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Resources for Religion

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Religion is a wide-ranging discipline which considers questions of the history, theology, ethical framework, and scriptural authorities of religions as well as the influence of ideas, institutions, and experiences of religious traditions on society. The methodologies of the field draw from history, archaeology, sociology, and other fields, making it an interdisciplinary field of study. This guide to research sources for the study of religion includes many reference books, specialized indexes, and Internet sites, but it is not complete; please don't hesitate to ask a librarian for help if you aren't finding what you need. Also, never underestimate the power of browsing. If you find a book that's of interest, scan the shelves nearby. Books in our library are shelved by topic, so chances are you'll find other related materials right next door.

Table of Contents:

Indexes and Databases
  • 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
  • Academic Search Premier
    The world's largest academic multi-disciplinary database, Academic Search Premier indexes nearly 8,050 publications and provides full text for nearly 4,600, including more than 3,500 peer-reviewed journals. Coverage also includes many newspapers and popular magazines and spans virtually every area of academic study since 1975. Updated daily. Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM). View our Academic Search Premier tutorial.
    1975-present; updated daily
  • Biblical Archaeology Society Online Archive
    Search and browse the full text of 8 religion books and journals published by the Biblical Archaeology Society, including the Biblical Archaeology Review and the Bible Review.
    1975-present; updated monthly
    Full-text backfiles to over 350 scholarly journals from more than 25 academic disciplines published between the 19th and 21st centuries in the JSTOR Arts & Sciences I, Arts & Sciences II, and Language & Literature collections. JSTOR provides complete journal backruns from the date of initial publication up to a "moving wall" of 3 to 5 years before the present year. To limit your search to full text articles, make sure that the option to "include links to external content" is turned off.
    1831-recent years
  • 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)
  • 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)
Reference Works
  • Places to Find General Facts and Background
    • Historical Atlas of the Religions of the World
      New York: Macmillan 1974
      Provides a geographical framework for the understanding of world religions, past and present. It features significant descriptive text along with maps.
      • Location(s): Ref BL 80.2 .F28
    • Encyclopedia of Religion
      Detroit: Macmillan Reference 2005 2nd ed. edition
      Covers religions from around the world and through history as well as people and ideas related to religion. The articles are written by experts in their fields and include excellent bibliographies. This new edition includes hundreds of new articles, thoroughly revised coverage of all topics in religion, and a handful of "visual essays" that illustrate visual culture as a significant aspect of religion.
      • Location(s): Ref BL 31 .E46 2005
  • Reference sources on particular religious traditions
    • Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices
      Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio 2002
      Offers short articles on countries and on religious denominations. 4 vols.
      • Location(s): Ref BL 80.3 .R45 2002
    • Cambridge History of Christianity
      Cambridge UP 2006
      A detailed chronological overview of the history of Christianity, including social, political, and regional aspects as well as theological. The chapters are written by experts in each topic area covered.
      • Location(s): Ref BR 141 .C36 2006
    • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
      Oxford University Press 2000 2nd edition
      Describes various aspects of Christian religion and life, including theology, patristic scholarship, churches and denominations, the church calendar and organization, and the Bible.
    • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions
      Oxford University Press 2000 2nd edition
      Contains entries on world religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Shinto, Sikhism, and Taoism. Also covers various movements, sects and cults. Includes entries on the sacred writings of religions worldwide, and short biographies of founders, leaders, gurus, philosophers, mystics, and heretics.
    • Encyclopaedia Judaica
      Detroit: Macmillan Reference 2007 2nd ed. edition
      An excellent source for information on the Jewish people and religion, offering scholarly and in-depth articles, recently updated to include current research on historical and contemporary topics.
      • Location(s): Ref DS 102.8 .E496 2007
    • Encyclopedia of Buddhism
      New York: Macmillan Reference 2004
      Essays cover a variety of topics related to Buddhism.
      • Location(s): Ref BQ 128 .E62 2004
    • Encyclopedia of Early Christianity
      New York: Garland 1990
      Focusing on the early years of the Christian Church, this handbook is a good place to find short discussions of people, places, topics, and texts.
      • Location(s): Ref BR 162.2 .E53 1990
    • Encyclopedia of the Early Church
      New York: Oxford 1992
      A highly scholarly encyclopedia of concepts, institutions, people, and events related to the early church in two volumes. Articles are written by specialists and include detailed bibliographies. Particularly useful for history and iconography.
