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Religion & Philosophy Research Guide: Databases

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

Featured Resources - Start Here

These databases are the Featured Resources for general research in Religion, Biblical Studies, or Theology. Try searching for the same topic on at least two of these popular databases at the start of a research project. 

Note the different types of resources found on the databases: journal articles, periodicals, essays (chapter within a book), books, and book reviews. 

Theses and Dissertations

Databases that Support Scripture Passage Searching

Several of our religion databases allow you to search for articles on a specific Bible verse or passage.  EBSCO databases that will enable Scripture searching are Atla, Christian Periodical Index, Old Testament Abstracts, and New Testament Abstracts.  But each database searches Scripture passages slightly differently.  Atla uses an "SR" prefix, while OT and NT Abstracts use a "ZP" prefix.  The Christian Periodical Index has Scriptures passages as subject headings but doesn't have a Scripture search feature within the database.  We have created a Religion and Philosophy Multidisciplinary Databases Search that searches all of these databases (and some others with religious content) simultaneously. 

Always spell out the full name of the biblical book, rather than using an abbreviation. When searching for books beginning with ordinal numbers such as first and second, etc., use the book's name followed by the ordinal number, e.g., "Corinthians, 1st" or "Corinthians, 2nd." Also note that the database does not always recognize abbreviations of the biblical books.

Different Tactics to Search Scripture on the EBSCO platform:

Option #1: Use the book name and chapter for a specific Scripture passage you wish to search. Change the field box to SC Scripture Citation. This search tactic will typically yield results for several chapters in a book. For example, searching for Genesis 1:3 will give articles that address the whole textual unit of Genesis chapters 1-11. Note - using quote marks will not always help to reduce the results with this search option. You often get more results by looking for an entire chapter rather than specific verses. Sometimes articles will be about only a few of the verses within a larger passage. You generally will have to skim the results because there may be some irrelevant titles.

Option #2: Use the Scriptures button at the very top. Refine the search using the expanders on the left. You only need to select the beginning verse of a textual unit. Note that the results page will then have <SR "passage"> in the search field, signifying the Scripture range. This tactic also yields results that are more inclusive and may address larger textual units or additional chapters. Option #2 does help when searching in biblical books with multiple volumes (e.g., Kings, Chronicles, Epistles of John).

Option #3: Use the More button, also at the very top. Now, select Indexes. And then use the dropdown menu for Browse and Index and select Bible Citation. Enter the passage in the Browse By field. Spell out the entire book name; however, no quotes are needed. Click the boxes on the left for all passage that apply. And now click the Search button back up top. Notice the results page has a <ZP "passage"> in the search field, signifying an Exact Passage search. This search option also uses the above model for ordinal names: e.g., <Kings, 1st 3:16>.

If there are still too many results, add a specific phrase or concept connected with the passage, such as "woman caught in adultery," or "Goliath," or "prodigal son." Add topics to a field box and change the limiter in front of the second box from the default "AND" to "OR" and include that descriptive phrase to expand your search while still including the passage of interest.

Click here to search the combined Religion and Philosophy databases all at once: Ebscohost Religion, Philosophy, and Multidisciplinary Journal Search

These databases support Scripture passage searches:

Additional Religion Resources

This list offers additional resources beyond the Featured databases above. The databases in this group have a narrower focus or a specific target area of study such. Some of these databases include e-books, which can still be found on the main library book catalog search.  

Open Access - Religion and Bible Study

The following websites offer helpful Bible study tools for personal and devotion use, and even some helps with the original languages. 

However, when writing papers for LU research projects, it is best use make full use of the many exegetical and academic commentaries that are available through the JFL online catalog. Not every resource on these Open Access pages will fulfill the scholarly requirements for course assignments, even if they are beneficial for individual growth and other ministries. 

See the Historical Backgrounds page for a list of websites that offer translations of non-canonical writings (2TJ) and Rabbinic materials.

Moving Beyond the Databases

Interlibrary Loans

Most journal articles and single chapters from print books (essays) can be scanned and emailed to students, both residential and online.

Print books that are already in the JFL collection can be requested by online students and mailed to them. Requests for ILL print books that are not already in the JFL collection must be picked up at the library; these are not mailed out.


Tips for ATLA (EBSCO) Searches

Focus your Search on EBSCO:
(Adapted from EBSCO Help)

Expand the search by:

  1. Using OR with multiple search terms.
  2. Try Nesting with parentheses. E.g., (cat OR dog) AND pet
  3. Click the Search within Full Text option.
  4. Click the Apply Related Words option.
  5. Use the Equivalent Subjects suggestions when provided in the field boxes.
  6. The system defaults to finding terms within 5 other words of each other. Add N# or W# between two field terms. For example, using N7 searches any order, within 7 other words. Using W8 searches that particular order, within 8 other words of each other. Nesting applies here too.
  7. Follow the Subjects links within the article. Likewise, try the Thesaurus button at the top for alternative search terms.
  8. Use a Wildcard. The * adds any number of letters inside or at the end of a word. It can also search for whole words inside a phrase. The # can be inserted where an alternative spelling might happen. And the ? can be used for a single letter wildcard (but not at the end).    
  9. Switch to the Religion, Philosophy, Multidisciplinary search, which includes ATLA plus several other R&P databases.
  10. Make sure the Peer Reviewed button is turned off, and search for Publication Type: Essay. Track down the originating book and examine the other chapters included. 

Narrow down the search by:

  1. Use just one database; turn off equivalent subjects.
  2. Use AND with several search terms. Add a new search term/row.
  3. Limit the search Field to just title or subject.
  4. Use NOT to exclude terms.
  5. Use Quote Marks for phrases & word order. (note: the system will ignore some articles and prepositions)
  6. Click the Peer Reviewed limiter.
  7. Narrow the Date of publication.
  8. Limit the Publication Type (article, essay, review).
  9. Limit the Language
  10. Limit by Subject (and the show more feature).


Databases & Reference for Philosophy

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