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A Guide to Religious Studies

Reference Works - A Place to Begin

Judaism -- Encyclopedias

Fred Skolnik & Michael Berenbaum, eds. Encyclopaedia Judaica 2nd ed. (Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA/Keter Publishing, 2007) -  an exhaustive and organized 22-volume overview of Jewish life and knowledge from the Second Temple period to the contemporary State of Israel, from Rabbinic to modern Yiddish literature, from Kabbalah to "Americana" and from Zionism to the contribution of Jews to world cultures. 

Eisenberg, Ronald L. The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions 1st ed. (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2004) - a comprehensive and authoritative resource with ready answers to questions about almost all aspects of Jewish life and practice: life-cycle events, holidays, ritual and prayer, Jewish traditions and customs, and more. Ronald Eisenberg has distilled an immense amount of material from classic and contemporary sources into a single volume, which provides thousands of insights into the origins, history, and current interpretations of a wealth of Jewish traditions and customs. Divided into four sections—Synagogue and Prayers, Sabbaths (p125-54) and Festivals, Life-Cycle Events, and Miscellaneous (a large section that includes such diverse topics as Jewish literature, food, and plants and animals)—this is an encyclopedic reference for anyone who wants easily accessible, accurate information about all things Jewish. Eisenberg writes for a wide, diversified audience, and is respectful of the range of practices and beliefs within today's American Jewish community—from Orthodox to liberal.

Catholicism -- Encyclopedias

New Catholic Encyclopedia 2nd ed. (Detroit, MI: Gale, 2003) - this 15 volume, second edition features revised and new articles. Among the 12,000 entries in the encyclopedia are articles on theology, philosophy, history, literary figures, saints, musicians and much more.

North American Christian Denominations

Charles H. Lippy & Peter W. Williams, eds. Encyclopedia of Religion in America (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2010) -  authoritative reference work explains the origins, development, adaptation, influence, and interrelations of the many faiths practiced, including major world religions, new religious sects, cults, and religious movements that originated or had an influence in the United States. Edited by well-known experts in the field, the Encyclopedia covers all the significant religious denominations and movements that have originated or flourished in North America, from the beginning of European settlement to the present day. The broad multidisciplinary coverage includes the religious life of indigenous peoples, specific aspects of religious life, and the relationship of political, social, economic, and cultural spheres. It reflects new scholarly research and interpretation that have emerged over the last two decades, as well as significant new areas of study, such as post-9/11 America, the role of gays and lesbians in church, gender, and the role of the evangelicals in American political life.

Melton, J. Gordon. Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions 8th ed. (Detroit: Gale Cengage Learning, 2009) - covers numerous North American religious groups in the U.S. and Canada. Includes essays and directory listings describing the historical development of religious families and providing factual information about each group within those families. Provides, when available, rubrics for membership figures, educational facilities and periodicals.

Book Reviews

Book Review Index - a comprehensive online guide to book reviews with over five million review citations from thousands of publications.

Academic Journal Article Databases

Subject-Specific Databases


American Theological Library Association's (ATLA) Religion (EBSCO) - journal, essay, and book review index. Contains thousands of citations from international titles and multi-author works in the field of religion. Other collections within the EBSCO suite include SocINDEX with Full Text and others. 

Political Science

Political Science Database (ProQuest) - full-text of 430 political science and international relations journals, many of which are indexed in Worldwide Political Science Abstracts. Covers the literature of political science and international relations, including such topics as comparative politics, political economy, international development, environmental policy, and hundreds of related topics. Other social science databases within the ProQuest suite include: Social Science Database; Public Affairs Information Service (PAIS); Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts (ASSIA); International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, et. al.


HeinOnline - more than 900 searchable full-text law journals and many legal resources, including the Code of Federal Regulations, United States Code, and U.S. Statutes at Large. 

Nexis Uni - contains more than 15,000 news, legal and business sources, including journals, television and radio broadcasts, newswires and blogs; local, regional, national and international newspapers with deep archives; extensive legal sources for federal and state cases and statutes, including U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 1790.


PhilPapers is a comprehensive index and bibliography of philosophy maintained by the community of philosophers. They monitor all sources of research content in philosophy, including journals, books, open access archives, and personal pages maintained by academics. We also host the largest open access archive in philosophy. Their index currently contains 2,713,240 entries categorized in 5,845 categories. PhilPapers has over 310,000 registered users.

Multidisciplinary Databases

JSTOR - a digital library containing digitized archival and current issues of academic journals, eBooks, and other primary sources in the humanities and social sciences. It provides full-text searches of almost 2,000 journals.

Google Scholar - the world's largest, freely accessible web search engine that indexes the full text or metadata of peer-reviewed online academic journals and books, conference papers, theses and dissertations, preprints, abstracts, technical reports, and other scholarly literature, including court opinions and patents across an array of publishing formats and disciplines.