      • Location(s): Ref BR 66.5 .D5813 1992
    • Encyclopedia of Hinduism
      Provides detailed information about Hinduism; entries contain biblographies
      • Location(s): Ref BL 1105 .E53 2008
    • Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World
      New York: Macmillan Reference 2004
      Provides an overview of individuals, concepts, and topics related to Islam.
      • Location(s): Ref BP 40 .E525 2004
    • Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion
      Washington, D.C.: CQ 2007 2nd ed. edition
      Offers overview articles on a wide variety of topics including places, people, faith traditions, and controversial issues such as creationism.
      • Location(s): Ref BL 65 .P7 E53 2007
    • Encyclopedia of Protestantism
      New York: Routledge 2004
      Covers creeds, cultural and social issues, important people and institutions, theology, and the diverse traditions and faith groups that make up protestantism, both historically and in contemporary times.
      • Location(s): Ref BX 4811.3 .E53 2004
    • Encyclopedia of Taoism
      This two volume work provides an overview of Taoism; entries contain bibliographies, which can help in locating other sources
      • Location(s): Ref BL1920 .E539 2008
    • The Oxford Dictionary of Saints
      Oxford University Press
      Provides accounts of the lives, cults, relationships through patronage, and artistic associations of more than one thousand saints.
    • Dictionary of Native American Mythology
      Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio 1992
      A quick place to locate basic information about figures, events, and topics in Native North American mythology, from all tribes and periods. Includes a useful bibliography.
      • Location(s): Ref E 98 .R3 G46 1992
    • New Catholic Encyclopedia
      Detroit: Gale 2002
      This recently-revised encyclopedia covers many general topics, but is particularly thorough in its coverage of Catholic doctrine, history, and traditional practice. Includes many illustrations.
      • Location(s): Ref BX 841 .N44 2002
    • The Oxford Dictionary of Popes
      Oxford University Press
      Provides biographical accounts in chronological order of all the officially recognized popes from St. Peter to John Paul II.
    • Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World
      New York: Oxford 2009
      Covers countries of the Islamic world and topics related to Islamic religion, history, and culture. Articles are lengthy and scholarly as well as up-to-date.
      • Location(s): Ref DS 35.53 .O96 2009
  • Reference works focusing on religion in America
    • Contemporary American Religion
      Macmillan 1999
      Contains over 500 short articles on facets of American religious life, including organizations, movements, practices, trends, and beliefs.
      • Location(s): Ref BL 2525 .C65 1999
    • Encyclopedia of African American Religions
      New York: Garland 1993
      Offers substantial articles on people, organizations, churches, and topics such as "preaching and the preacher in African American Religion" and "theology, black." Includes chronology and introductory essays as well as a thorough bibliography.
      • Location(s): Ref BR 563 .E53 1993
    • Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience
      New York: Scribner's 1988
      Contains substantial articles surveying religions, cultural context, issues, and other broad topics, each with a helpful bibliography for further research.
      • Location(s): Ref BL 2525 .E53 1988
    • Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States
      Volume one contains entries about Islam in the United States; volume two contains primary documents and further investigations into topics such as citizenship, gender, and September 11.
      • Location(s): Ref BP67 .U6 E53 2007
    • Encyclopedia of Religion in America
      CQ Press 2010
      Covers a broad range of historical and contemporary topics related to religion in America and includes extensive bibliographies
      • Location(s): Ref BL 2525 .E52 2010 (4 vols.)
    • Handbook of Denominations in the United States
      Nashville: Abingdon Press 2001
      An excellent one-stop reference for overviews of denominations.
      • Location(s): Ref BL 2525 .M425 2005
    • Hispanic American Religious Cultures
      ABC-CLIO 2009
      Presents information on the diversity of Hispanic American religious expression, including historical development and current trends.
      • Location(s): Ref BL2525 .H57 2009 (2 vols.)
    • Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America
      Westport, CT: Greenwood 2006
      A five-volume set that contains in-depth articles covering various aspects of American religions movements, ranging from alternative forms of Asian, African, Christian, and Jewish religions to considerations of New Age, Neopagan, and social aspects of alternative religions, such as gender, violence, legal aspects, and Millenialism.
