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Information Resources and Services for:
REL 113: Religion in America

Spring 2012
Finding Sources

The resources listed on this page will help you with both major research tasks you need to complete for class. Use the Finding Secondary Sources section to locate a third article for your research. Use the Researching Biblical Passages section to find commentaries. If you have any problems, questions or want to talk further about your research, stop by the Reference Desk or contact me at jgilber2@gustavus.edu.




Table of Contents:

Finding Secondary Sources
  • Cited References Search
    As you find books and articles, be sure to mine their references for sources. By tracing cited works you're drawing on the evidence others have used and may find connections that you would otherwise miss. You will also see patterns emerge: works cited by everyone else are worth a look; authors who write a lot about your topic are worth searching by name, etc.

    Search for cited books by title or author in library catalogs; for journal articles, check the Journal Locator by journal name to see if we have an article you want. Several databases also include features telling you how often a work has been cited. You don't need to find a book or article on the computer to request it through interlibrary loan. Simply use the reference you have to fill out a form for either a book or a journal article. These forms are linked on the Interlibrary Loan page below. (For essays in a book, ask for the book.)
    • Google Scholar
      This search engine points toward scholarly research rather than all Web-based sources. Google Scholar is excellent for cited reference searches because it will tell you the number of times an item has been cited, plus it will link you to those citing items. If you are using Google Scholar on campus, you will find articles available through the library's subscription databases linked. To view these links when searching off campus, use our Google Scholar Off Campus Link. Not all of the articles in Google Scholar are free; the library can obtain many of them for you through interlibrary loan.
  • ATLA Religion Database & ATLA Serials
    A comprehensive research database in the fields of religion and theology produced by the American Theological Library Association. Includes bibliographic citations and abstracts to journal articles from over 1,500 titles, citations to essays and book chapters, book reviews, and Doctor of Ministry projects. Many journal articles and book reviews are also available in full text.
    1949-present; updated quarterly
  • Old Testament Abstracts
    Old Testament Abstracts is a product of a partnership between ATLA and the Catholic Biblical Association. The database features indexing and abstracts for journal articles, monographs, multi-author works, and software related to Old Testament studies. Content from over 450 journals is covered. All abstracts are in English, regardless of the language of the original work. Topics covered include antiquities, archaeology, biblical theology, philology and much more. Coverage in the database dates back to 1978. (description from EBSCOHost)
    1978-present
  • New Testament Abstracts
    New Testament Abstracts Online is a product of a partnership between ATLA and the Weston Jesuit School of Theology. The database is an indispensable research and bibliographic aid for scholars, librarians, clergy and students of the New Testament and its historical milieu. The database contains more than 38,000 article abstracts, 1,200 review abstracts, 13,500 book abstracts, and 50 software abstracts. Each year an additional 2,100 articles from more than 500 periodicals in numerous languages are selected for inclusion. In addition, approximately 800 current books are also summarized annually. Article coverage in the database dates back to 1985. (description from EBSCOHost)
  • Catholic Periodical & Literature Index
    The Catholic Periodical and Literature Index Online is the product of a partnership between ATLA and the Catholic Library Association. The database covers all aspects of the Catholic faith and lifestyle, and includes over 380,000 index citations of articles and reviews published in Roman Catholic periodicals, Papal documents, church promulgations, and books about the Catholic faith that are authored by Catholics and/or produced by Catholic publishers. Indexing for CPLI Online corresponds to the print version, The Catholic Periodical and Literature Index, published by the Catholic Library Association and covers content from over 200 periodicals. Coverage in the database dates back to 1981. (description from EBSCOHost)
    1981-present
Popular vs. Scholarly Works
Use this guide to help you determine if your book or article is a scholarly work. If you're stuck, visit with a reference librarian or talk with your professor; often it's easiest to make the call when you consult with an expert.

