TPHL 584 Research Skills for MDiv Students

Session 1: Introduction to Research: Bibliogr

Theological Research

Bringing secular methodologies to bear on sacred topics: the Rose Window
Who/What are librarians? and another take on them: "Libraries, Librarians, and Research"
Libraries and religion: a former library that looks like a church

Drew Library's Home Page: a brief introduction

Research as Rite

  • The research topic
  • The research question(s)
  • The answer to the question(s): the all-important thesis
  • Resources for moving from topic to thesis
    • Subject encyclopedias - for overviews of topics and bibliography
    • Library catalogs - for books and bibliography
    • Periodical databases - for scholarly articles and bibliography
    • Web pages - for much that must be carefully sifted

Bibliographies as ...

Subject encyclopedias as ...

  • Encirclements of topics
  • Humbly informative in supplying
    • Names of key writers on a topic
    • Open questions within a topic
    • Bibliography
  • Wanting your evaluation of them by
    • Analyzing their structure (alphabetical or topical?)
    • Reading their Preface or Introduction (an example: Encyclopedia of the Reformation)
    • Identifying (all or some of these):
      • The academic credentials of their editors and authors
      • Their presumed audience
      • Their currency
      • Their purpose
      • Their perspective
      • Their scope
  • Very often electronic these days (see OxfordGaleCredo--for Gale see under G for Gale Virtual Reference Library)
  • Somewhat challenging to find on topic, but discoverable 
Session 2: Searching Library Catalogs and Eva

Electronic Books

Book Classification Systems for Print Books

Searching Drew's Library Catalog

  • Simple Search (Humility)
  • Exact Search (Hope): browsing vs keyword searching
  • Advanced Search (Theology)
    • For reference books
    • For electronic books
    • For books in specific language
  • Call-number search (Philosophy): allows you to browse the shelves
  • Special Collections
  • A subject-search strategy
    • Enter a key word
    • Find the official subject term (LCSH) for your topic
    • Click on the official subject term
  • Phrase searching: connect words with dashes, e.g. day-of-the-lord 

Worldcat (see under W)

  • Searches our holdings more deeply (Limit search to Drew alone)
  • Searches holdings of other libraries
  • Helpful features

Evaluating Books


The Art of Annotation

  • A typical annotation will
    • be under 250 words
    • identify the thesis of the item (if it has one)
    • Apply one or more of these simple evaluative measures
      • Authority (where does the author teach?)
      • Audience (who is the item written for?)
      • Credibility (why accept what the author writes?)
      • Currency (how recent is the item?)
      • Perspective (what methodologies, theories, or possibly unstated assumptions are in play?)
      • Purpose (what gap does the item fill in the scholarship?)
      • Scope (what date, geographic, or topical range does the item cover?)
  • Some guidance from other universities

University of Chicago Style

Plagiarism is ...

Session 3: Periodical Databases

The world of journals

The world of databases of journals

ATLA Religion Database (see under A)

  • Contains citations to: articles, essays, books, book reviews
  • Offers fulltext for many articles, or a way to it via the "Search for Article" link
  • Formats citations according to Chicago style (but needs checking)
  • Allows for saving citations and/or transferring them to Endnote
  • Connects to interlibrary loan for articles not available through Drew
  • Offers focused scripture searching (Select Indexes, then Scripture Citation index)
  • Helpful tutorials
  • A brief tipsheet

Other useful religion databases

And some interdisciplinary databases 

Using Summon to find articles 

Organizing citations with Endnote

Session 4: Websites

Free vs. Proprietary websites


Evaluating websites (and a chart)

Kinds of online sources

Searching the Web

Citing Websites

Session 5: Humanities Resources for Theo Stud

Theological studies are interdisciplinary
"For God's sake, why bring God into everything?" --Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

"See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit" (Colossians 2:8)
Why Philosophy?: TPHL500

A key distinction:

  • Primary source: "A document, datum, or artifact that belongs to the era under examination and that offers the most direct access
    to the person or issues being studied."
    --James Bradley and Richard Muller, Church History: An Introduction to Research, Reference Works, and Methods (Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans, 1995), 39
  • Secondary sources: "Offer information about an event but stand removed from it either in time or by a process of transmission of information." Ibid., 41.

