Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Religion & Philosophy Research Guide: Books & E-books

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

Ask Us

Profile Photo
Sean McNulty
1971 University Blvd
Lynchburg, VA 24515

More Resources

Library of Congress Subject Headings

The Jerry Falwell Library uses the Library of Congress Classification system to organize the collection and create call numbers. Here is a breakdown of some of the relevant call numbers for philosophy and religion:

B - Philosophy (General)                                       

BP - Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc.

BC - Logic

BQ - Buddhism

BD - Speculative philosophy

BR - Christianity (church history)

BH - Aesthetics

BS - The Bible

BJ - Ethics

BT - Doctrinal Theology (Christology, ecclesiology, soteriology, etc.)

BL - Religions. Mythology. Rationalism

BV - Practical Theology (preaching, missions, evangelism, etc.)

BM - Judaism

BX - Christian Denominations

What makes for a Good Commentary?


When you need a commentary for your research paper it is best to avoid the devotional or expository type of commentary and instead find a good scholarly biblical commentary. So, what makes for a good scholarly commentary. Well for starters it will discuss the historical background behind the biblical book. This includes authorship, recipients or audience, and the date of composition. These are important for understanding the book in its original historical context.

A good scholarly commentary will also seek to understand the human author's intended meaning in its original historical context. These commentaries will try to grasp what the ancient author meant to say in his historical context to the original recipients of the book. So, you should look for commentaries that make reference to the human author’s meaning and how the original recipients would have understood the human author in their historical context.

Thirdly and most important a good scholarly commentary will deal with difficult to interpret problems of a given biblical passage. Scholarly commentaries will discuss many if not all the possible meanings of a difficult text. It will evaluate them and give what the commentator believes is the best interpretation that reflects the human author’s intended meaning.

Commentaries that rely on the original languages of the biblical text is also characteristic of scholarly commentaries. When dealing with the Old Testament this would be Hebrew and for a few texts Aramaic and for the New Testament this would be Greek. In order to understand the human author’s intended meaning the commentator must understand the author’s language since this is the language, he used to write his biblical book.

Lastly, look to see if the commentary cites other bibliographic material such as journal articles and books. These sources tell you that the author of the commentary dealt with interpretive issues and problems brought up by other scholars. The citations will also lead you to additional resources that you may use in writing your research paper.

For additional help on what makes for a good commentary see Fee, Gordon D., and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: Fourth Edition, HarperCollins Christian Publishing, 2014


How to Find Commentaries;  

  • Access the library’s online catalog at for print and electronic books.
  • From the library’s web page under where you find “Find Resources” click on “Books.” 
  • Under the search box you will see a default search for “Print,” "E-book” and "Audiobook." If you live far from campus unclick the box next to "Print."
  • For commentaries on biblical books search “Bible” and the name of the Bible book followed by the word "Commentaries, e.g., “Bible. – Mark -- Commentaries.” For books that a number in front of them such as in I John use, "Bible -- Epistles of John -- Commentaries" or for I Samuel use, "Bible -- Samuel -- Commentaries."

As you look through the results, be on the lookout for noted scholars in the field and reputable academic publishers (B&H Academic, Brazos, Eerdmans, Baker, IVP, Zondervan, etc.).

For additional help in how to find commentaries watch the tutorial; Finding Bible Commentaries.

Suggested E-books