Researching Biblical Passages
There are a few key ways to find biblical commentaries in our library. The first is to use the commentaries that are in the Reference section, listed below. (The New Interpreter's Bible Commentary is exceptionally useful.) The second way is to search the library catalog to find commentaries in the General Collection - as a bonus, you can check these out! The third way is to use the ATLA Religion database scripture search.
  • Biblical Commentaries in the Reference Section
    These are all excellent sources; some are much more detailed than others. The New Interpreter's Biblical Commentary is especially useful.
    • Anchor Bible Dictionary
      New York: Doubleday 1992
      This definitive and current work covers not only names, places, and events of the Bible, but also includes cultural history, social institutions, archeological sites, and other topics of particular interest to Biblical scholars today.
      • Location(s): Ref BS 440 .A54 (6 vol)
    • Harper's Bible Commentary
      San Francisco, CA: Harper and Row 1988
      Follows the arrangement of the Bible, giving a brief introduction to each book of the Bible, then a short explanation of major passages. It is very good at making the language of the Bible clear, explaining context, and linking related passages together.
      • Location(s): Ref BS 491.2 .H37 1988
    • New Interpreter's Bible
      Nashville, TN: Abingdon 1994
      Provides the text in two translations, NRSV and New International Version, side by side. Following the texts, there are sections of scholarly commentary and reflections.
      • Location(s): Ref BS 491.2 .N484 1994
    • The New Jerome Biblical Commentary
      Englewood Cliffs, NJ : Prentice-Hall 1990
      • Location(s): Ref. BS491.2 .N485 1990
    • Oxford Bible Commentary
      Oxford ; Oxford University Press 2001
      • Location(s): Ref BS491.3 .O94 2001
    • Women's Bible Commentary
      Louisville, KY : Westminster John Knox Press 1998 Expanded ed. edition
      With essays written by Biblical Scholars who are also women, this commentary looks at the different books of the Bible from the feminist perspective. The essays focus on the passages of each book which are "of particular relevance to women".
      • Location(s): Ref BS491.2 .W66 1998
  • Bible Commentaries in the General Collection
    This includes multi-volume series where each volume is a commentary on a book of the Bible, as well as separately published commentaries on individual Biblical books. To search the catalog effectively, go to the Advanced Search screen. Enter the word "commentaries" in on search box, and set the drop down menu to Subject. Then enter the name of your book of the Bible (like Matthew or Genesis) in another search box. Then search & see what you find.
    • Anchor Bible Commentary Series
      New York : Doubleday
      This series of commentaries covers books from the OT and NT. These are shelved together in the general collection. Note that some books may be covered in two volumes, numbered 40 and 40A.
      • Location(s): General Collection: BS192.2.A1 (44 vol)
    • Hermeneia Series
      Philadelphia : Fortress Press
      This is a series of commentaries on different books of the Bible. To locate these, search in the catalog for the series title and the title of a book of the Bible (ex. "Hermeneia" and "Hosea").
      • Location(s): General Collection - Various Locations
    • Old Testament Library
      Louisville, Ky. : Westminster John Knox Press
      This series of commentaries covers only books of the Old Testament. These are not shelved together - to locate one of these, search the catalog for the series title, the title of the book, and the publisher.
      • Location(s): General Collection - Various Locations
  • ATLA Religion Database Scripture Search
    To search for commentaries in ATLA, you can click on "Scriptures" on the very top navigation bar. Scroll & expand to find commentaries on your particular verses.
    • ATLA Religion Database & ATLA Serials
      A comprehensive research database in the fields of religion and theology produced by the American Theological Library Association. Includes bibliographic citations and abstracts to journal articles from over 1,500 titles, citations to essays and book chapters, book reviews, and Doctor of Ministry projects. Many journal articles and book reviews are also available in full text.
      1949-present; updated quarterly
Interlibrary Loan
For information on requesting books and articles from other libraries, visit our Interlibrary Loan page.

Need to Bounce Ideas Around?
  • Ask a reference librarian!
    You can always contact me by e-mail (Julie Gilbert - jgilber2 @ gustavus . edu) or talk to any of the librarians, who universally rock.


    If you're in the library, chatting with a reference librarian face to face might be easiest, but if you're not in the library this chat form gives you a way to ask a quick question. It works during the hours that a librarian is working at the reference desk - generally between 10 am and 10 pm but with breaks and never on Saturday (but yes, we are around on Sunday, 2pm until 10pm.) If you don't get an answer right away, the librarian is probably busy helping someone else but he or she will eventually get back to you.



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