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Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Clergy Martin Patrick Kent State University, SLIS LIS 60001

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF RESOURCES FOR CLERGY One of the significant findings of the literature and my conversations with clergy is the

lack of library usage. While no conclusive evidence exists regarding the why of this finding, this finding is consistent from the very earliest study on clergy's behavior regarding information from 1944 up to the present. It is possible that clergy do not feel that a public library has resources advanced enough for them, and that they are unaware that their seminary alma mater may offer them borrowing and database access privileges for free. For instance, ATLA's journal article database is not available through a public library, but may be available through their alma mater. The major information need that clergy face is the preparation of sermons, which is usually a weekly endeavor. Most Mainline denominations follow the Revised Common Lectionary, which removes the process of choosing a text on which to base a sermon, and instead offers several readings that the pastor can choose individually or "mash-up" for the sermon. This annotated bibliography will therefore focus on resources that support the sermon preparation task, and that, as much as possible do not rely on institutional subscriptions except those resources that are too extensive to be ignored. ATLA Religion Database. (n.d.). EBSCOHost. Retrieved from 6-2177-4688-b4d1-aac0fe41d17a%40sessionmgr113&vid=1&hid=105 The ATLA Religion Database (RDB) is accessed through EBSCOHost at the institutional level, but the online database itself is managed by the American Theological Library Association (ATLA), and updated quarterly. The RDB currently contains over 600,000 journal article records, and has 1746 journal title records, with 575 titles indexed. One can also find reviews for nearly 300,000 books, along with over 250,000 essays. Content in the RDB covers all areas related to the study of religion, including archaeology, church history, philosophy, ethics, and of

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF RESOURCES FOR CLERGY course, material related to the Bible, among other topic areas. ATLA also manages a database called ATLA Serials (ATLAS), which contains only journal articles and journal title records for 228 journal titles currently. Beyond the RDB, there is no other single portal to access the amount of material provided. While the incredible amount of material in the RDB is its greatest asset, it is also its biggest weakness. To help combat this, RDB includes searchable indexing in traditional areas (author, title, keyword, etc.) and includes a scripture citation index, which would allow a pastor preparing a sermon on a specific text to search for all material in RDB that mentions or deals with that particular passage. If one searches for Luke 12, for example, nearly 5,000 results are returned. EBSCOs facets, however, come into play and suggest certain passages and other topics that are related. The power of RDB also will come into play with the website called that links back to RDB for a large portion of its content. Pastors who have graduated from a seminary often have access to ATLASerials for free as an alumna/alumnus (ATLAS for Alums); ATLA provides a link to a list of seminaries that offer this. However,

for those that dont, EBSCO provides a yearly subscription to ATLAS for $150. There is no way for an individual to access the full power of RDB outside of an institutionally provided subscription, however. Woodard, J. (n.d.). The text this week. Retrieved from The text this week is specifically built for pastors preparing sermons, and is based on a common three-year cycle of readings called the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), used by churches with a liturgical (structured worship format) background, such as Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and others. The home page is always up-to-date for the upcoming Sunday, and for each Sunday, the author provides the list of RCL texts and then scores of links to

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF RESOURCES FOR CLERGY material including images and movies, commentaries, articles in ATLAS (as mentioned above), reflections, discussions, and blogs on the texts, other published sermons, prayers, full liturgy,

hymns and music, and more. Across the top of the site is a navigation bar that links to indices of scripture, movies, art, and a search box. This website is freely accessible to anyone, and the site now has apps for iPhone/iPad and Android devices. The author holds an accredited graduate degree from a seminary in the Methodist tradition, claims to spend 40-60 hours per week updating this site, and also has a blog on Huffington Post. In general, the wealth of information available online to pastors is collected here, filtered through the authors impression of that resources reliability and hindered by one person doing all the work. According to Alexa, the average visitor to is over the age of 45 and holds a graduate degree, which fits in nicely with the demographics explored in the previous assignment. There is an enormous amount of information available to clergy and anyone wishing to explore particular Bible passages. While the site is fast, the amount of text makes it difficult to use. There is little section differentiation; each page for a Sunday is a long, single column of links. Headings are bolded, but they are not much larger than the regular text and there is very little white space. For a pastor preparing a sermon, or perhaps even someone being called on to lead worship at the last minute, competitors like cant compare to the diversity of material offered here. Calvin College: Computer Science. (n.d.). Christian classics ethereal library. Retrieved from Christian Classics Ethereal Library is like Project Gutenberg for Christians. Collected here, and available for free, are most of the public domain classics of the Christian faith. Included are public domain translations of works by the Church Fathers, which is a major