Key reference sources

  •  Online 
  • Print 
    • New Westminster Dictionary of Church History (Westminster, 2008) [Ref. BR95 .W496]
    • Encyclopedia of Early Christianity (Garland, 1997) [Ref. BR162.2 .E5]
    • Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 1982-1989 [Ref. D114 .O94 ]
    • Encyclopedia of Protestantism, 2004 [Ref BX4811.3 .E53 ]

Bibliography: History Compass

Key periodical databases

Newspaper databases (fulltext)

Helpful websites


Literature in the curriculum: Novel Theologies (TPHL310)

Key reference sources

Key database: MLA Bibliography  (see under M)

Helpful websites

Interdisciplinary databases

Session 6: Social Science Resources for Theo


Key reference sources

  • Encyclopedia of Psychology, 2000 [Ref. BF31 .E52]
  • Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion, 2010 (BL53 .E43)
  • Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Health, 2008 [Ref. RC437 G36]
  • Mental Measurements Yearbooks [Ref. BF431 .M46] 
  • Elsevier's Dictionary of Psychological Theories, 2006.

Key database: PsycInfo (search under "P")

  • Note options to limit by Age Groups, Document Type, Methodology, etc.
  • Note that many of the articles accessed list all the additional articles they reference (e.g. "Engaging in Grief Ministry..."–see Cited References)
  • Note Thesaurus
  • Note that dissertations are included (find the full text of them here)

Helpful websites


Key reference sources 

  • New Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Religion, 2010 [Ref. BL60 .B53]
  • Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, 2007 [Ref. HM425 .B53]
  • Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, 1998 [Ref.BL60 .E53; and online]
  • Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, 2005 [Ref BL31 .E465; also online]
  • Class in America, 2007 [Ref. HN90 .S6 C564]
  • Encyclopedia of Social Work, 2008 [online]

Key database: SocIndex (Search under "S") 

Helpful government websites

Other websites in sociology

Anthropology and Ethnic Studies 

Key reference sources

Useful cross references in the Catalog: See Under

  • Ethnology
  • Ethnology United States (and other countries, e.g. Cameroon, Congo, etc)
  • Indians of North America 

Key databases

Helpful government websites 

Other websites in Anthropology and Ethnic Studies

Session 7: Bible, Church History, and Theolog


Versions, Translations

  • Choosing a Bible: A Guide to Modern English Translations and Editions, 1999 [220.52 S541c]
  • Choosing a Bible for Worship, Preaching, Study, Teaching and Prayer, 2006 [220.5 K91c]
  • Unbound Bible
  • Summary
  • Translation differences within English, e.g. Genesis 24:63
    • Gen 24:63: "Isaac went out to meditate" (RSV)    
    • Gen 24:63:  "Isaac went out in the field to walk" (NRSV)               
    • Gen 24:63:  "He went wandering out into the fields (Basic English Bible)
  • Translation differences across different modern languages, e.g. The Lord's Prayer

Reference Sources

  • Dictionaries/Encyclopedias 
    • Anchor Bible Dictionary, 1992 [Ref.BS440 .A54]
    • New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, 2006-2009 [Ref. BS440 .N445; online through Ministry Matters]
    • Intervarsity Press dictionaries
      • Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, 1992 [Ref. BS2555.2 .D53]
      • Dictionary of Paul and his Letters, 1993 [Ref. BS2560.2 .D53]
      • Dictionary of the Later New Testament and its Developments, 1997 [Ref. BS2625.5 .D53]
      • The IVP Dictionary of the New Testament, 2004 [Ref. BS2312 .I89]
    • Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception [Ref. BS440 .E539]
    • Online encyclopedias: Macmillan and Oxford   
  • Concordances, e.g. Strong's
  • Interlinear Bibles
    • NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament [Ref. BS715]
    • New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament [BS1965.5]
    • Online interlinear Bible
  • Lexicons and word studies
    • Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament (BDAG) (Ref. PA881 .B38)
    • Brown Driver Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon (BDB) (Ref. PJ4833 .B67)
    • Theological Dictionary of the New Testament [Kittel] [Ref BS2312 .K5813]
    • Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament [Ref. BS440 .B5713]
  • Commentaries
  • Interpretive methods
    • Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation,1999 [Ref. BS500 .D5]
    • Handbook of Postmodern Biblical Interpretation, 2000 [Ref. BS476 .H36]
    • Oxford Encyclopedia of Biblical Interpretation, 2013 (Ref. BS511.3 .O88)
    • And see chapters on methods in The Blackwell Companion to the New Testament [BS2330.3 B63]
  • Bibliography

