This guide is designed for use particularly in the graduate courses of the Faculty of Theology; it is also useful for undergraduate students in the Christianity and Culture Program. It is maintained by Noel S. McFerran. It was last updated July 2012.
- Period & Topic Specific Encyclopedias and Dictionaries
- Biblical Resources
- Other Primary Sources
- Finding Journal Articles
There are an enormous number of theological reference works (encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, indexes, etc.) which provide an overview of a particular topic, and lead the student to the most important books and journal articles. Determining which reference sources are “standard” largely depends on the theological perspective and denominational background of the particular user. This guide aims to identify and describe some of the most important of these reference sources, emphasizing (but not exclusively) those written from the Catholic perspective.
2nd edition. Washington, DC: Gale, 2003. 15 volumes + supplements.
[Available online for UofT use.]
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BX 841 .N44 2003]
This work is the major English-language encyclopedia on Catholic topics. It contains some 17,000 articles, each with a bibliography. Unfortunately many of the articles in the 2003/online edition are reprints from the 1967 edition without any updating. The 1967 edition of the New Catholic Encyclopedia (St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area BX 841 .N44 1967) and the 1907 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia (available online; St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BX 841 .C25 1907) include some articles on topics not included in the 2003 edition of the New Catholic Encyclopedia; these works may be particularly useful for some historical topics.
Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999 — 2008. 5 volumes.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BR 95 .E8913 1999]
This work is the major English-language theological encyclopedia from a Protestant perspective. It emphasizes post-Reformation and particularly contemporary Christianity. Many of the articles are translated from the German Evangelisches Kirchenlexikon (Robarts 4th Floor Reference Area — BR 95 .E92 1986).
[Available online for UofT use.]
An online collection of thirty different encyclopedias and dictionaries on various religious topics. Very strong in some areas (e.g. Protestantism, monasticism, early Christianity), but weak in other areas.
See also the separate Research Guide to Systematic Theology.
Edited by F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingstone. 3rd edition revised. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
[Available online for UofT use.]
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BR 95 .O8 2005]
Brief, scholarly articles with bibliographies on over 6,000 topics. This dictionary is particularly good for identifying individuals and for historical topics.
By Gerald O'Collins and Edward G. Farrugia. Revised edition. New York: Paulist, 2000.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BR 95 .O25 2000]
Precise paragraph-length definitions of theological terms, as well as some biblical, catechetical, ethical, historical, liturgical, and philosophical terms used in theological studies. Written from a Catholic perspective. A similar Catholic work is Saint Mary's Press Glossary of Theological Terms by John T. Ford (St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BX1751.3 .F66 2006). A similar Protestant work is Essential Theological Terms by Justo L. Gonzalez (St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BR 96.5 .G66 2005).
Edited by Alan Richardson and John Bowden. London: SCM Press, 1983.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BR 95 .R47 1983]
Short signed articles by almost 100 different contributors. This work has a British and Anglican emphasis - but not exclusively.
Edited by Joseph A. Komonchak. Wilmington, DE: Glazier, 1987.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BR 95 .N38 1990]
Over 200 essay-length articles which explain the official teaching of the Catholic Church as well as theological opinions held by individual scholars. Includes bibliographies.
Edited by René Latourelle and Rino Fisichella. New York: Crossroad, 1994.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BT 1102 .D5814 1994]
This work includes some 220 articles, over half of which are written by professors of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Thirty of the articles are major essays (e.g. christology, Church, revelation) which serve as guides to the other articles in the dictionary. A similar work is Handbook of Catholic Theology, edited by Wolfgang Beinert and Francis Schussler Fiorenza (St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BX 1747.5 L4913 1995).
Edited by Trevor A. Hart. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BT 21.2 .D53 2000]
Over 300 articles on the key figures, theological movements, and significant texts that have shaped Christian thought. The choice of topics in the modern period is overwhelmingly Protestant.
See also the separate Research Guide to Church History.
Edited by Angelo Di Berardino. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. 2 volumes.
St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BR 66.5 .D5813 1992]
The most scholarly English-language dictionary of Christian antiquity with twice as many articles and a broader coverage than Everett Ferguson's Encyclopedia of Early Christianity (available online for UofT use). The entries, ranging from one or two paragraphs to five or six pages in length, include substantial bibliographies of primary sources and major secondary works in English as well as in other Western European languages.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. 3 volumes.
[Available online for UofT use]
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — DF 521 .O93 1991]
Major survey articles as well as shorter articles on lesser topics. Covers the Byzantine Empire from the 4th to the 15th centuries.
New York: Charles Scribners' Sons, 1982-1989. 13 volumes.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — D 114 .D5]
Articles (many of essay length) on all aspects of medieval scholarship. A much smaller work is Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, edited by André Vauchez (but available online for UofT use).
Edited by Hans J. Hillerbrand. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. 4 volumes.
[Available online for UofT use]
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BR 302.8 .O93 1996.]
More than 1200 scholarly articles. Many of the bibliographies are annotated and are divided into separate lists of primary and secondary sources.
Edited by Nicholas Lossky and others. 2nd edition. Geneva: WCC Publications, 2003.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BX 6.3 .D53 2003]
Articles on the ecumenical aspects of particular theological topics (e.g. grace), as well as articles on important persons and groups in ecumenical dialogue. This work is generally more useful than the Historical Dictionary of Ecumenical Christianity (St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BX 6.3 .V36 1994), which does, however, include more biographical articles.
