I would love to build the CCEL into a theological library containing
1000 of the most important public-domain works for theological study, containing:
- Around 1000 volumes, selected by
theologians and ministers from a variety of Christian traditions, to cover
important topics for theological study and edification. A premliminary list of books wanted is
available, but much more work must be done to develop it.
- A good Bible translation for study that can be distributed relatively cheaply,
such as the NRSV
- Coverage of topics important for theological students
- Commentaries, dictionaries, lexicons, and other reference works
- Classic sermons and sermon illustrations
- Indexes to the material by scripture reference (WWSB) and topic
- The Bible and other important works in the original languages
- Greek and Hebrew dictionaries and study tools
- Markup of the texts in XML to identify theological subject matter,
scripture references, etc.
- A flexible, easy-to-use search engine
- "Guided tours" or self-study guides on various topics
How will the Library be Distributed?
- It will continue to be freely available on the Internet
- It will be available inexpensively on CD-ROM (or DVD). The
current @CCEL CD-ROM sells for $29
- It will be distributed cheaply or for free to as many English-speaking,
CD-ROM-drive-equipped theologians, ministers, missionaries, and
seminaries in the 2nd and 3rd worlds as possible
- Since the texts are public domain and no copyright will be asserted,
the texts will doubtless appear in many other print and electronic editions,
as is already the case for the texts on the CCEL
What will it take to Get There?
To scan and mark up 1000 volumes of 1MB each, a company might expect
to pay around $3,000,000. In order to do this in a project without
funding, we will have to depend on on contributions, sales of the
CCEL CD-ROM, many hours of volunteer labor, the use of existing
Internet resources, a longer time-frame, hard work motivated by love,
and the grace of God. The current CCEL CD-ROM has around 200 volumes
and is four years in the making; extrapolating suggests a 20-year
Immediate tasks include:
- Selecting a committee of theologians and ministers from a variety
of traditions and developing a bibliography
- Defining an XML-based markup language for representing information
important for on-line bookreading and theological study
- Developing the organizational structure for a theology- or
subject-oriented index to the information
- Writing programs and developing databases to support the indexing,
searching, and organization
- Continuing to find, scan, and proofread the 1000 texts
How can I Help?
- Tax-deductable contributions can be made to the CCEL, Deptartment
of Math and Computer Science, Wheaton College, Wheaton IL 60187.
- Purchase the CCEL CD-ROM. Give one to a friend. Make sure your
favorite bookstore carries it. Review it for a magazine.
- Anyone with important electronic texts in Greek, Hebrew, and
Latin should let me know about them. Better still, if know one of
those languages, would be to type in a text.
- If you download, print, and read one of the books on the CCEL,
circle any possible typos and send the printout to me for correction.
- Eventually, there will be a need for many students of theology to
identify and mark theological topic and scripture references in texts.
Will it really happen?
Humanly speaking, it seems unlikely. On the other hand, four years ago
I would never have expected to be working with old theological texts,
let alone maintaining a library accessed millions of times a year or
producing a CD-ROM and distributing it worldwide. God has paved the
So, it is clear that the project will happen at least in reduced
form, because it is happening, through the grace of God. Pray
that it will continue to progress. It may be the most significant
advance in theological libraries since Gutenberg.
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