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF RESOURCES FOR CLERGY trove of material for a pastor to read. A pastor could also find commentaries, treatises, apologies, dictionaries, full public domain (and some newer) texts of the Bible (e.g., the King James Version), hymn texts, and more. The home page features quick links to what it calls

Research, Study, Read, and Meditate (along with Give). Research takes the user to a page with a list of new updates, as well as a search box, a featured article, links to online discussion, and some ready-made answers to questions a pastor might receive. The Study link allows a user to read a text from the Bible and a commentary or other text alongside it in the same browser window. Read presents a page with suggested and popular readings, while Meditate brings up a reading for morning or evening reflection, read the Old Testament or New Testament in a year, and Psalm a day. The search function of CCEL is advanced; the advanced search page looks very similar to an advanced search page one would find in EBSCO. The help page for searching makes clear that this a customized and full-power search engine with full-text searching, supporting wild cards and stemming. There is also a subject cloud available, which presents key words in larger and larger text, as the word appears more frequently in the texts available here. While not part of the search engine, from the Browse menu, one can browse texts based on the texts LC subject heading(s). Texts are available in other languages than English; while English predominates, one can find text in Chinese, the major European languages, and Russian. The sites major weakness for sermon preparation is that it appears to lack the ability to read two different Bible versions side-by-side, or the feature is well hidden. CCEL offers up an app for iOS as well as some of their more popular books as a downloadable Kindle version. Other downloads available for a fee include collections of material, the New Testament read in

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF RESOURCES FOR CLERGY Greek, and a package offering up two recent versions of the Bible with selected commentaries that work on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Salem Communications Corporation. (n.d.). Retrieved from (BST) is similar to CCEL in conception; that is, it is an enormous library of material for Christians, except that this is built around the Bible instead of more theological and historical readings, as CCEL presents. BST offers up over 30 translations and versions of the Bible, along with commentaries, dictionaries, lexicons, encyclopedias, and parallel (noted as missing from CCEL) and interlinear Bibles, which present an English translation along with the Greek and Hebrew text of the same passage, if available. A nice

feature is that if it detects a first visit to the site via cookies when the user attempts to read the interlinear texts, an in-window pop up appears to make sure the user has the necessary Greek and Hebrew fonts to read the texts. Another powerful tool for sermon preparation heavily based on a Biblical text is the version comparison that will display one verse to the user in all the translations and versions available on a single-page. A glaring omission from this site is the lack of the NET translation, a relatively new translation that is freely available online and features thousands of translation notes built into the text. The issue of translation of a Biblical text is fiercely debated in modern times, and most Bible software available (such as Logos, Accordance, and Olive Tree) usually make this version available to users for free as well. As with most online Bible study resources, BST uses the King James Version by default, which is another contentious issue in the world of clergy and theology. Like CCEL, BSTs library of lexica, dictionaries, commentaries, and encyclopedias, is comprised of mostly public domain material, and consequently, a pastor relying on these tools

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF RESOURCES FOR CLERGY will miss at least the last 90 years of thinking and scholarship in theology, translation, and other

areas relevant to the task of preaching and teaching a text. That the amount of material available through BST is available completely for free cannot be ignored, as the issue of affording resources for study by clergy was mentioned repeatedly in the literature of the information needs of clergy. Shelton, S.J. (March 2013). Theological journals search. Retrieved from This resource is a sort of mash up search engine created with Google that searches for freely available and open access journal articles related to religion and theology. Currently, this search has access to over 350 journal titles, and will also let the user search for images indexed by Google that meet the search criteria. The information on this page about the search engine remarks that it is meant to be a supplement to, and not a replacement of, a tool like ATLA RDB as discussed above. For the cash-strapped pastor, or a pastor ordained outside an historical denomination who does not have alumni status with an institution offering ALTAS for Alums, this is a fairly powerful replacement. For pastors who might stridently support open access, this might also become a preferred search engine, as well. Searching for particular Bible passages brings up thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of results. The engine relies on Googles algorithms to rank results by relevance, which may or may not work well for religion. That it searches journals, and not just the web, is helpful to filter out material for a pastor. After performing a search, a user will see several links across the top that act as facets to help further refine the results, though the facets seem to be the same regardless of the type of search performed. Facets include things such as peer reviewed, Islam, Judaism, and pastoral and practical ministries. While the literature does not