Using the Catalog to find commentaries and interpretation 

Using ATLA to find interpretation (and OT Abstracts and NT Abstracts)

  • Click on Indexes along top of screen
  • Choose from the "Browse an Index" drop-down menu: Scripture Citation
  • Enter chapter/verses, e.g, Genesis 16
  • Select relevant groupings and click Search
  • A tutorial

Electronic Bibles


Church History see

Theology and Philosophy

  • Key reference sources for Theology
    • Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology
    • Blackwell Companion to the Theologians, 2009 [Ref. BR118. B48]
    • New and Enlarged Handbook of Christian Theology, 2003 [Ref. BR95 .N393]
    • Modern Theologians, 3rd ed., 2005 [Ref. BT28 .M59]
    • New Handbook of Christian Theologians, 1996 [Ref. BT28 .N48]
    • Global Dictionary of Theology, 2008 [Ref. BR95 G56]
  • Guides to challenging theologians (in publisher series)
    • Outstanding Christian Thinkers (Continuum Press): Augustine, Barth, Kierkegaard etc
    • Guides for the Perplexed (Bloomsbury): Paul, Wesley, Bonhoeffer, etc.
    • Philosophy and Theology (Bloomsbury): Habermas, Levinas, Weil
  • A helpful history: The Making of American Liberal Theology, by Gary Dorrien (230.046 D716m, in 3 vols.)
  • Key topics


Church & Society; Christian practices

Church and Society

Reference sources

  • Dictionary of Ethics, Theology and Society, 1996 [Ref. BJ63 .D45]
  • Mainline Christians and U.S. Public Policy, 2007 [Ref. BR515 .U88]
  • Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, 1998 [Ref.BL60 .E53; and online]
  • Encyclopedia of Religion, Communication and Media, 2006 (Ref. P94 .E48)
  • New Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Religion, 2010 (Ref. BL60 .B53)

Statistical sources

Helpful websites

A helpful publisher: Alban Books

Christian Practices


  • Reference source: New Interpreter's Handbook of Preaching, 2008 (Ref. BV4211.3 .N49)
  • Bible commentary series helpful in preaching
    • Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Westminster Press)
    • Storyteller's Companion to the Bible (Abingdon Press)
    • Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Intervarsity Press) (for patristic insights)
    • Anchor Bible Commentary (Yale University Press) (for help with Hebrew and Greek)
  • Commentaries for lectionary preaching
    • Feasting on the Word (Westminster) (BV4235 .L43 F43 2008)
    • Imaging the Word: An Arts and Lectionary Resource (United Church Press) (263.9 I31i)
    • Hunger for the Word: Lectionary Reflections on Food and Justice (Liturgical Press) (261.8326 H936h)
    • Search the catalog with the heading: Lectionary Preaching
  • Helpful journals
  • Websites


  • General Reference sources
  • Reference sources in music

  • Reference sources in art

    • Grove Art Online
    • Oxford Companion to Christian Art and Architecture [Ref. N7830 .M87]
    • Dictionary of Christian Art [Ref. BV150 .A66]
    • Iconography of Christian Art [Ref. N7830 .S3513]
    • Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (Ref. BS440 .E539 2009) (for the Bible in art)
    • International Bibliography of Art (premier index)
    • Artstor (for images that allow close-ups without loss of resolution)
    • Reference sources in theater
  • Reference sources in dance
    • Oxford Dictionary of Dance (Ref.  GV1585 .C73 2000)
    • International Encyclopedia of Dance (Ref. GV1585 .I586 1998)
    • Sacred Dance Guild


  • New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality [Ref BV4488 .N49]
  • Christian Spirituality: Essential Guide to the Most Influential Spiritual Writings... [Ref. BR117 .C48]
  • Excellent series of primary sources: Classics of Western Spirituality (Paulist Press)
Subject Specialist
Picture: Jesse Mann

Jesse Mann
Theological Librarian
Tel: 973-408- 3472