One of the biggest challenges students seem to face is identifying reputable sources of information. This is particularly true when they are using their favorite resource, the internet, but the problem does not disappear in those few instances when some few bright sparks among them actually enter a library. One suggestion I make (apart from choosing books published in the past half a century – I’m surprised how often students have chosen as their main source a relevant book from almost a century ago) is to look for scholars who have an affiliation with an accredited university and expertise in a relevant field.
It is for this reason that I am particularly dismayed by the deceptive attempt of an organization calling itself “The Jesus Project” and which clearly has a sensationalist agenda (despite its claims to the contrary) to falsely claim the involvement of reputable scholars in relevant fields as part of their research consortium (or whatever it in fact is).
The internet and electronic media are not the problem, just the means. I am delighted to be able to express gratitude to members of the X-Talk discussion list, and to various blogs, for drawing this to our attention. If frauds and urban legends are disseminated ever more widely in our electronic age, those detecting them and combatting them share all the same tools and possibilities.
Returning to the theme of students finding high-quality resources, I’d be perfectly happy if they use resources by any of the genuine scholars of ancient literature and/or the study of the historical Jesus listed on the home page of the Jesus Project. The key is to read something actually by a credible author who is an expert in their field, and not merely something by a group that lists such individuals as participants in a conference or project.