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Theological Research and Writing: Bibliography

A Guide to Cutting Edge Critical Thinking; Cutting Edge Research and Writing at BMATS

Starting With Tertiary Sources

Tertiary sources are used to find secondary sources  which comment upon and present conclusions about primary sources.




Commentary and Reference Survey

Primary Sources on the Web

These sites are great for locating primary source documents for the study of the NT.

Bibliography: Traveling in "Right paths."

   You can depend upon experienced scholars to lead you along right paths in finding relevant information on a topic.  You will find these right paths through bibliographic references, either in a bibliography, or scattered throughout a source, which contain all the information you need in order to locate the source of an idea.


Bibliographic Reference: Here is a bibliographic reference in Turabian format.

Author(s). Title. City, State of publication: Publisher, publication date. 

Beeke, Joel R., and Mark Jones. A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life. Grand Rapids, Mich: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012.

   It will look a little bit different if you see it in a footnote and it will contain page numbers.  You can learn more about Turabian style by checking the “writing and citing” page.

A place to start.

A bibliography on your topic is an appropriate place to start finding information.  You learned about this when you learned the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary information sources.

We recommend John Glynn’s Commentary and Reference Survey.  It holds bibliographic information for hundreds of commentaries, reference works, and theological books on special topics.  Your most rewarding papers in seminary will likely be on a book of the Bible, or a theological topic.  This resource will help you select the best book from several different points of view.  

Following the conversation

Theological scholarship is an ongoing conversation.  A scholar, relying upon the theologians who went before, evaluates the findings of other scholars and either affirms them, or refutes them with his or her own evidence.  You can follow a citation to see an idea in its original context, and you can see the evidence that the author uses to prove his or her conclusions.  Most importantly, you can find where an idea starts, and what others have said about it, and you can follow the scholarship on your topic, ensuring that you have the best sources for studying your topic.  The following tips will help you with this process.

1.      Look for scholar names within the text of a book.  For example, “Luther writes…” or “According to Bultmann…”  Acquire these sources and read them for yourself.

2.      Start with newer books and work your way back through the history of an idea.

3.      Trace an original idea back as far as you can.

4.      Try to look at various points of view.

5.      Find the best scholarly thread for each idea.  Just because most scholars agree with John Calvin on idea A, does not mean that John Calvin is the authority on idea B. 

6.      Look for misrepresentation of an author.  You may need to reject a scholar’s rebuttal of another if it seems that one author did not handle the other’s ideas well.

7.  If a newer source summarizes an idea in such a way that it makes it easier for you to use that idea, cite the newer source regarding the older.

Using the Bibliographic approach to study primary sources.

   The bibliographic method of finding resources is a great way to find primary resources for a particular research topic.  Consider the following tips when studying primary sources directly.

  1. Scholars will point to primary source documents to prove a point.  Don't let them persuade you without looking at the document yourself.
  2. Look for editions of primary texts which seem to be respected by scholars.
  3.  Look for editions of primary texts which are introduced or organized by scholars.
  4.  Look for "readers" in your topic area.  For instance, the following book is an early church reader and contains some of the most important primary texts on the early church.

Other Bibliographies