Tools for Locating Secondary Sources on the Gospels

Indices and Print Bibliographies:

The best resource for locating scholarly theological journal articles and essays is the ATLA Religion Database accessible on CD-ROM (3rd floor of library) and via the Internet through the ATLAS database (see links under "Full-Text Resources" on ACU Brown Library's homepage or "Resources by Department"). This database includes both Religion Index One: Periodicals (RIO; 1949- ) and Religion Index Two: Multi-Author Works (RIT; 1960- ; see Bruce M. Metzger, Index of Articles on the New Testament and the Early Church Published in Festschriften [Philadelphia: Society of Biblical Literature, 1951; located at REL REF 225.016 M596i; cf. also the supp. published in 1955] for earlier essays in festschriften). Students should also search the latest print volumes of RIO and RIT which may include references not yet available in electronic formats.

Also valuable are the indices located at the end of each bound volume of New Testament Abstracts, 1956- (REL INDX 225.05 N532). Both scholarly monographs and journal articles are abstracted, and students will sometimes find works not in RIO. Students should also consult the cumulative indices for select scholarly journals. See for example, Ralph Marcus' Journal of Biblical Literature, an index of volumes XLI-LX: 1922-1941 (205.016 M322j), which includes indexing for articles that precede RIO, and the cumulative indices for Restoration Quarterly (see 205 RESTORATION, v. 11/1968, v. 20/1977, and v. 30/1998).

Among the more helpful print bibliographies and indices related to studies in the gospels are David Aune, Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels: A Bibliographical Study Guide (Madison, WI: IVP, 1980; 232.908 AUNE); Dikran Hadidian, A Periodical and Monographic Index to the Literature on the Gospels and Acts (Pittsburgh, PA: Clifford E. Barbour Library, 1971; 225.016 CLIFFORD); Hugh Humphrey, A Bibliography for the Gospel of Mark, 1954-1980 (NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1981; REL REF 226.3016 H926b); Edward Malatesta, St. John's Gospel, 1920-1965 (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1967; REL REF 226.5016 M239); Bruce M. Metzger, comp., Index to Periodical Literature on Christ and the Gospels, (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1966; REL REF 225.016 N532); and Gunter Wagner, An Exegetical Bibliography of the NT, vols. 1-3 (Macon, GA: Mercer, 1983-1987; REL REF 225.016 W133).

Finally, students may consult the exhaustive bibliographies found in Elenchus Bibliographicus Biblicus (220.05 Biblica and 220.05 E391). Early bibliographies (1920-1968) are found within the larger volumes of Biblica (at the end of each issue); after 1968 the Elenchus bibliography was published separately from the journal. All materials formats are indexed including scholarly monographs, dissertations, journal articles, and essays in festschriften.

Bible Dictionaries and Encyclopedias:

Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias are valuable not only for the introductory articles on a variety of biblical books, figures, and themes, but for the bibliographies at the end of each article. The three primary dictionaries/encyclopedias for biblical studies are David N. Freedman, ed., The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 6 vols. (NY: Doubleday, 1992; at REL REF 220.3 A539 and on Reserve); Geoffrey Bromiley, ed., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, rev., 4 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979-1988; at REL REF 220.3 I609 1979 and in Main); and George A. Buttrick, ed., The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, 4 vols. (NY: Abingdon, 1962; supp. 1976; REL REF 220.3 I61 and in Main). Also helpful are the more narrowly focused Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Joel B. Green, and Scot McKnight, eds. (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1992; located at REL REF 226.03 D554j), and Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter, Dictionary of New Testament Background (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2001; located REL REF 225.9503 D554) which include scripture indices.

Commentaries and Critical Introductions to the NT:

Commentaries can be rich sources for identifying significant titles in the secondary literature. For example, students should get in the habit of checking the Word Biblical Commentary series for the bibliography on a given passage (some volumes in this series are yet to be published, however). Other commentary series notable for their bibliographies are Hermeneia and Sacra Pagina. In the same way, students can find bibliographic trails in standard critical introductions to the NT such as Donald Guthrie's, New Testament Introduction, 4th rev. ed. (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1990; located at 225.61 G984n in Main and on Reserve), W. G. Kummel's, Introduction to the New Testament, rev. and enl. Eng. ed., tran. by H. C. Kee (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1975; located at 225.6 K45e 1975), and, most recently, Luke T. Johnson's, The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation, 2nd rev. and enl. ed. (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1999; located at 225.61 J67w 1999).

Browsing Recent Journals:

Locating the invaluable articles in very recent journals can be especially difficult, because these items will not yet be included in any of the standard tools mentioned above. Thus, students should browse the tables of contents of recently published journals (these will be unbound issues). The following titles are especially promising for studies related to the gospels: Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Journal of Biblical Literature, New Testament Studies, Novum Testamentum, and Restoration Quarterly.

Following Bibliographic Trails Within Your Sources:

After having gathered bibliographic references from such standard tools as religious indices and bibliographies, Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias, and commentaries, and after having browsed the tables of contents of more recent journals, the student should have in hand a number of works which provide additional bibliographic trails to pursue. Thus, students should, check the footnotes included in any relevant journal articles, essays, or monographs previously surfaced.

Concluding Note:

This outline is, of necessity, selective (for example, I have not mentioned the possibilities afforded through searching the ALCON database or the larger FirstSearch database). Nonetheless, the student who carefully uses or employs the instruments and methods described here should be able to locate most of the critical secondary literature on the gospels. While one will encounter a good bit of overlap in the process, an eclectic approach to information gathering, such as the one outlined here, will insure the best results.


Thanks to a donation from an alumnus, the Special Collections at ACU's Center for Restoration Studies now houses two Ethiopian religious texts dating back to the turn of the 19th century.

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