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John M. Kelly Library

Research Guide to Systematic Theology

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This research guide is designed for use particularly in the graduate courses of the Faculty of Theology. It is maintained by Noel S. McFerran. It was last updated July 2012.


Papal, Conciliar, and Curial Statements

Documents published by the Holy See or by a church council are often referred to by a common title, derived from the first few words of the text. Usually this will be in Latin; e.g. the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, issued at Vatican II, is commonly called Gaudium et spes. When looking for a particular document it is helpful to know this common title, the date the document was issued, and who exactly issued it (e.g. the pope, an ecumenical council, a congregation of the Roman Curia).

English translations of current papal and curial documents can usually be found on the Vatican website. For English translations of other church documents, use the Catholic Periodical and Literature Index. It indexes the contents of many journals and magazines including Origins and L'Osservatore Romano.

Older documents can often be found in one of the works listed below:


The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church.

The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church.

Edited by J. Neuner and J. Dupuis. 7th ed. 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 excerpts of papal and conciliar statements arranged by subject. It is the appropriate tool to use when looking for the major documents on a particular 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 Heinrich Denzinger (St Michael's Reference BX 1749 .D415 1999). An older but similar work, The Sources of Catholic Dogma (St Michael's Reference BX 1749 .D413 1957), arranges excerpts of the most important papal and conciliar statements in chronological order.

Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils.

Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils.

Edited by Norman J. Tanner. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1990. 2 volumes.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BX 825 .A1990]
This work includes the original text (either Greek or Latin) of the decrees of each of the 21 ecumenical councils of the Catholic Church as well as an English translation. There are numerous indexes which enable one to locate what has been taught about a particular topic.

Papal Writings

The Documents of Vatican II.

[Available online.]
[Abbott translation: St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BX 830 1962 .A3 G3 1966]
[Flannery translation: St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BX 830 1962 .A3 F55 v.1]
The official Latin text of the documents of Vatican II - as well as English, Italian, and Spanish translations - is available on the Vatican website; the English translations are those prepared by the National Catholic Welfare Conference. Abbott and Flannery are the two most widely used English translations.

Dictionary of the Council.

Dictionary of the Council.

Edited by J. Derentz and A. Nocent. London: Chapman, 1968.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BX 830 1962 A48 D43 1968b]
Paragraph-length excerpts from the documents of Vatican II arranged by subject under almost 500 headings with cross references and an index.

[Papal Writings, Vatican Website.]

[Papal Writings, Vatican Website.]

[Available online.]
The official text of many 20th and 21st century papal statements (including most encyclicals, apostolic constitutions, and apostolic exhortations) is available on the Vatican website. For many documents the official text is in Latin. Usually an English-language translation is also available, and often translations in other languages.

The Papal Encyclicals, 1740-1981.

The Papal Encyclicals, 1740-1981.

Edited by Claudia Carlen. Wilmington, NC: McGrath, 1981. 5 volumes.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BX 860 .C37 1981]
This work provides English translations of the 110 encyclicals issued by the popes from Benedict XIV to the first three years of the reign of John Paul II. An encyclical is a particular type of papal letter; today it is used for letters to the entire college of bishops on important topics. This work does not include other papal documents (e.g. apostolic letters, apostolic constitutions, bulls). There is a subject index and a bibliography of articles and books commenting on each encyclical.

Papal Pronouncements : A Guide, 1740-1978.

Papal Pronouncements : A Guide, 1740-1978.

Edited by Claudia Carlen. Ann Arbor, MI: Pierian, 1990. 2 volumes.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BX 850 .C37 1990]
This work gives brief summaries of major papal statements from Benedict XIV to John Paul I. Included are encyclicals, apostolic letters, and papal documents issued motu proprio, as well as many addresses and radio messages - but not documents published by the offices of the Roman Curia. Sources for the complete original text and for an English translation (if there is one) are listed. There is an extensive subject index. Use this work to verify the name and date of a document and to find out where an English translation is available.

Other Primary Sources

The Faith of the Early Fathers.

The Faith of the Early Fathers.

Edited by William A. Jurgens. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1970-1979. 3 volumes.
[St Michael's 3rd Floor Stacks – BR 63 J.F3 1970b]
This work is a chronologically-arranged collection of the most important patristic passages needed for theological study. It serves as an English-language version of Rouet de Journel's Enchiridion patristicum (St Michael's BQ 5217 .R68 1962). Each volume has a detailed doctrinal index to locate patristic passages by subject.

Summa theologiae.

Summa theologiae.

Aquinas, Thomas.
London: Blackfriars, 1964-1976. 61 volumes.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BX1749 .T5 S913 1964]
Saint Thomas' Summa theologiae is the principal doctrinal synthesis of Catholic theology. This edition includes the Latin text and an English translation. Each volume includes a subject index and a useful glossary of important theological words. For an abridged form of this work, use Summa theologiae: A Concise Translation (St Michael's BX 1749 .T48 1989). The 1947 English-language translation of the Summa is available in the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

Multi-Volume Encyclopedias

New Catholic Encyclopedia.

New Catholic Encyclopedia.

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 (St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area BX 841 .N44 1967) includes some articles on topics not included in the 2003 edition.

