) and the "third stream" of Chinese religion (Confucianism and Taoism, and perhaps Shintoism). Sacred-Texts does the patron a service by including all of these traditions under "World Religions." Since no annotation is provided, some perspective is necessary in navigating the site. "Buddhism" contains links to both Zen and Tibetan Buddhism but no mention is made of Theraveda Buddhism, the more conservative branch of Buddhism. The only English Bible available under "Christianity" is the seventeenth-century King James Version. "Islam" includes the Koran and a link to Sufism (an ascetic and mystical Muslim sect). However, no distinction is made between the two main branches of Islam, Sunni and Shi'ite.

The second link, "Traditions," leads the researcher to "Australian" (Aboriginal texts), "African Religions" (broken down into Bantu, West and South African, and Caribbean) "Egyptian" (including the authoritative translation of "The Book of the Dead" by Wallis Budge), "Legends and Sagas" (including Arthurian, Celtic, and Icelandic materials), and "Native American" (including Aztec, Cherokee, Hopi, Navajo and Zuni legends) resources. In cases where no primary texts are available (as in Shamanism or certain African tribal religions), the oral traditions have been retold and transcribed.

The third link, "Mysteries," contains materials also found on the "World Religion" under the heading "Paganism." Material such as the predictions of Nostradamus and the tales of Atlantis are located here. Curiously, the mystery religions from Greece and the Mediterranean are omitted.

The main page contains a site map, which lists the links alphabetically. Sacred-Texts, while easy to navigate, does not lend itself to browsing. At some point, the Internet searcher is going to need a concordance or a guide to the primary texts. Many of the texts are also available to purchase as PDF files or on CD-ROM. Sacred-Texts is a valuable resource for what it purports to provide: an archive of primary religious texts.

Wendell Johnson
Waubonsee Community College
wjohnson@mail.wcc.cc.il.us


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