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Bible Study Quick Start

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Getting Started

A brief overview of basic sources and approaches to doing exegesis and interpretation of the Bible

Bible Study Quick Start

Who this guide is for:
 
You’ve been assigned a Biblical exegesis/interpretation assignment and you’re not sure where to start. Don't panic, Boston College has invested heavily in this topic. It's one of the best places in the world to work on a topic like this.
 
1. Where do I find a Bible?
 
Several editions commonly assigned at BC (New Oxford Annotated Bible, Oxford Study Bible, Catholic Study Bible) are available in Oxford Biblical Studies Online, along with commentaries and other tools for analysis. Bible Gateway is an ad-supported open web version of lots of Biblical texts and translations. There are also dozens of copies of the Bible you can check out. Look them up in the library catalog, or head to the fifth floor of O'Neill and look for call numbers in the neighborhood of BS 192.
 
If what you need is the text of the Bible, any version using the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) will be fine.
 
2. I need some help understanding what I'm reading
 
Bible dictionaries are designed to help you learn and remember who, what, when, and where. There are lots of them, but a particularly good one is the Anchor Bible Dictionary. There are others included in Oxford Biblical Studies Online, or you can do a library catalog search for "bible dictionaries" to find more.
 
3. I need a scholarly commentary that goes line-by-line through my passage
 
Anchor Bible commentaries are book-length commentaries on an entire book of the Bible
You can find more by searching for “bible commentaries” and the name of the book you’re working with in the library catalog
 
You can also search several of our article databases by book of the Bible, chapter, and verse
 
ATLA (American Theological Library Association) Religion
New Testament Abstracts (particularly useful at BC)
 
4. How do I cite the Bible and other sources in my paper?
 
Usually your professor will specify a particular translation of the Bible to use. In that case, you’ll just refer to the book, chapter, and verse(s) you’re referring to, like this: Genesis 1:1-6, Revelation 4
 
If there isn’t a specified edition it’s a good idea to say you're using, say, the New Revised Standard Version or the Catholic Study Bible. You can either do this in the text the first time you cite the Bible, or if your professor wants it done more formally, do a bibliography entry for it also.
 
For how to cite other kinds of sources, the library guide to Citing Sources has helpful information on a variety of styles and approaches. Bonus tip: The Anchor Bible commentaries are books in a series, sometimes in different editions. Those are both details to include, and there's advice on how to do it in the guide. Scholarly encyclopedias often have different authors for each entry, and Biblical scholars frequently write anthologies, which are books with one editor and multiple authors. Give the author who wrote the thing you're using proper credit.
 
5. I'm not finding what I need.
 
For more detail, see our more detailed Biblical Studies research guide, which provides a little more context, and many more sources to explore.
 
You can also ask for help at the reference desk, or get in touch with our theology experts: Chris Strauber at O'Neill, and Jennifer Butler at the Theology and Ministry Library on the Brighton Campus.

Librarian

Chris Strauber's picture
Chris Strauber
Contact:
O'Neill Library, Room 309
Boston College Libraries
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
617-552/4447