Gustavus Adolphus College Library Library News
Getting Started Library Tutorial Research Guides Ask Us Library Home


This guide is NO LONGER UPDATED as of Fall 2012

Visit our new Research Guides Page at

Back to CourseLib home page
Link to default screen version

Information Resources and Services for:
REL 122: Introduction to Christian Thought

Spring 2012
Finding Denominational Information

The resources listed on this page will help you with both major research tasks you need to complete for class. Use the Reference Books section to locate information about your denomination. Search MnPALS Plus to find books cited in your reference book. This will lead you to excellent, comprehensive additional sources about your denomination. If you have any problems, stop by the Reference Desk or contact Julie at or Jeff at

Working with Biblical Passages

The library also has numerous sources that will help you with your biblical commentary. Use the sources listed in the Researching Biblical Passages section. If you have any problems, stop by the Reference Desk or contact Julie at or Jeff at

Julie Gilbert
Deborah Goodwin
Jeff Jenson

Table of Contents:

Reference Books
These are good places to find overviews and basic facts.
  • Contemporary American Religion
    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
    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
    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 Evangelicalism
    This handy resource provides information on major figures, events, institutions and history of evangelicalism.
    • Location(s): Ref BR 1640 .B35 2004
  • Encyclopedia of Protestantism
    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 Religion in America
    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
    An excellent one-stop reference for overviews of denominations.
    • Location(s): Ref BL 2525 .M425 2005
  • Historical Dictionary of the Seventh-Day Adventists
    This one-volume work highlights major figures and beliefs among Seventh-Day Adventists; it also includes a helpful chronology at the beginning
    • Location(s): Ref BX 6153 .L36 2005
  • Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America
    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
    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
  • New Catholic Encyclopedia
    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
  • Religion and American Cultures
    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
Researching Biblical Passages
  • Bible Commentaries (single-volume)
    These cover the whole Bible in a very condensed way. Most include extensive bibliography for further research.
    • Harper's Bible Commentary
      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
      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
      • Location(s): Ref. BS491.2 .N485 1990
    • Oxford Bible Commentary
      • Location(s): Ref BS491.3 .O94 2001
    • Women's Bible Commentary
      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 (multi-volume and single book)
    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.
    • Anchor Bible Commentary Series
      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
      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
      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
  • Bible Concordances
    Concordances help you to do key word searches of the whole Bible. These are keyed to specific translations. A concordance to the King James Version won't help you find something in the NRSV. In addition to the two works listed below, you can use the NRSV concordance online at
    • Harper's Topical Concordance
      Use this text to locate biblical passages by topic (i.e. Sin, Wealth, Pride).
      • Location(s): Ref BS432 .J63 1962
    • NRSV Concordance
      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
  • Bible Dictionaries
    These contain short articles on many themes, events and people. In the Library’s Reference section, on the main floor, near REF. BS440:
    • Anchor Bible Dictionary
      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)
    • Dictionary of Paul and His Letters
      • Location(s): REF BS2650.2 .D53 1993
    • Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible
      • Location(s): Ref. BS440 .E44 2000
    • The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary
      • Location(s): REF BS440 .H235 1996
    • New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible
      A solid five-volume alphabetical set offering short scholarly articles on topics, people, and parts of the bible.
      • Location(s): Ref BS 440 .N445 2006
    • The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible
      • Location(s): Ref BS440 .G4
    • Women in Scripture : a Dictionary of Named and Unnamed Women in the Hebrew Bible, the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books, and the New Testament
      • Location(s): Ref BS575 .W593 2000
  • Parallel Gospels
    • Gospel Parallels; a Synopsis of the First Three Gospels with Alternative Readings from the Manuscripts and Noncanonical Parallels
      This volume gives side-by-side versions of the three Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
      • Location(s): Ref BS2560 .I5 1967
    • The Five Gospels Parallels

      Intended for use in introductory level courses in Christianity, this website provides a side-by side comparison of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, Paul, and Thomas. This resource is not intended to replace print resources, but to supplement them.
Finding Books
  • MnPALS Plus

    Also available from the library's front page. Be sure to play with your search terms; the ones you use first may not match those used by catalogers. When you find a book that looks interesting, write down the call number. Most of the religion books that you can check out are on the upper level. When you get to the shelves, be sure to browse.

Useful Web Sites
Use the sites below to locate good information on the Web.
  • Hartford Institute for Religious Research

    Contains excellent research on religion in America, focusing especially on research in congregations and denominations, plus sociology of religion.
    • Fast Facts about American Religion

      An excellent place to start - contains many quick facts about churches in general.
  • 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.
  • Making the Most of Google
    Google has an interesting new feature - check it out.

Finding Articles and Essays
  • ATLA Religion Database & ATLA Serials,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=rfh

    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.
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.

Page Coordinator: Barbara Fister
This URL:
RSS feed of this page

800 West College Avenue     -     St. Peter, MN 56082     -     (507) 933-7556