      • Location(s): Ref BL 2525 .I58 2006
    • Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions
      Gale 2009
      Essays provide overviews of major trends in religion in the United States and Canada, along with detailed descriptions of 24 major religious traditions
      • Location(s): Ref BL 2525 .M449 2009
    • Religion and American Cultures
      Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio 2003
      Coverage in Volume 1 includes the intersection of culture and various religions in American life. Volume 2 addresses how religions approach various topics such as sacred space, the body, and death. Volume 3 contains a variety of primary source material.
      • Location(s): Ref BL 2525 .R448 2003
  • Reference works on the Bible
    • 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)
    • The Books of the Bible
      New York: Scribner's 1989
      Focuses on treating the books of the Bible ans texts, emphasizing their literary nature and structure, discussing origins, content, purpose, and theological interpretations of each book.
      • Location(s): Ref BS 540 .B62 1989
    • Dictionary of the Bible
      Oxford University Press
      Provides information about the books of the Bible, customs, religions and worship, history, and theology, important places, and personalities.
    • 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
    • NRSV Concordance
      Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan 1991
      One of several concordances available in the library, this volume provides an index of all occurrences of all words in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.
      • Location(s): Ref BS 425 .K645 1991
    • Oxford Companion to the Bible
      New York: Oxford 1993
      A handy reference volume for key people, places, events, concepts, institutions, and circumstances of biblical times.
      • Location(s): Ref BS 440 .M434 1993
Browsing for Books
Books are shelved in general subject categories using the Library of Congress classification system. You may want to supplement your use of the catalog with browsing shelf areas for your topic. Below is a brief listing of some of the subject locations in the field of religion.
  • BL Religions. Mythology.
  • BM Judaism
  • BP Islam
  • BQ Buddhism
  • BR Christianity
  • BS The Bible
  • BT Theology


Print journals are housed in the periodicals collection on the first floor of the library.
  • American Journal of Theology and Philosophy
  • Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research
  • Catholic Biblical Quarterly
  • Christian Century
    This magazine contains news articles, book reviews, editorials, and advertisements for Christian books and educational opportunities.
  • Christianity Today
  • Church History
  • Cithara
  • Commonweal
  • Dialogue and Alliance
  • Harvard Theological Review
  • Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology
  • Japanese Religions
  • Jerusalem Report
  • Journal of Biblical Literature
  • Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion
  • Journal of Law and Religion
  • Journal of the American Academy of Religion
  • LWF Documentation
    v.10 (2003)-
  • Near Eastern Archaeology
  • New Testament Studies
  • Scottish Journal of Theology
  • Theological Studies
  • Theology Today
  • Tikkun
  • Union Seminary Quarterly Review
  • Word and World
  • General Resources
    • Religion Writers Resource Library
      Though aimed at journalists, this site offers links to many source of information on religion and culture. Particularly good for issues in contemporary religion, popular culture, and ethics.
  • News
    • Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
      A good source for religious and spiritual issues in current events as well as analysis of ethical issues that relate to religion and public affairs.
    • Religion Newswriters Association
      Provides news on religion, ethics, spirituality, and moral issues; the "reference library" section includes information on faith traditions, social issues, and more.
  • Online Texts
    • CDRI: Digital Resources for the Study of Religion
      From the American Theological Library Association and Association of Theological Schools, the Cooperative Digital Resource Initiative (CDRI) provides access to a large set of high-quality digital resources for the study of religion. This impressive digital image collection features items as diverse as woodcuts, coins, maps, postcards, sermons, and other ephemera. Search for keywords, or browse the collections thematically.
    • Christian Classics Ethereal Library
      Contains online versions of Christian historical texts. Note many of the reference sources in this collection are very old and only of historical interest.
    • ECanon
      Search engine for online versions of the Bible.
  • Statistics and Data
      This site is a collection of over 50,000 statistics for more than 4200 religions, churches, denominations, etc.
    • American Religion Data Archive
      Mostly using public opinion polls, this site provides demographic and attitudinal information about American's religious beliefs.
  • Buddhism
  • Christianity
    • Christian Classics Ethereal Library
      Contains online versions of Christian historical texts. Note many of the reference sources in this collection are very old and only of historical interest.
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Jainism
  • Judaism
    • Judaism 101
      This site is meant to answer questions on "Jewish beliefs, people, places, things, language, scripture, holidays, practices and customs."
    • Jewish Law
      Organized by subject (but also searchable), this site provides information on cases, statutes, commentary, press releases, and more.
  • Sikhism
  • Taoism/Daoism
  • Zoroastrianism
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