Religious Sources and Publishers

last modified 2019-07-15T17:10:22-04:00

Religion, just like other disciplines, includes different types of sources.  The purpose of this guide is to provide a few tips, including information on publishers.  

Scholarly journals

  • have a serious "look" with charts, graphs, few glossy pictures--black and white
  • written by an established expert, scholar, or researcher in the field whose credentials and institutional affiliation are listed
  • reviewed by a panel of experts (peers)
  • use the terminology and language of the specific field
  • provides an in depth analysis on a specific subject
  • contents usually include an abstract, literature review, methods, results, conclusion, footnotes, and a bibliography
  • generally published by a professional organization or scholarly press

Specific examples might include:

Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
Journal of Religion
Journal of Religious Ethics
Journal of the American Academy of Religion
Theology and Sexuality

Catholic Biblical Quarterly
Journal of Biblical Literature
Review & Expositor

Popular magazines

  • often slick and glossy, heavily illustrated with photographs--colorful
  • usually shorter articles written by staff or free-lance writers whose credentials may or may not be included
  • reviewed by the magazine editor
  • usually written in simply language with little depth--no subject expertise assumed
  • provides an general overview on a variety of topics
  • rarely include footnotes or bibliographies
  • published for profit

Specific examples might include:

Christian Century


Publishers of books in religious studies typically fall into one of four categories.

1. affiliated with specific Christian denominations
2. affiliated with colleges and universities
3. textbook publishers
4. independent

Below is a list of some of the more significant publishing houses and where they fit:

1. affiliated with specific Christian denominations:


  • Broadman Press—Southern Baptist Convention
  • Convention Press—Southern Baptist Convention (more popular)
  • Judson Press—American Baptist
  • Smyth and Helwys (primarily CBF, more popular than scholarly)


  • Baker Books
  • Brazos Press
  • Intervarsity Press
  • Zondervan

Mainstream Protestant:

  • Abingdon—United Methodist Church
  • Augsburg Fortress—Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Chalice Press—Disciples of Christ
  • Cowley—Episcopalian
  • William B. Eerdmans—Reformed Church in America roots
  • Pilgrim Press—United Church of Christ
  • SCM Press (and its various imprints)--Episcopalian
  • Westminster John Knox—Presbyterian Church USA


  • Herald Press

Roman Catholic:

  • Orbis Books—Maryknoll, concern for poor
  • Paulist Press—dialog with modern world

 2. affiliated with colleges and universities:

  • Chicago
  • Duke
  • Indiana
  • Mercer
  • Notre Dame
  • Yale

 3. textbook publishers:

  • McGraw Hill
  • Prentice-Hall
  • Wadsworth

 4. independent:

  • Continuum (T & T Clark, Trinity Press)
  • Harper & Row, HarperCollins
  • HarperSanFrancisco
  • Hendrickson
  • Open Court
  • Rowan and Littlefield
  • Wipf and Stock 

Doctrinal or Denomination-Specific Sources (both scholarly and popular)

1. targeted toward a specific audience

  • Baptist History and Heritage--Baptist perspective
  • Christian Century--opinion and news from the moderate to liberal Protestant
  • Christianity Today--conservative, evangelical perspective
  • Commonweal--Catholic perspective

2. have a wider appeal and usefulness beyond their denomination

  • Catholic Biblical Quarterly--one of the premiere resources for biblical studies

3. are often influenced by the sponsor/publisher

  • remember to discover the "who" behind the what

Almost all publishers maintain an active web presence. These are compilations of publishers.

Web Resources

The Internet can be a great place to accomplish research on many topics. As the reader, you must remember that putting documents or pages on the web is:

  • easy
  • cheap or free
  • unregulated
  • unmonitored (at least in the USA)

You must establish the validity, authorship, timeliness, and integrity of what you find.

Key Questions to Ask

1. Authority: Who's behind the site?

  • who serves as the author/editor, and are their credentials listed?
  • do they appear qualified based on the listed credentials?
  • are there logos or links to more information on the sponsor, author, or publisher?
  • check the domain name .org (non-profit), .edu (educational), .gov (government), .com (commercial)

2. Audience: Who's targeted as potential readers?

  • is the site created for a general audience or a scholarly audience?
  • is the site too elementary, too technical, or too advanced?
  • is the site an overview of your topic, or does it provide specific, detail information?

3. Content: How does it look?

  • is the site relatively free of spelling and grammatical errors?
  • can the information presented be verified in another source?
  • does the site include a bibliography or reference list?
  • is there an obvious bias?
  • is anything glaringly omitted?

4. Timely: How old is it?

  • when was the site produced?
  • when was the last time the site was updated?
  • is your topic one that needs current information, or is historical information sufficient?

5. Objectivity: Why does the site exist?

  • why did the author/sponsor create the site?
  • is the site sponsored by someone?
  • are links to other, even opposing, viewpoints listed?
  • is the site possible an ironic site ... satire ... or a parody?

6. Access and Design: How easy is it to use?

  • is the site organization clear on the first screen?
  • are there any advertisements or other distractions?
  • is the site easy to navigate?

7. What's the bottom line: Should I?

  • do you feel comfortable citing this page in a scholarly research paper?

If in doubt, ask for help--looks are deceiving


  • You can also use Google to find additional information--look for a tab/header "about" the journal. As an example, here's the link for Baptist History & Heritage.