Bible Backgrounds Research Guide
Here are library resources of particular use to students needing information on the ancient world of the Bible.
Use the Master’s College Library Web site to access the library’s online catalog and the many online databases the library has to offer. Peruse the library’s Web site for a description of the library’s collection, information on how to do research, library services, hours, personnel, links to other libraries’ catalogs and links to other recommended scholarly Web Resources.
Dewey Decimal Classification Numbers (DDC)
The TMC library’s collection is arranged according to the Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC) with a few exceptions. An outline of the whole DDC can be found at Summaries: DDC. The following are the more common Dewey numbers used for bible backgrounds research
Bible as a whole:
220.9 Geography, history, chronology, persons of Bible lands in Bible times
220.92 Collected persons (individual persons can be found with the part of the Bible in which the person is chiefly considered e.g., Abraham 222.11092)
220.93 Biblical Archaeology
220.931 Manners & Customs of the Biblical world
220.95 History of Biblical events
221.9 Geography, history, chronology, persons of Old Testament lands in Old Testament times
221.93 Archaeology (Material remains)
225.9 Geography, history, chronology, persons of New Testament lands in New Testament times
225.95 New Testament background
229 Apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, intertestamental works
930 History of the Ancient World to ca 499
936 Europe north and west of
937.06 Period of
939 Other parts of the Ancient World to ca. 640
Library of Congress Classification Numbers (LC)
The Master’s Seminary Library and many other libraries around the world use the Library of Congress Classification System (LC). For an outline of the entire LC System go to the Library of Congress Classification Outline. The following are the more common LC numbers used for bible backgrounds research
BS 410-780 Works about the Bible
BS701-1830 Old Testament
BS1901-2970 New Testament
CB History of civilization
CC Archaeology (General)
D 51-95 Ancient history
DF 10-289 Ancient
DS 1-326 Ancient Near
The library’s online catalog is the index to all the resources the library provides. This is a good place to start looking for information related to the field of Biblical Studies. The following are suggestions for getting started with research in this field. This explanation will make more sense if you open another browser to the library’s catalog and follow along as you go. For detailed information use the research guide “Help Using the Library’s Online Catalog”
Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)
Search the library catalog for appropriate LC Subject Headings (not to be confused with the LC Classification System) to use in your research. From the main page of the library catalog select the Basic Search screen and type in a broad subject term in the free text field, and then select the [Subject Browse] field. When you receive your hit list, be sure to click on any [Info] and [Note/Ref] links as they will lead you to important information about the subject heading and additional related terminology!
Take note also, [Bible backgrounds] is NOT an LC subject heading use Bible History of Biblical events instead. Try these also for starters:
Bible antiquities (use this instead of bible archaeology; also use the subdivision [antiquities] under the names of biblical countries and cities e.g.
Bible history of biblical events
Judaism history post-exilic period
Jews history to 70 a.d.
Note: “n.t.” and “o.t.” may be inserted after “Bible” and before the rest of the heading as needed e.g., bible n.t. history of biblical events; bible o.t. history of biblical events, bible n.t. antiquities, bible o.t. geography.
Tip: The online catalog is not case sensitive so it is not necessary to capitalize search terms but doing so will not affect the search. You can even leave out the periods between n.t. and o.t. however you must keep the space where the periods belong (e.g. bible n t geography).
Subject Search Techniques: Reference
The reference collection is one of the first places to start doing bibliographic research because the resources there will provide background information on the topic, a ready made outline, expert authors in the field and contextual parameters of a topic. To find appropriate reference books use the Search Limits feature in the online catalog, set the Location: to Reference then from the Advanced Search screen use the appropriate term as a Keyword or use the LC Subject Headings indicated above. When applying Limits do not search using the Basic Search screen as the limits function will not apply.
