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Religion & Philosophy Research Guide: Home

This research guide features resources and strategies for finding information and conducting research related to Religion and Philosophy.

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Welcome to Religion and Theology Research

This research guide provides an introduction to religion, theology, and philosophy resources available to researchers at the Jerry Falwell Library. 

Resources are organized under separate tabs according to their format or topic area. 

To locate journal articles specifically, click on the Databases tab.

For additional assistance, please contact the subject librarian you see listed on the various pages of this guide.


A recorded webinar on Finding E-Resources for Theological Research can be viewed here:

A ten-part video series on Jerry Falwell Library Resources for Graduate Divinity Students can be viewed here:

Searching the JFL catalog for Books

The following guidelines are designed to assist with Book Searches on the JFL main page. Several tactics can be reused for database searches. However, see the separate guides on the Database page for vendor-specific searching helps.

1. Use the Book search option instead of the All option on the main page.

2. Use Quote Marks around a complete phrase or expression to search for those exact words, in that particular order. 

  • E.g., "intellectual virtues"

  • E.g., "narrative criticism"

3. Use Boolean operators like AND, OR, NOT. (these should be added in all caps).

  • E.g., Acts AND Shipwreck

  • E.g., Sovereignty OR Determinism

  • E.g., Caterpillar NOT Construction

4. If there are too many results from a search, use the Limiters on the left side of the screen to filter down a search by date, subject, etc.  

5. Use Parentheses to Nest a multilayer search string:

  • E.g., ("chief executive officer" OR CEO) AND (wages OR compensation)

  • E.g., "new testament" AND ("textual criticism" OR manuscripts)

6. To Search by a Field, use the field name, a colon, and then the search term in parentheses. The formula is Field:(object).

  • It is recommended to use the parenthesis even for single terms searches. If using two or more terms, the search engine will find those terms in any sequence or order within that field. 

    • E.g., SubjectTerms:(apologetics)

    • E.g., Author:(Maxwell, John)     [and note the last name, comma, first name sequence]

    • E.g., Title:(virtue epistemology)

  • Use quote marks for phrases when searching for an exact word sequence or order within a field. 

    • E.g., Author:"Maxwell, John"     [this yields less results than the above parenthesis search

7. Use a Wildcard to expand the search with different word endings or spellings.

  • Use * for multiple letters, especially when placed at the end of a word.

    • E.g., sanct*

    • This will search for several words including: sanctification, sanctify, sanctity, sanctus, etc.

    • This also finds: sanctions, sanctuary, sanctum, and other terms. It may help use a boolean NOT to remove some options.

  • E.g., manage*   

    • This will yield results for manage, manager, management, etc.

  • Sometimes it is better to limit the use of this wildcard feature to a discipline-specific journal database search rather than using it with the total library catalog.

    • E.g., Ch*ter will match Charter, Character, and Chapter.

  • Try ? to search for an alternate spelling of just 1 word.

    • S?epticism would search for both skepticism and scepticism.

    • Organi?ation would search for both organization and organisation.

8. For Proximity searches, use ~ plus a number after a search string to locate 2 or more words within this many words of each other. This is a limiting feature, as the search engine will default to finding terms up to 200 words of each other. 

  • E.g., exhaustive determinism ~10

  • This will find instances of exhaustive and determinism, where the two words are within 10 other words or less of each other.

9. There is no need to limit book searches to Peer Reviewed (but such limits are helpful when looking for journal articles).

10. If searching for a Bible commentary, simply enter Bible Commentary, and the book in question.

  • For digital commentaries only, limit the results to Online Books. 
  • E.g., Bible Commentary Romans