Sacramentum mundi : An Encyclopedia of Theology.

Sacramentum mundi : An Encyclopedia of Theology.

Edited by Karl Rahner et al. New York: Herder & Herder, 1968. 6 volumes.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BR 95 .S23 1969]
The articles in this encyclopedia are each several pages in length and make significant use of the documents of Vatican II. They are written by some of the most important Catholic theologians of the 1960s. The bibliographies emphasise English-language material. An abridged version of this work, Encyclopedia of Theology: The Concise Sacramentum mundi (St Michael's Reference BR 95 .E48 1975), includes a number of totally revised articles.

The Encyclopedia of Christianity.

The Encyclopedia of Christianity.

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).

The Catholic Encyclopedia.

The Catholic Encyclopedia.

New York: Robert Appleton, 1907. 16 volumes + 3 supplements.
[Available online.]
[Print version: St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BX 841 .C25 1907]
For over fifty years this work was the chief source of information on the Catholic Church in English-speaking countries. Because of its length (it has almost twice as many words as the New Catholic Encyclopedia) and its emphasis on historical articles, it is still useful.

Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique.

Dictionnaire de théologie catholique.

Edited by A. Vacant and E. Magenot. Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 1908-1949. 15 volumes.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BX 841 .D68]
Universally regarded as one of the most authoritative works in its field, this encylopedia covers all aspects of theology. It includes many very long articles with extensive bibliographies.

One-Volume Dictionaries

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

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.

A Concise Dictionary of Theology.

A Concise Dictionary of Theology.

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 BX1751.3 .F66 2006). A similar work is Essential Theological Terms by Justo L. Gonzalez (St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area - BR 96.5 .G66 2005).

The New Dictionary of Theology.

The New Dictionary of Theology.

Edited by Joseph A. Komonchak et al. Wilmington, DE: Glazier, 1987.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BR 95 .N38 1991]
This work includes over 200 multi-page articles, many on subjects which have only developed since Vatican II (e.g. liberation theology). The articles explain the official teaching of the Church, as well as theological opinions held by individual scholars. Each article includes a bibliography of writings in English.

Dictionary of Fundamental Theology.

Dictionary of Fundamental Theology.

Edited by Reni 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 Schüssler Fiorenza (St Michael’s 1st Floor Reference Area – BX 1747.5 .L4913 1995).

The Dictionary of Historical Theology.

The Dictionary of Historical Theology.

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.

Dictionary of Theology.

Dictionary of Theology.

Edited by Karl Rahner and Herbert Vorgrimler. New York: Crossroad, 1985.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BR 95 .R313 1985]
"Brief explanations . . . of the most important concepts of modern Catholic dogmatic theology, for readers who are prepared to make an intellectual report" (Preface). Some editions of this work have the title Theological Dictionary.

The library also owns numerous dictionaries and encyclopedias on specific theological subjects, including the following works which are useful for determining the teaching of a particular theologian on a specific topic (e.g. what Saint Ambrose wrote about the Holy Spirit).


Corpus Christi: An Encyclopedia of the Eucharist.

Corpus Christi: An Encyclopedia of the Eucharist.

Wilmington, DE: Glazier, 1988.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BX 2215.2 .O28 1988]

Ecclesia: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Church.

Ecclesia: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Church.

Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BX 841 .O36 1996]

Theotokos: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Theotokos: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Wilmington, DE: Glazier, 1982.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BT 599 .O25 1983]

Trinitas: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Holy Trinity.

Trinitas: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Holy Trinity.

Wilmington, DE: Glazier, 1987.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BT 111.2 .O24 1987]

Veni Creator Spiritus: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Holy Spirit.

Veni Creator Spiritus: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Holy Spirit.

Wilmington, DE: Glazier, 1990.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BT 121.2 .O335 1990]

Verbum caro: A Theological Encyclopedia on Jesus, the Christ.

Verbum caro: A Theological Encyclopedia on Jesus, the Christ.

Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1992.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BT 199 .O23 1992]

Handbooks

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

[Revised translation]. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1999.
[Available online.]
[Print version: 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).

Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma.

Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma.

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 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.

Finding Journal Articles

Catholic Periodical and Literature Index.

Catholic Periodical and Literature Index.

[Available online (1981 - present) for UofT use]
[Print version (1930 - 1980): St Michael's 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.

ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials.

ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials.

[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).

It is possible to search the ATLA Religion 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.

Both the ATLA Religion Database and the Catholic Periodical and Literature Index include links to many full-text electronic journal articles.


Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses: Elenchus Bibliographicus.

Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses: Elenchus Bibliographicus.

[St Michael's 1st Floor Bound Journals (1924 - present)]
The major European index to books and journal articles in the field of Catholic theology. Citations are arranged in broad subject categories (not by specific subject headings).

Bibliographies

Critical Guide to Catholic Reference Books.

Critical Guide to Catholic Reference Books.

By James Patrick McCabe. 3rd edition. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1989.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area – BX 1751.2 .M252 1989]
An annotated list of "over fifteen hundred of the most important reference books in English and foreign languages whose contents or point of view relate in some way to Catholicism." (Preface)