TIP: To get a list of the significant Reference works that will be very useful for research in Bible Backgrounds, go to the Advanced Search screen, set the limits to Reference, search the term “ancient”[ in Keyword anywhere.] Not all of the records in the hit list are applicable but the vast majority of them will prove to be extremely valuable!
To find materials in the main collection use the same search strategy used to find reference books but without setting the [Limits] option to [Reference]. For example type an appropriate search term(s) in the [Search for:] free text field, select the most suitable Boolean operation ([any of these], [all of these], [as a phrase]) and then select an applicable field from the [Search in:] drop down menu.
TIP: Use Sources to Find Other Sources -- when relevant records are identified search the Call Numbers and Subject Headings found with those records to identify additional related resources. Also, scroll through the hit list and identify the most commonly used Dewey Classification numbers and then browse the shelves in those areas.
Some Useful Resources
¯ Ancient Near Eastern Texts relating to the Old Testament (ANET) (221.93 An22p)
¯ Ancient Near East in Pictures relating to the Old Testament (ANEP) (221.93 P939a)
¯ Land of the bible: a historical geography / Aharoni (221.91 Ah15L 1967)
¯ Works by James Bennett Pritchard; Yohanan Aharoni, Michael Avi-Yonah; Anson Rainey; Ze’ev Safrai
¯ Carta Bible Atlas, 4th ed. (220.91 Ah15c 2002) (formerly The Macmillan Bible Atlas) (220.91 Ah15m 1968)
¯ The Moody Atlas of Bible Lands (220.91 B397m 1985)
¯ Netanyahu, B. (Benzion) / The World history of the Jewish people. (R 956.93 W893j)
¯ SBL Handbook of Style chapter 8.3 for lists of primary resources
¯ For Abbreviations see SBL Handbook of Style chapter 8.4
¯ For quality Web sites see Dr. Behle’s and Todd Bolen’s Web sites on MasterNet
¯ The Master’s Seminary Library - http://www.tms.edu/libsplash.asp
Magazines, Journals, Newspapers
For all periodical titles available through the TMC library go to library Web site and select Periodical Holdings from the menu on the left. From this page you can find periodicals by title or by subject. The periodical holdings list indicates which periodical titles are held by the library as well as inclusive dates and format availability -- microform, print, electronic.
Periodical Indexes are used to identify the location of articles contained in magazines, journals and newspapers. These indexes provide citations to the articles (author, title of the article, journal title, volume, issue, date, and page numbers). Some indexes also provide abstracts (includes a summary of the article) and many online indexing tools provide the full-text (FT) of the article (e.g. the complete text of the article).
To access the indexes available to the TMC community go to library Web site and select Library Databases/Indexes.
Several of the indexes you will find there have the added benefit of the Journal Linker service. Journal Linker enables you to link from the citation in the online index to the library’s periodical holdings information of full-text and print journals. Then from there, you may link directly to the online journal, the online article or to the print holdings record in the Library Catalog. In the event the TMC library does not have the journal in question, Journal Linker also provides a link to our Interlibrary Loan Service (
TIP: The Periodical Holdings List and Journal Linker are especially useful when attempting to determine whether or not the library has a particular journal either in print or electronic formats. For those indexing databases where Journal Linker does not apply, keep two browsers open: one for searching the online index and one with the Periodical Holdings page open for quickly checking to see if TMC has the journal containing the article. If TMC does not have the article, it may be ordered through ILL.
Periodical Indexes and other Online Databases
Of particular use to students researching Bible Backgrounds
Religious Periodical Indexes
ATLA (1949+) The American Theological Library Association database includes Religion Index One (RIO) which indexes several thousand religious magazines and journals, Religion Index Two (RIT) which indexes multi-author works and Index to Book
TIP: To limit your search to
Christian Periodical Index (CPI) (1956+) CPI provides citation indexing to English language articles and reviews written from an evangelical perspective. Coverage is representative of the major doctrinal positions within evangelical Christianity.
