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The Basics

Books

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Books cover virtually any topic, fact or fiction. For research purposes, you will probably be looking for books that synthesize all the information on one topic to support a particular argument or thesis. Libraries organize and store their book collections on shelves called "stacks". Electronic books, called ebooks, are also available through your library.

Use a book

  • when looking for comprehensive information on a topic
  • to put your topic in context with other important issues
  • to find historical information
  • to find summaries of research to support an argument

Reference books contain authoritative information and are used to look up facts. Here are some examples of reference books that you will find useful.

Bible atlases

  • reveals geographical background to events in the Old and New Testaments
  • provide maps of the same area through various periods of history
  • contains terrain maps, city plans, economic maps, climate information, diagrams, political maps, photos, text, and timelines

Examples

  • Hammond's Atlas of the Bible Lands
  • NIV Atlas of the Bible
  • Oxford Bible Atlas

Bible dictionaries and Bible encyclopedias

  • contain articles on every Bible-related topic imaginable
  • give you the state of research on a particular topic

Note: Currency matters and most Bible dictionaries that are available on the Web were published over one hundred years ago. So use the library for the most recent archaeology and scholarship.

Examples

  • The Anchor Bible Dictionary
  • Eerdman's Dictionary of the Bible
  • The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Bible commentaries

  • give information about the meaning of a scripture verse
  • compare different interpretations
  • usually consist of several dozen volumes

Examples

  • The New Interpreter's Bible
  • Word Biblical Commentary
  • Believers Church Bible Commentary

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