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These letters refer to the SBL Forum articles on Wiki's:

The Blue Cord Bible Dictionary
by Kevin A. Wilson

Ethical Issues in Pedagogy: Wikipedia
by Janet M. Giddings

Wikipedia or Wackipedia? On the Reasoned Use of New Technology
by Taylor David Halverson

Who knows? Wikipedia, Teaching and Research
by Holger Szesnat


Dear Friends at SBL,

In response to the caution expressed in some of the current articles on the subject of wikis in general and Wikipedia, I offer my limited experience.

I always knew the nature of the Wikipedia site. In my first and only (to date) Bible Study class, I used Wikipedia extensively with a sort of caveat emptor approach: before relying on any article or even statement within an article, I checked the linked sources. For myself, I found that I could tell immediately whether the cited sources were worth relying upon or not.

Used that way, Wikipedia is a convenient search engine capable of a more nuanced search than a pure search engine, but fraught with all of the same risks. It might be useful for educators to require a second tier of citation for every  Wikipedia reference to help weed out the misinformation or worse.

Naomi Paz Greenberg, student,Forest Hills, NY


Dear Dr. Halverson,
Good reasoning.  I appreciate your suggestion of allowing the use of Wikipedia only if another (hardcopy/valid) source is used, compared AND understood for a reasoned presentation, etc.  There are many web sites that are available to college and seminary students that make study far different than when I was such a student.  I'm a seventy year old student and teacher and have benefited from the wealth of resources that have not required monetary outlay of the resources in hard copy (printed form).  Nonetheless, I still over spend on books every year though I foolishly thought I'd quit buying books when I retired.  Not only are my shelves and floor filled with books, but my computer is filled with scholarly, and not so scholarly, resources {Bibles, Biblical resources, Christian books and Jewish resources, plus links to multiple web sites in those categories}.  It is great joy to be a perpetual student.

I have said on a number of occasions that I wish the resources available today were available 50 years ago.  Most students, I suspect, do not know the wealth that is at their fingertips.  Hard copies will keep libraries in business for years to come and students must learn the difference and significance of both hard copies and technological resources.  It would be tragic if students become technological smart and hard copy (book) ignorant!

All this gets me to wondering in another area:  I wonder what would happen if a college or seminary would ask their potential graduate to allow their computer to be examined. Knowing some of the trash that is out there in cyber space from what I've heard (and no, I've not gone peeking) and even seeing some of the games my children and grandchildren have played, the real problem may not be the valid use of technology, but the waste of time and brain.  I would even think that candidates for professorships and church staff out to be asked to submit their computer to examination.

Rev. Larin R. Kerr, Port Orchard, WA

Citation: Larin R. Kerr, " Letters on the"Wikipedia" Articles," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited Jan 2007]. Online:


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