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Theology and Religious Studies: Reference Sources: Where to Begin

Reference sources are a great place to start

The following are good places to begin your research in theology and religious studies.  There are examples of each type of resource given, but try doing some searching on your own - you'll be surprised how much you can find!


Atlases are collections of maps, usually themed, like an atlas of the biblical world.  You can find one by searching the catalog using the search terms ATLAS and terms like BIBLE, RELIGION, CATHOLIC, etc.

Atlas of the World's Religions CL Reference BL80.2 .A84 1999

Oxford Bible Atlas CL Reference BS630 .O96 2007


Almanacs are collections of important dates, facts, and statistics.  They can be general, or specific to a topic.  You can find one by searching the catalog using the search terms ALMANAC and terms like BIBLE, RELIGION, CATHOLIC, etc.

Almanac of the Bible CL Oversize Books BS417 .W48 1991


A concordance is an index of words or phrases from a text or set of texts, which indicates each occurrence of those words or phrases in the text.  They are particularly useful in biblical research, where phrases are re-used over time or are borrowed from current language for thematic emphasis.  You can find a concordance by searching the catalog using the search terms CONCORDANCE and either the term BIBLE, or try using the specific version of the bible that you are reading, and put it in quotes: "New Revised Standard Version"

Eerdmans Analytical Concordance to the Revised Standard Version of the Bible CL Reference BS425 .W48 1988


A lexicon is what you might think of when you think of a dictionary.  They usually refer to a specialized dictionary or glossary used in a specific subject or field, and often in a language other than English.  You can find a lexicon by searching the catalog with the search terms LEXICON and BIBLE.

A new reader's lexicon of the Greek New Testament  CL Camino Lower Level PA881 .B87 2008


A dictionary is what you might think of when you think of an encyclopedia.  Dictionaries are single or multiple volume works that contain brief explanatory entries on terms and concepts, usually within a specific subject or field of study.  You can find a dictionary by searching the catalog with the search terms DICTIONARY and more specific terms like BIBLE, WOMEN, JESUS, CATHOLIC, etc.

The New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible CL Reference BS440 .N443 2006

Women in Scripture: a dictionary of named and unnamed women in the Hebrew Bible, the Apocryphal/Deuterocanoncial books, and the New Testament CL Reference BS575 .W593 2000 


Encyclopedias are similar to dictionaries, but contain longer entries about specific topics, often written by authorities in the field.  Encyclopedias can be general or can cover more specific topics.  You can find an encyclopedia by searching the catalog with the search terms ENCYCLOPEDIA adn more speicific terms like BIBLE, JUDAISM, CATHOLIC, etc.

The Lion Encyclopedia of the Bible CL Camino Lower Level BS510.2 .L56 1986

Companion Encyclopedia of Theology CL Camino Lower Level BR118 .C66 1995


Reference in Print and Online

Reference sources for the study of religion and theology and related disciplines are available in print and electronically through Copley Library. 

If you want to view only electronically available reference sources, after you retrieve your search results using the tips at the left, use the limiting facets on the left side of the results screen to narrow your results to ebooks. The same process goes for print books.


Credo Reference

Credo Reference is a database of reference sources.

It contains the full text of hundreds of reference works, in a wide range of disciplines.

Use Credo to find

  • information from encyclopedias and dictionaries
  • topic maps to help you see relationships between topics
  • alternative terms to use in your search for information in other databases

Credo presents full citations in multiple formats for every article. Look toward the bottom of the screen to find the full citation.