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RELG207: Jewish & Christian Scriptures (Prof. Chris Jones)

The assignment: Conduct research to inform the answers you write for your two "Posing and Answering Questions" assignments.

Evaluating sources: Evaluate your sources closely to ensure you know how each is or is not appropriate to use for the assignment. Remember this important distinction: you are likely to find a lot of sources, both on the Web and in the library, that are written from a faith-based perspective, i.e. helping contemporary believers think about the relevance of Biblical texts to their own faith. For this particular class, though, you are studying these ancient texts in their original historical and social contexts. Which sources can best promote that kind of research?

Bible Commentary - Bible DictionariesScholarly Articles - Web SourcesOther Suggestions - Citing Sources - Questions?

Bible Commentary

Bible commentary is scholarship that interprets or analyzes passages from the Bible. For your research in this class, focus on the following commentary series: 

  • Anchor Bible - Reference collection, 2nd floor - BS192.2 .A1 1964 G3
  • Interpretation - Reference collection, 2nd floor - BS491.2 .I68
  • Hermeneia - Reference collection, 2nd floor - BS491.2 .H46

As you locate commentary in the reference collection, read the call numbers carefully to ensure you identify the correct series of books. Once you find the series, you will see that all of the volumes are shelved together, and they are shelved in the same order as the books of the Bible (i.e., Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, etc.). If you have any doubts about whether you've found the right book, ask the librarian at the research desk for help.

Bible Dictionaries

Bible dictionaries are specifically for terms related to the Bible; they also tend to offer more detailed, in-depth definitions than an average dictionary. As you work on the "Posing and Answering Questions" assignments, a Bible dictionary can be especially useful for comprehension-level questions. A couple of the library's best Bible dictionaries for this class are:

  • Anchor Bible Dictionary - Reference collection, 2nd floor - BS440 .A54 1992
  • Eerdman's Dictionary of the Bible - Reference collection, 2nd floor - BS440 .E44 2000

Important note: Anchor Bible Dictionary and Anchor Bible Commentary are two different things. Don't get them mixed up!

Scholarly Articles

Use the library's religion databases to search for articles for this project. The following two databases can both be accessed via this path:

  • Library webpage --> Databases --> Databases A-Z.

Old Testament Abstracts
This database covers topics related to the Hebrew Bible and will be an excellent source of articles for your paper.

ATLA Religion Index
ATLA is the library's most important religion database and will be another good resource for your assignment. In ATLA, click "Scriptures" in the blue bar on top of the search screen to conduct an efficient search for articles on your passage.

***HELP!! There's no full-text!***

  1. If you don't see a full-text link, go to the library homepage and select "Journals & Magazines." Search the title of the journal in which the article was published (not the title of the article itself!) to see whether the full text is available somewhere else in the library's collection.
  2. If Augustana doesn't have the article you're looking for, click on "Interlibrary Loan" in the left column on the library homepage to order it from another library. Interlibrary loan is free, and you'll usually get the article within a couple of days.

Web Sources

In class on September 8, we discussed a variety of ways to assess sources you find on the Web. (Actually, most of these criteria are relevant to sources you find using the library, too.) As a reminder, here are many of the ones we identified and talked about as a class:

  • Purpose
    • Remember your goal of doing research that helps you analyze ancient texts in their historical and social contexts. Is that how the source you've found looks at the Bible? If not, how can you use that source effectively? Or should you discard it and find another?
  • Author
    • Who wrote the source, and does this person have the necessary credentials or expertise?
  • Publisher/Sponsor
    • Who produced the website, and what do they say about their intentions? Look for an "About Us" link somewhere on the site (often, it's at the very bottom of the page) to learn more.
  • Bias
    • As we said in class, every source has some kind of bias (even if it claims not to). Identify your source's bias and ask yourself: given that bias, what is the best way to use this source for my research?
  • Domain (.com, .org, .edu, etc.)
    • Knowing the domain your source comes from, and what that can tell you about the source, is important. It's not the whole picture, though. A .com source may be high-quality, for example, and many .orgs are not. Etc. What it comes down to: use the domain as a clue to the source's quality, but consider the above criteria as well.

Other Suggestions

- There are books on reserve for your class at the library's 2nd-floor circulation desk. To use one, go to the circulation desk and give them the title of the book and your professor's name.

- If you want general historical context for your passage, search ALiCat to find a book on the history of ancient Israel.

- You may encounter unfamiliar terms (people, places, concepts, and other vocabulary) in the course of your research. Use a Bible dictionary (see above) to look them up.

Citing Sources

Cite your sources according to a standard citation style, such as MLA, APA, Chicago, etc. You can find information on these styles and many more at the library's website:

  • Library webpage --> Citing Sources


You are welcome to contact me at with questions about your research for Jewish & Christian Scriptures.

Or, talk to the librarian on duty at the research help desk: in-person, or via phone (309-794-7206), email (, or the "Ask an Augustana Librarian" chat box on the library's home page.

Page created by Stefanie Bluemle, librarian for history, religion, and philosophy. Updated September 2016.