Religious Studies Resources

A Guide to E-Reference Sources, Journal Databases, and other Resources in Religion.

Developing a Research Plan

One of the biggest problems students face is establishing a goal or purpose for a research paper. Research papers are not summaries of what you have read (which is easy) but are problem-based (which is hard).

Developing a research plan involves identifying a problem to solve and then expressing that problem in the form of a one-sentence research question (or a thesis, which is a tentative answer to a question). Doing this in one sentence is key - you want your goal to be so clear that you can picture it in your head. Here are some ideas:

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How to Read an Academic Paper

Three minute guide from UBC:

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Guides to Doing Biblical Exegesis

Your professor may have his/her own guide, which should take precedence, but the following should be helpful:


How Can I Do Exegesis on a Bible Passage? (Tyndale Seminary)

Writing Exegetical Papers (Matthew Patton - Westminster Theological Seminary)

Research Tools in Biblical Studies



Section by section (or even verse by verse) information on a biblical book, usually intended to draw out the biblical writer's intention or theme.  Can use biblical languages, theological analysis and information about cultural background.  Some commentaries focus more on the meaning in the text and others focus more on theological or practical application. 

For example: Newsom, Daniel: A Commentary


Book by Book analysis of the Old Testament, New Testament, or both.  Emphases include date, authorship, primary themes, controversial issues, and so on.

For example: IVP Introduction to the Bible


Similar to introductions but concerned less with issues discussed by scholars and more with the overall message of each book.

For example: Elmer L. Towns, and Ben Gutierrez. The Essence of the New Testament : A Survey. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2016.


Tools to look up biblical words (either in original languages or English translations) in order to determine how these words were used in various biblical passages.

The library has many print concordances, but try this online version:


Akin to dictionaries but emphasizing meaning derived from usage in various biblical and extra-biblical writings.

For example: Abbott, Manual Greek Lexicon

Theological Word Dictionaries

Extended discussions of significant words from the Bible, generally tracing usage and meaning historically.

For example: VanGemeren, New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis. Print. BS1185 .N495 1997

Using Theological Research Databases

While it is possible to use Library OneSearch exclusively, specialized databases can be very helpful to create well-focused sets of results. Here are some short tutorials:

1. Atla Religion Database (4:56) 

2. Atla Scripture Search (4:11 ) 

Also available in Korean

3. JSTOR ( 4:04)