Guide to Social Science & Religion (GSSR) indexes several hundred journals in the areas of religion and the social sciences.
Religious &Theological Abstracts (R&TA) provides objective summaries of articles appearing in scholarly journals in the fields of Religion and Theology.
New Testament Abstracts (NTA) -- Abstracts controversial articles from a variety of journals in higher criticism concentrating on major theological reflections of a particular theme and exegesis of particular New Testament passages. This abstracting tool is especially useful for the latest scholastic developments relating to the linguistic basis of exegesis.
Old Testament Abstracts (OTA) -- Abstracts controversial articles from a variety of journals in higher criticism concentrating on major theological reflections of a particular theme and exegesis of a particular Ole Testament passages. This abstracting tool is especially useful for the latest scholastic developments relating to the linguistic basis of exegesis.
Secular Periodical Indexes
AHSearch (FirstSearch) (1980+) -- Arts & Humanities Citation Index provides citations and abstracts to the world's leading arts and humanities journals with select articles in the social sciences and sciences
Historical Abstracts provides indexing and abstracting coverage of the world from 1450 to the present (excluding the
NOTE: This database utilizes the “Journal Linker" program However, TMC does not have access to the full-text links provided by JSTOR, Project Muse, Ingenta, SwetsWise, Taylor & Francis or Oxford University Press.
GeoBase (FirstSearch) (1980+) -- GeoBase indexes worldwide literature on geography, geology, and ecology covering journals, books, monographs, conference proceedings and reports.
Other Online Databases of Note
These tools index a variety of documents and may also include periodical literature.
ERIC (FirstSearch) (1966+) - Journal articles and reports in education.
Essay & General Literature (FirstSearch) (1985+) -- Find contents in collected works focusing on humanities and social sciences. This database cites essays and articles contained in collections of essays and other works published in the
PapersFirst (1993+) -- An OCLC index of papers presented at conferences worldwide. Covers every published congress, symposium, conference, exposition, workshop and meeting received by The British Library Document Supply Centre.
Proceedings (1993+) -- An OCLC index of worldwide conference proceedings. Covers every published congress, symposium, conference, exposition, workshop and meeting received by The British Library Document Supply Centre. Also contains in each record a list of the papers presented at each conference.
TREN http://www.tren.com/ -- The Theological Research Exchange Network is a library of over 10,000 theological thesis/dissertation titles representing research from as many as 70 different institutions. TREN also makes available conference papers presented at annual meetings of several academic societies. Print titles may be ordered online. By special arrangement TMC/S students may purchase E-docs for $1.00. Instructions for downloading TREN e-docs.
Proquest Dissertations -- Doctoral dissertations and master's theses from 1861 to the present. More than 2 million entries with more than 600,000 available in native or image PDF formats for immediate free download.
WorldCat (FirstSearch) – OCLC is a catalog of books and other materials in libraries worldwide. A simpler version of this database is now available as a public Web site at www.worldcat.org.
Additional Research Guides
Biblical Studies – unique strategies useful for research in this field
Theology – unique strategies useful for research in this field
Basic Steps in Library Research – six simple steps explaining the research process
From Cite to Hand - Books – how to actually obtain books and other materials whether or not the library owns them
From Cite to Hand - Articles – how to actually obtain magazine and journal articles whether or not the library owns them
Finding Articles in Two, sometimes Three, OK maybe Four Easy Steps
Identifying Scholarly Books – clues for distinguishing scholarly books and journals
Identifying Scholarly Periodicals- clues for distinguishing between magazines, journals and peer reviewed journals
Evaluating Resources – easy way to help evaluate the usefulness of research resources both paper and electronic
Research Worksheet – designed to make research simpler by working step by step through the research process
Copyright for Higher Education– help in understanding the copyright law as it pertains to faculty and students
© Janet Tillman/The Master’s College, 2006, permission is granted for non-profit educational use; any reproduction or modification should include this statement.
Last updated September, 2006.