Engaging the Text (Wilson, Spring 2016)

by Theresa Rhodes last modified 2016-08-08T09:09:27-04:00

This page focuses on your assignment to experience the critical tasks of biblical study as a solitary scholar and as a member of a community of scholarship.  A mix of broad biblical resources (dictionaries, commentaries, and books) as well as articles focused on your specific Old Testament passage will be used by your study group to complete a group report.

Bible dictionaries

Bible dictionaries include more than just words but also broad articles that provide information about history, customs, institutions, and beliefs.  They will include entries for your book (Joshua, Samuel, Kings, and Ezekiel) that contain your passages.  They also contain articles on people (Joshua, Rahab, Ezekiel, Samuel, Eli, Solomon), places (Jericho, Jordan River), and practices (Passover, succession, commissioning) that might be relevant to your passages.  You choose a Bible dictionary rather than a general dictionary or encyclopedia to make sure that you are using the appropriate historical context or definition as it was used when your passage was written. You can expect to find longer entries in multi-volume works and shorter entries in one-volume works.  Remember to look at the end of entries for recommendations for other words--often called see or see also references.  

The following sources have been approved by Dr. Wilson and are located in the Reference collection on the main (second) floor of Tarver Library.  They must be used in the building.

Scholarly commentaries

Biblical commentaries are a specialized type of source that often include the actual passage as well as scholarly commentary.   Scholarly commentaries can answer questions about the history of the text, who the audience was (as implied by the text), what social or institutional setting might have been in place, and general background information on the book as well as specific verses. Because there are so many commentaries, Dr. Wilson has carefully selected specific commentaries for you to use.  Remember to read introductions, overviews, and commentary sections as well as your specific passages.  As with the dictionaries, you can expect to find longer entries in multi-volume works and shorter entries in one-volume works.  Commentaries in the circulating collection are described in the next section on finding books.

The New Interpreter's Bible includes the actual scripture passage as well as extensive introductory, overview, and commentary sections.  This is an important resource that should not be overlooked.  Specific page references for your passages include:

Joshua 1-4

Volume 2 (II)
Introduction:  pp. 555-582
Commentary:  pp. 583-608 (Note:  this source covers through Joshua 5:12 for your passage)

1 Samuel 1-3

Volume 2 (II)
Introduction:  pp. 949-993 (Note: this is for I and II Samuel)
Commentary:  pp. 969-993 (Note:  this source covers through 1 Samuel 4:1a)

1 Kings 1-3

Volume 3 (III)
Introduction:  pp. 3-12
Commentary:  pp. 13-48

Ezekiel 1-3

Volume 6 (VI)
Introduction:  pp. 1075-1107
Commentary:  pp. 1109-1139

Books

Mercer University Libraries and GALILEO licensed a discovery service that allows you to search many of our databases simultaneously. You are now able to search the library's physical holdings (Books, DVDs, etc.) and our licensed content (journal articles, indexes, etc.) at the same time!  A Discovery search is not recommended for this assignment, since a basic search retrieves over 80,000 results!  This section provides directions for a focused search of the library's catalog to find printed books on your passage.  Discovery is a great tool, but it is not the most effective or efficient place to start for this assignment.

  • Select catalog search from the search box on the main page (libraries.mercer.edu)
  • This opens a new window (if you didn't get a  new window, go back and make sure you select catalog search and not catalog only

  • Switch to a subject search (default is keyword) and enter the following search string depending on your passage
    • bible joshua commentaries
    • bible samuel commentaries (Note:  almost all of the books cover 1st and 2nd Samuel)
    • bible kings commentaries (Note:  liming to bible kings 1st commentaries retrieves only 9 results, so the broader search of bible kings commentaries is recommended)
    • bible ezekiel commentaries



  •  Results will be from all locations (Atlanta, Macon, Douglas County, Henry County, and e-books) and include items that can be checked out (status is available) and reference (status is library use only).



  • This screen shot shows using the drop-down menu to limit results to items only available at the Tarver Library in Macon.  Remember, you can use the request link to have non-Reference titles sent here for you to use. 



  • Selecting the map link provides directions to the shelf where the specific title can be located.

  •  This guide provides a good reminder on locating items in the catalog.
Electronic Resources

As mentioned earlier, Mercer University Libraries and GALILEO licensed a discovery service that allows you to search many of our databases simultaneously. You are now able to search the library's physical holdings (Books, DVDs, etc.) and our licensed content (journal articles, indexes, etc.) at the same time!  Although the database we want to search (ATLA) is included in Discovery, the discipline-specific search option is not available in Discovery.  We want to go directly to ATLA instead. 

ATLA

If you aren't a Christianity major or minor, you might not be familiar with ATLA.  This database will become very important as you look for books and articles in the field of religious studies.  Produced by the American Theological Library Association, this database provides links to journal articles, book reviews, and collections of essays in all fields of religion. Full-text is provided for more than 266,000 electronic articles and book reviews. Begun in 1949, indexing for some journal titles extends back into the nineteenth century.

Reminders
  • This is going to take time, so take full advantage of the group dates.
  • Let Theresa Rhodes, Christianity Subject Librarian know if you would like her to be available on one (or more) of your group dates.
  • Read the text, read the text, read the text ... familiarity can bring understanding.
  • Look up familiar words or phrases to make sure you are capturing the sense of the term in context.
  • Please don't re-shelve (or hide!) the sources. 
    • There are a lot of Christianity students using many of the same resources.
    • Theresa will monitor the area and try to keep the items in order on the reference shelves.
  • Jack Tarver Library also offers assistance, including: