Skip to Main Content
Chat With Us

Bible Study Quick Start


Getting Started

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

How to find Bible commentaries


  • Start with the Yale Anchor Bible commentary series
  • Search for "[book of the Bible] and Bible commentaries": "Genesis and Bible commentaries"
  • If your professor wants you to use a certain series of commentaries you can add the name of the series to your search:  "Job and Anchor Bible"


  • Search ATLA Religion using the Scripture option at top left. Click through to the book and chapter you need.

Bonus tips

Something like the Anchor Bible Dictionary or Oxford Reference Online (a collection of facts and background information on religious studies) might be helpful to put your passage in context, or to explain who, what, and where is involved with it.

If you need a Bible, and the library catalog have several different versions. The New Revised Standard Version is probably the one you want, but if your professor wants another, it's probably there too. And we have hundreds of Bibles you can check out if you'd prefer to read in print. 

Frequently Asked Questions

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?
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 likely 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.You can also do a library catalog search for "bible dictionaries" to find more. Important note: Pay attention to the publication dates--many of our electronic books are from the 19th century.
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. Other popular series are the Hermeneia, the International Critical Commentary, and the Sacra Pagina. Not all of those series are complete in electronic form, but you'll also be able to find information on your book in something like the New Collegeville Bible Commentary or the one-volume New Interpreter's Bible Commentary. You can find more by searching for “bible commentaries” and the name of the book you’re working with in the library catalog. Commentaries on many books will be available online, but keep looking if you don't find one in the first group.
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 Moran at the Theology and Ministry Library on the Brighton Campus.


Profile Photo
Chris Strauber
O'Neill Library, room 413
Boston College Libraries
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
Social: Twitter Page