Theological Research and Writing

Drew University Theological School
Madison NJ

Mondays, 4:00-6:30 pm

Professor Liana Piehler (ex8523;; office hours by appointment)
Professor Ernie Rubinstein (ex3472);; office hours by appointment)

Link to:
session 2: Searching Library Catalogs
session 3: Periodical Indexes
session 4: Websites
session 5: Humanities Resources for Theology Students
session 6: Social Sciences Resources for Theology Students
session 7: Resources in Biblical Studies, Church History, Theology & Philosophy
session 8: Resources in Church & Society, Pastoral Theology

Session 1: Introduction to Library-Related Theological Research


I. The enterprise of research

A. Outside of religion

B. For this class

C. In professional life, beyond this class

D. The paradox of theological research: bringing secular methodologies to bear on sacred topics

E. The enterprise of scholarship: where does it begin?


II. Libraries and Librarians

A. In literature: arcane and mysterious?

B. In popular culture

1. In the Media

2. In art: the Librarian

C. In reality


III. Libraries and Religion: some affinities

A. Architecture

B. The Bible


IV. Re-search and Re-ligion: some affinities


V. Drew Library's homepage: a brief orientation

A. Catalog

B. Research Resources


VI. The Rite of Library Research

A. The research question

1. Focuses reading

2. Evokes interpretive effort

3. Provides the thesis for a paper, in the answer to it

4. Comes in different sizes

5. Can fall into our lap, or take time to formulate

B. The research process towards answering research questions

1. Research aids: encyclopedias, catalogs, bibliographies, indexes, the Internet

2. Genres of scholarly writing: encyclopedia articles, books, bibliographies, journal articles, websites

3. Library Catalogs

a. Free for use, and abundant

b. Their “volume and limits”

(1) Provide access to library books and periodicals (and other items)

(2) Do NOT provide access to articles within periodicals

4. Subject Encyclopedias

a. As encirclements of subjects

b. As paradoxes in the field of religion

c. And their cousins: dictionaries, directories, handbooks

d. And what they supply: overviews, names, open questions, bibliographies

e. And how to evaluate them

(1) Read the Preface

(2) Evaluative criteria
[Authority, Audience, Currency, Credibility, Purpose, Perspective, Structure, Scope]

f. How to find them:

(1) Online Collections: Credo, Gale, Oxford, African American Studies Center

(2) Print and online: Reference Universe

5. Bibliographies

a. Are key directional aids

b. Can take annotated form: The Annotated Bibliography

c. Distinguish between books and articles. Which is this:

Barton, Stephen C. “Jesus—Friend of Little Children.” In Contours of Christian Education, edited by J. Astley and D. Day, 30-40. Great Wakering, Essex : McCimmons, 1992.

d. Follow a prescribed form, e.g. "Chicago"

(1) For books

(2) For articles

(3) For websites [check Chicago Manual of Style]

e. Excellent source for bibliographic essays: Religion Compass

6. Periodical Indexes

a. Provide access to articles within periodicals

b. Exist in both print and electronic form

c. Available here

7. The Internet [World Wide Web]

a. Public vs. Proprietary websites

b. Proprietary websites as electronic versions of print items in the research pentalateral [encyclopedias, bibliographies, indexes]

c. Google

d. Summon

C. The Library Research Rite: Linear or Circular?


VII. Review of


VIII. Exercises

1. Does the library have the Oxford English Dictionary online?

2. Are articles in the journal,Theology Today, available online?

3. What online resources does the Library recommend for the study of Philosophy?

4. What is a good database to check for articles on Islam?

5. What is netLibrary?

6. Is there a website that contains the fulltext of Justin Martyr in translation?

7. Where is the University Archive, and what kind of things would I find there?

8. Can I get a New York Times article on Methodist life in Ocean Grove, N.J., from the 1920s?

9. What are the library's new books on preaching?

10. For my research paper on Intelligent Design, I need a library specialist in the sciences. Who in the Drew library should I contact?