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Reference Tools for Religious Studies - Research Guide

This selective bibliography is an introduction to research in Religious Studies. Included are works which emphasize the study of various religious traditions. Basic tools from the Reference collection in Van Pelt and the general collection are listed. It attempts to provide access to key print and electronic reference tools. For links to additional web resources such as e-journals, comprehensive web sites, and source collections on the web, see the Religious Studies: E-Resources page.

Excluded are most reference works of a general nature which may contain material of use within the religious studies discipline. Many of these tools are listed in the Special Bibliography entitled General Reference Sources in the Social Sciences and Humanities.

For assistance in using these and the many other reference works available for Religious Studies, please consult a reference librarian.

Library Catalogs

Franklin, Penn's online catalog, lists over one million books, journals and other materials acquired since 1968, as well as older items. 95% of the Penn Library's collection is cataloged in it. See the Franklin Search Help for searching tips.

Franklin uses Library of Congress subject headings. For subject heading, terms see the Library of Congress Subject Headings, located near the reference desk on the first floor of the Van Pelt Library. Also, when looking at Franklin records of interest, chose the "full view" and note the subject headings assigned to these works. Many subjects are subdivided by such standard forms as bibliography, collections, dictionaries, periodicals, or by the names of places. LC Subject Headings must be entered in Franklin without the dashes.

Main Card Catalog. The Main Catalog in Van Pelt Library is now closed. It lists books, journals, and other materials in most campus libraries through 1985. The catalog is arranged in "dictionary" style--that is, with author, title, and subject entries interfiled in a single alphabet.

RLIN/Eureka Bibliographic File - Research Libraries Group Catalog
A bibliographic catalog of over 30 million books, serials, archives and manuscripts, musical scores, visual materials, maps, and data files held in over 100 large research libraries and current cataloging of the Library of Congress and the British Library. Since the catalog is so large, the best method for searching is to use known items such as authors, titles, or Library of Congress subject headings. Use this catalog to identify materials that Penn does not own and request them through Interlibrary Loan.

WorldCat. Another large, 30+ million union catalog that includes the holdings of many university, college, and public libraries. Several Philadelphia-area libraries are included in WorldCat.

Guides to the Literature

Selective introductions to research, listing some of the most useful and important works on their subjects, often with descriptive and evaluative annotations. These guides also list reference tools and or basic studies in their subject.

Gorman, G. E. and Gorman, Lyn. Theological and religious reference materials. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1984- . 3v.
International and interdenominational in scope, this work covers traditional reference tools as well as broad surveys and text books. Includes works from all Western languages and from all traditions.
[Van Pelt Reference BS 511.2 G67 1984]

Johnston, William M. Recent reference books in religion : a guide for students, scholars, researchers, buyers & readers. Downers Grove, IL : InterVarsity Press, c 1996.
Very good for recent reference books with excellent critical annotations.
[Van Pelt Reference BL48 .J64 1996]

Kepple, Robert J. and Muether, John R. Reference works for theological research: an annotated selective bibliographical guide. 3rd ed. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1992.
A guide to reference tools limited basically to the Christian religion. The first section groups titles by type; the second by subject area.
[Van Pelt Reference BR 118 K46 1992]
A reader's guide to the great religions. Ed. by Charles J. Adams. 2d ed. New York: Free Press, 1977.
Thirteen bibliographic essays on religions of the world. Includes Author and Subject Index.
[Van Pelt Reference BL 80.2 A3 1977]


International bibliography of the history of religions. Published in connection with Numen with the support of U.N.E.S.C.O. and under the auspices of the International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies by the International Associ ation for the History of Religions. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1952-1973. 20v.
Lists books and articles published during a given year on the history of various religions around the world. Classified arrangement.
[Z 7833 I53]