Edited by Scott Hahn. New York: Doubleday, 2009.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BS 440 .H23 2009]
Edited by David Noel Freedman. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area - BS 440 .E44 2000]
Edited by Paul J. Achtemeier. San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1996.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BS 440 .H235 1996]
Bible dictionaries include articles about Biblical persons, places, events, concepts, and institutions. The articles are normally brief; they note the most relevant Scriptural passages, but usually do not include any bibliographies.
Edited by David Noel Freedman. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2006-2009. 5 volumes.
[Knox / Emmanuel / Trinity Reference Area — BS 440 .N445 2006]
Edited by David Noel Freedman. New York: Doubleday, 1992. 6 volumes.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BS 440 .A54 1992]
The New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible and The Anchor Bible Dictionary are the standard scholarly English-language encyclopedias on Biblical topics. The New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible is more current and is directed to pastors and theological students. The Anchor Bible Dictionary often has longer more in-depth articles.
Edited by G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1973 - 2006. 15 volumes.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BS 440 .T452]
Edited by Gerhard Kittel. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-1976. 10 volumes.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BS 440 .K58]
The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament and the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (often called "Kittel") are respectively the standard works for biblical word studies in Hebrew and Greek. Each article includes a discussion of the etymology of the word, an examination of the secular use of a term, followed by a more extensive examination of its theological significance.
Edited by Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Roland E. Murphy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BS 491.2 .N485 1990]
The standard one-volume scholarly commentary to the Bible from a Catholic perspective.
Editors: James D.G. Dunn and John W. Rogerson. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BS 491.3 .E37 2003]
One of several one-volume scholarly commentaries to the Bible from a mainline Protestant perspective.
Edited by J. Neuner and J. Dupuis. 7th edition. New York: Alba, 2001.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BX 1747.5 .C4813 2001]
This work is the standard English-language translation of exerpts of papal and conciliar statements arranged by subject. It is the appropiate tool to use when looking for the major magisterial documents on a particular theological topic (e.g. grace). The original language text of each document (usually Greek or Latin) can be found in the Enchiridion symbolorum, first edited by Johannes Denzinger (St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BX 1749 .D415 1999). An older but similar work, The Sources of Catholic Dogma (St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BX 1749 .D413 1957), arranges excerpts of the most important papal and conciliar statements in chronological order.
Selected and edited by Henry Bettenson and Chris Maunder. 3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BR 141 .D6 1999]
A standard collection of excerpts from the primary sources most frequently referred to in theological study: from antiquity to the modern period and including both Catholic and Protestant documents.
Edited by William A. Jurgens. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1970-1979. 3 volumes.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BR 63 .F3 1970b]
This work is a very selective chronologically arranged collection of English-language translations of the most important patristic passages needed for theological study. Each volume has a detailed doctrinal index to locate patristic passages by subject. The original Greek or Latin text of most of these passages can be found in Rouet de Journel's Enchiridion patristicum (St Michael's 3rd Floor — BR 63 .E56 1959).
Thomas Aquinas. London: Blackfriars, 1964-1976. 61 volumes.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BX 1749 .T5 S913 1964]
Saint Thomas' Summa theologiae is the principal doctrinal synthesis of Catholic theology. This edition includes the Latin text and an English-language translation. Each volume includes a subject index and a useful glossary of theological words. For an abridgment of this work, use Summa theologia: A Concise Translation (St Michael's 3rd Floor — BX 1749 .T5 S913 1989). An older English-language translation is available online.
[Revised translation] Vatican City: Liberia Editrice Vaticana, 1999.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BX 1959.3 E5 1999]
"A statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, and the Church's Magisterium. ... a sure norm for teaching the faith." (John Paul II, Fidei depositum).
By Ludwig Ott. Rockford, IL: Tan, 1974
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — BX 1751.2 .O813 1974]
This book is a basic outline of the teachings of the Catholic Church which presents essential statements of doctrine and attempts to explain the foundations of that teaching in Sacred Scripture and Tradition. It is excellent for determining how official a particular teaching is (e.g. de fide or merely the more probable opinion held by most theologians). Since it was published in 1955, it does not include any references to sources from the past fifty years.
Available online (1949 - present) for UofT use]
Over one million bibliographic citations to journal articles, essays in books, and book reviews in the field of religion. Covers all aspects of the major world religions, but excludes most Catholic journals (which are indexed in the Catholic Periodical and Literature Index).
[Available online (1981 - present) for UofT use]
[Print version (1930 - 1980): St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area — AI 3 .C3]
Over 200,000 bibliographic citations to Catholic books, book reviews, and journal articles from more than 160 Catholic magazines. Includes both scholarly and popular material. Use the print version to find articles published before 1981.
Both the ATLA Religion Database and the Catholic Periodical and Literature Index include links to many full-text electronic journal articles.
It is possible to search the ATLA Religon Database and the Catholic Periodical and Literature Index at the same time: when you are using one or the other index, click on the blue "Choose Databases" tab at the top of the webpage, place checkmarks against both indexes, and then click on the "Continue" tab.
The major index to European theological journals.