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF RESOURCES FOR CLERGY mention scholarly journal articles as a heavy source of information for clergy preparing a sermon, this is another specialized tool available to clergy for free, and that can aid pastors in certain situations who may wish to search journals but who do not have access for one reason or

another. The creator mentions that the engine is updated regularly, and it is listed as having been updated on March 12, 2013. Association of Christian Librarians. (July 2012). Christian periodical index. Retrieved from Similar in intent to Theological Journals Search, this site offers a list of approximately 67 online journals that offer full-text access to at least some of their content. Perusing the listing, and using insider knowledge, it appears to lean towards the conservative side of theology, and many of the journals appear to be popular material rather than scholarly material. The official journal of the American Theological Library Association, which is open access, is included here as well. Popular material may be more adequate for sermon preparation needs, as parsing ancient Hebrew during the sermon may or may be effective for the pastor. The content is presented in simple HTML table form, and includes the journal name, the URL, and a column that lists what years of material is available and whether or not its available in PDF. There is an email address should links be found to be dead or the specified content available has changed, however the page has not been updated for eight months. It is helpful to present these links for pastors and other interested parties, however that the user has to click to each link, rather than being able to search across them, is a major hindrance to this sites usefulness to the pastor. While the content is free, another common part of the clergy experience with information is the lack of time. Having to click through to so many sites, even if they are bookmarked, adds extra works to the sermon preparation task. However, if a pastor finds several

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF RESOURCES FOR CLERGY journals here that are of value once or twice, perhaps this page has succeeded as a beginning for further study. Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning Religion. (2010). Internet guide to religion. Retrieved from The Wabash Center, created and sustained with funds from the Lilly Endowment, presents links to 23 online indexes of material related to teaching and learning religion, including several mentioned in this paper: RDB, Theological Journals Search, and Christian Periodicals Index. The advantage this site offers over these others is the ability to search within all of them from one search box. Perhaps it could be called a meta-index. The material is presented as a table, and each column is sortable, unlike Christian Periodicals Index. Each item they include is also classified by one of two types of resources: bibliography or web site. The search function can be limited to search more than that, however, as this search recognizes within each source whether material is a syllabus, an e-journal, an image, a bibliography, or a web site. The resources that have been collected here extend beyond immediate relevance to the sermon preparation task, such as the Internet Medieval Bibliography and Noesis: Philosophical Research On-Line [sic]. The page offers the ability to browse by subject heading, and the list of

available subject headings to browse is extensive. All of the major single sources of information are included here, making it ideal as a single point of entry to the resources for clergy on the internet. Lipton, S. and Adams, C. (March 2013). Christian resources. Religious studies web guide. Retrieved from

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF RESOURCES FOR CLERGY The Religious Studies Web Guide is a minimalistic web page that offers resources grouped into three major categories: resources arranged by format, resources arranged by religious groups/selected topics, and other useful web sites for the academic study of religion.


The last category may not have much use for the pastor preparing a weekly sermon; however, the page for Christian resources presents an enormous amount of links that are either general or relevant to specific denominations. Navigation is not easy, and many links have no information provided about them, but the amount of links to freely available material makes this site worthwhile. The site is maintained by a librarian at the University of Calgary and a librarian from the Library of Congress. Specific resources discoverable from this page include a directory of churches in the U.S. and Canada, links to church bodies, pages dedicated to famous theologians, and resources presented by other libraries for religious studies. Perhaps one of the more important links for the sermon preparation task to be found here is a link to an archive of material created by Billy Graham, a famous theologian and preacher. A pastor researching other denominations for a preaching or teaching task would do well to start here to find links relevant to that denomination in a single place. The site also provides a link to, which appears to present similar material that CCEL contains, however most of the site is organized as a bibliography of material related to doctrine and history rather than the text itself. Oxford reference religion. (n.d.). Retrieved from While preaching and preparing to preach often dominates a pastors time, teaching also takes up a large amount of time. Oxfords reference collection on religion is available online through OhioLink, though it can be accessed with content more limited through a public library



in Ohio, as well. The diverse material offered here is made up of material published by Oxford University Press. Oxford University Press selections include dictionaries or encyclopedias on Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. This would serve as an excellent starting place for a pastor researching an element outside of Christianity for teaching or preaching. There is also much material available within Christianity, including whole books dedicated to saints, popes, history, the Oxford Companion to the Bible, people and places of the Bible, and more. The vast majority of content is available as full-text through OhioLink. The main page for the religion section of Oxford Reference Online has a carousel display at the top that shows users various topics from various books that they can click on if in the mood to browse information. Users can also limit search results to those with images if they desire. Loading a particular book brings users to a page with information about the book, including the authors and the publication date, but then simply shows the user an a-to-z listing of the entries in the book. Each book is tagged with subjects that a user can click on in the left sidebar to access related content. The powerful feature for the time-starved pastor is the ability to search across the selection of reference material available here from a single search box. Center for Biblical Preaching. (n.d.). Retrieved from was developed from an initiative at Luther Seminary, in St. Paul, MN and its website is freely accessible via the internet. In many ways, is like a host of resources for the task of sermon preparation. The features that distinguishes it are multiple contributors and weekly podcasts by faculty of Luther Seminary dedicated to that weeks readings from the Revised Common Lectionary. The site also offers tips from professors and others who teach preaching on how to craft a sermon, and resources that