K44oszegi, Michael A. Sexuality, religion and magic : a comprehensive guide to sources. New York : Garland Pub., 1994.
Emphasis on Christianity, but covers Judaism, Islam, religions of Asia, Trantra, and occultism.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks BL65.S4 K67 1994]
Turner, Harold W. Bibliography of new religious movements in primal societies. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1977. 4v.
Contents: V. I, Black Africa; V.II, North America; V. III, Oceanis; V. IV, Europe and Asia.
Each volume lists writings for theory, general studies, them by region covered and by particular movements. Each volume has its own Author and Subject Indexes.
[Van Pelt Reference BL80 T88]


ATLA religion database. Evanston, Ill: American Theological Library Association.
Contents: Religion index one: periodicals (1949-) -- Religion index two: multi-author works (1960-) -- Index to book reviews in religion (1949-) -- Research in ministry (1981-) -- Methodist reviews index (1818- 1985).

Religious and theological abstracts. Vol. 1 [Mar. 1958]- . Myerstown, PA: Religious and Theological Abstracts, Inc. Quarterly.
Brief abstracts of articles appearing in about 336 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim journals in various languages. Author and Subject Indexes.
[Latest 5 years in Van Pelt Reference BR1 R286]

Richardson, Ernest Cushing, 1860-1939. Periodical articles on religion, 1890-1899. New York, For the Hartford seminary press by C. Scribner's sons; [etc., etc., c1907-1911]. 2v.
Only indexes 10 years worth of articles. Author index.
[Van Pelt Reference BL41 .R55 1907]

Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

Abingdon dictionary of living religions. Ed. by Keith Crim. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1981.
A guide to religions that are still being practiced, the work provides extensive coverage of the religions with biographical information of major figures included. Has cross-references and bibliographies.
[Van Pelt Reference BL 31 A24]

Brockman, Norbert C. Encyclopedia of sacred places. Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, 1997.
Covers the entire world. Includes maps, sites listed by religious tradition, entries by country, and a list of entries on the UNESCO World Heritage List of Cultural Sites.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks BL580 .B76 1997; 2nd copy in Van Pelt stacks]

Eerdmans' handbook to the world's religions. Ed. by R. Pierce Beaver, et al. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. 1982.
Includes living and dead religions. The articles are brief, but the volume has a wide scope. Subject access is provided through a General Index.
[Van Pelt Reference BL 80.2 E35 1994]

The encyclopedia of religion. Ed. by Mircea Eliade. New York: Macmillan, 1987. 16v.
Worldwide coverage with broad essays on religious traditions, individuals, and themes. Emphasis is on the comparative study of religions. Use of the Index in v. 16 is essential.
[Van Pelt Reference BL 31 E46 1987]

Encyclopaedia of religion and ethics. Ed. by James Hastings. New York: Scribner, 1951. 13v.
One of the most comprehensive religious encyclopedias in the English language. Articles are long and scholarly, and discuss belief systems, customs, and social topics relating to ethical. The Index volume has indexes to subjects, foreign words, and scripture passages.
[Van Pelt Reference BL 31 E4 1951]

Encyclopedia of religion and society. Walnut Creek, CA : AltaMira Press, c1998.
A compendium of the study of religion from the disciplines of anthropology, psychology, and sociology.
Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks BL60 .E53 1998; also at CJS and Museum libraries]

Guiley, Rosemary. The encyclopedia of ghosts and spirits. New York : Facts on File, c1992.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks BF1461 .G85 1992]

Man, myth & magic : the illustrated encyclopedia of mythology, religion, and the unknown. New York : M. Cavendish, 1997. 21v.
Alphabetical arrangement. Last volume is the index. Bibliograph in volume 1.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks BF1407 .M34 1997]

The new Schaff-Herzog encyclopedia of religious knowledge... Ed. by Albert Hauck. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1908-12. (Repr: Grand Rapids, MI: 1949-50). 13v.
Based on J. J. Herzog's Realencyklopadie fur Protestantische Theologie und Kirche, this work represents one of the most important encyclopedic works from a Protestant perspective. A supplement entitled Twentieth century encyclopedia of religious knowledge brings the set up to date.
[Van Pelt Reference BR 95 S435; 2nd copy in Van Pelt stacks]

Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart: Handwvrterbuch f|r Theologie und Religionswissenschaft. 3. vollig neubearb. Aufl...hrsg. von Kurt Galling. Tubingen: Mohr, 1957 - 1965. 7v.
This work, written from the German Protestant viewpoint, features signed articles and lengthy bibliographies.
[Van Pelt BL 31 R42]

Van Scott, Miriam. Encyclopedia of hell. New York : St. Martin's Press, 1998.
Brief articles about the underworld from a variety of religious perspectives and historical periods. No index. Selected bibliography.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks BL545 .V26 1998]


The Directory of religious organizations in the United States. Falls Church, VA: McGrath, 1982- .
Alphabetical listing of over 1,600 organizations which have a religious purpose. Indicates affiliation, principal officer, address, statement of purpose, activities, membership, publications, etc.
[Latest in Van Pelt Reference BL2530.U6 D573]

Periodicals Directories

Regazzi, John J. and Theodore C. Hines. A guide to indexed periodicals in religion. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1975.
A listing in alphabetical order of over 2,000 periodicals. Indicates which indexing and abstracting services include each title. Keyword index.
[Van Pelt Reference BR1 R277]

Walsh, Michael J. Religious bibliographies in serial literature : a guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981.
Alphabetical order of 178 periodical indexes and journals devoted to topics in religion. Good descriptions of bibliographical information, arrangement and coverage. Subject and Title Indexes.
[Van Pelt Reference BL1 W35]

Religious periodicals directory. Ed. by Graham Cornish. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1986.
Alphabetical arrangement of journal titles within six geographical regions of the world. Further divided by country. Generally, if 30% of a journal's content covers religion, it is included. Entries include ISSN, beginning date, frequency, scope note and language. Title Index; Subject Geographic Index.
[Van Pelt Reference BL48 C62 1986]

Religious periodicals of the United States : academic and scholarly journals. Ed. by Charles H. Lippy. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986.
A sampling of religious periodicals that focus on academic and scholarly concerns. Periodicals were selected by meeting several criteria. Lengthy entries include a history of the periodical with a bibliography and a publication history. Appendices include a chronology and sponsoring organizations. Name Subject Title index.
[Van Pelt Reference PN4888.R4 L5 1986]


Dissertation title index. [Iowa City, Iowa : Council on Graduate Studies in Religion. 1952-1977.
[Van Pelt Library Religious Studies Seminar Z7751 .C72]

Dissertation Abstracts. Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI.
The most comprehensive source of dissertation information. Citations date from 1861 to the present. Citation records are from Dissertation Abstracts International (DAI), Comprehensive Dissertation Index (CDI), and Masters Abstracts International (MAI).


International biographical dictionary of religion : an encyclopedia of more than 4,000 leading personalities. Jon C. Jenkins, editor. M|nchen : Saur, 1994.
Online version
[Van Pelt Reference BL72 .I584 1994]

Internationaler biographischer Index der Religion : Theologen, Prediger, Rabbiner und Ordensleute = World biographical index of religion : theologians, preachers, rabbis and members of a religious order. 5v. M|nchen : Saur, 1997.
[Van Pelt Reference BL72 .I58 1997]

Who's who in religion. 1st ed.- , 1975/76- . Chicago: Marquis Who's Who.
Provides biographical information on more than 7,000 religious leaders and religious professionals in North America. Selection based on merit. Alphabetical arrangement.
[Latest in Van Pelt Reference BL72 W478]

Who's who in theology and science : an international biographical and bibliographical guide to individuals and organizations interested in the interaction of theology and science. John Templeton Foundation, editor. New York : Continuum, 1996.
[Van Pelt Reference BL240.2 .W514 1996]