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Religion Courses & Research

RE 102 students & Bible overview sources

Concordances, Bible dictionaries, commentaries, and atlases

These source types are all unique to the study of the Christian Bible and require a little practice to use.

RE 102 students and religion majors will find these overviews useful.


Bible Concordance

What does it provide?

  • A list of EVERY SINGLE TIME a word is used in the Bible

Where to find?   

  • Bible Gateway website (free online) is the easiest to use
  • BibleWorks program on the library's stand-up computers
  • Print concordances in Reference or the 1st floor stacks - look for "exhaustive" not "abridged"

How to use?   

  • Keyword search Bible Gateway; look up alphabetically in print texts

Bible Dictionary

What does it provide?

  • the MEANING behind a word, phrase, or concept
  • the BIOGRAPHIES of people (brief)
  • the HISTORICAL CONTEXT of a passage, perhaps also the themes
  • May be a single sentence or several paragraphs

Where to find?

  • Reference section (at the front of the 1st floor) in the 220.3 section.

How to use?

  • Look up your word, person, concept, etc, ALPHABETICALLY
  • If the word has a more commonly-used related term, you may be directed to find that instead:
    • For the above, you would then look for "Mediterranean Sea" and there would be an entry there that would mention the Great Sea.
    • Example of a dictionary entry referring you to the more common phrase
    • Same for "greaves"--look up "Arms and Armor" instead.

Bible Commentary

What does it provide?

  • an INTERPRETATION of the spiritual, historical, and literary meaning of the text (verse, passage, chapter, etc)
  • it may COMPARE the text to similar passages, similar uses of a word, or the meaning of different translations or editions this explanation will be in-depth

Where to find?

  • Reference or 1st floor stacks (search or browse 222-228 section)
  • One set of New Interpreter's is on Reserve

How to use?

  • Look up your passage in the ORDER it appears in the Bible
    • If your passage is in Mark, find a commentary that includes Mark (it will be all about Mark, all about the Gospels, or all about the New Testament)
    • Locate the book of Mark in the commentary (it will be in the same order as in the Bible)
    • Locate the passage (again, it will be in the same order as in the Bible)

Bible Atlas

What does it provide?   

  • Maps of the lands mentioned in the Bible
  • Usually, the atlas provides both historically accurate (from all time periods relevant) and present-day maps

Where to find?   

  • Reference (1st floor as you walk in)
  • General Stacks (rest of 1st floor; search OneSearch)Search for Bible Atlas in OneSearch to know where to look

How to use?

  • Figure out how the atlas is ordered (it may be alphabetical, geographical, or historical) and find the map you need. You may need to use the index.

Vogel Library, Wartburg College   |   100 Wartburg Blvd, Waverly, IA, 50677 |   Phone: 319-352-8500   | Email: asklibrarian@wartburg.edu