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF RESOURCES FOR CLERGY critique elements of popular culture or scholarly material related to preaching. also recognizes the alternative to the RCL, the Narrative Lectionary and offers support for pastors working in that framework. Each weeks readings receive treatment from a person ostensibly qualified to comment


on that reading, whether a scholar or pastor. The section on the craft of preaching offers several resources broken into working with texts, theology and preaching, sermon development, preaching and worship, and what they call preaching moments, which are short vlogs dedicated to preaching and the various roles of clergy. Most of the content on the whole site is presented in blog format, and is available via RSS subscription and licensed under a Creative Commons license that allows most of the sites content to be freely shared. While attempts to collate material from across the web for every lectionary week, attempts to generate material for every week of the lectionary. Petersen, D. L. and Gaventa, B.R. 2010. The new interpreters one volume commentary on the Bible. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press. This one-volume print book is the most recent attempt at a single volume commentary on the market, and it comes from the publishers of, and bears the same name as, one of the most respected and largest (12 volumes) commentaries on the Bible, the New Interpreters Bible. Considering the frequent mention of money as an issue by clergy, this one volume edition ($46 on, March 22, 2013) takes precedence over the multi-volume set ($665 on, March 22, 2013) for the pastors library. The one volume commentary is also available for Kindle and other e-readers. Each book of the Bible and Apocrypha is treated by a different scholar, with institutional affiliations running the gamut from liberal to conservative, small to large, and seminary to college; even a scholar from Hebrew University of Jerusalem



tackles a book. This book also contains brief essays on a variety of topics related to interpreting the Bible, such as cultures of the periods portrayed in the Bible and surrounding cultures, how to understand how Hebrew narrative and poetry works, and how to preach the Bible. Each book is treated with an introduction, followed by an outline, and then a commentary on the text broken down into pericopes, a technical term for definable story segments. The commentaries seem to tend towards the theological, rather than scientific; that is, issues such as how the Bible may have been assembled are present, but issues concerning the inter-relation of stories within books, testaments, and the Bible itself have taken precedence. For a pastor who needs to preach on a text with which she is unfamiliar, this would serve as a fine introduction for that purpose and could also make a strong single point of reference for most clergy to refresh their knowledge of a particular text. Illustrations such as anecdotes or popular stories to help get across a pastors message will not be found here, however, unlike some of the online sources such as Strong, J. 2010. The new Strongs expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. Strongs exhaustive concordance is the one concordance to rule them all. This recent expanded version takes it another step further. While Strongs original concordance work (published 1890) is available in the public domain and through sites like, the physical version is sometimes easier to use, despite its nearly 2000 pages. The book looks like a dictionary, with every word in the Bible appearing as an entry, except instead of a definition, one finds every verse in the Bible in which that particular word appears according to the King James Version. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this work, and the most powerful tool, is that each instance of a word is also tagged with a number that identifies which Hebrew or Greek



word underlies that translation. For good measure, Strongs Hebrew and Greek dictionaries are tacked on at the end of this volume, so that one can look up a particular word and find out the underlying Hebrew or Greek word without having any knowledge of, or having to refer to a text in, Hebrew or Greek. The Hebrew and Greek dictionaries in the back also explain which words are derived from other words, and include a link to that word in order to increase the ability of a pastor to find all the possible connections to that word contained within the Biblical text. Strongs public domain version is available on all the major Bible websites, such as BST. While these tools enhance the power of the print version of the text, and include hyperlinks to newer dictionaries and word books, this version of Strongs is nearly as instantaneous as using it online in my brief amount of time spent using this particular edition. In many ways, it felt similar to the Wikipedia effect finding one word, and then going off on an unrelated tangent due to the linked nature of the Biblical text, albeit in analog form. In this way, the user may see connections that may have previously been hidden to them, allowing for creativity in the sermon. While this particular version has been updated since the original in many ways, it is still an index to words as translated by the King James Version, which while still wildly popular has been potentially superseded in some cases by finds like the Dead Sea Scrolls and texts in related languages discovered since the 17th century. Since pastors tend to be older, the power of Strongs in this volume cannot be overestimated as a starting point to tracing word usage and thematic elements throughout the Bible, since older clergy may not be comfortable with some of the complex online tools available. The ability to see behind the English text to the original languages and understand how many Greek and Hebrew words are derived words from verbal roots for someone not well versed in the language could also be incredibly helpful. Finally, some Hebrew and Greek words are translated in different ways at different spots, which the

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF RESOURCES FOR CLERGY English text will not reveal, but looking at the dictionaries in the back will help the user link to and find connections in the Bible they would not have found through an English translation alone.