Resource Portal for Entry-level Studies in Early Christianity

Interest in early Christianity has grown tremendously over the past decade and a half, but finding the right information can be difficult for those just beginning in the field. Below, a handful of different types of resources are listed as suggested entry points. I have designed this guide for students at the University of Kentucky and tried to restrict listed resources to those students may access. Students with access to a theological library will find many additional resources there. [Read more…]


Comparing Databases: A Brief Look at Academic Search Complete and Periodical Archive Online


When searching for online access to information, options and sources seem to be endless. Even limiting searches to subscription databases leaves one with many different choices. Content may overlap between database providers and even between databases from the same provider. Choices must be made based on who provides the necessary content and how easy that content is to navigate. Below, two different database providers as well as one of their databases will be compared as an example of criteria to consider: EBSCOhost and ProQuest. [Read more…]

New Testament Commentary Survey, 7th ed. — Review

Carson, D. A. New Testament Commentary Survey. 7th ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013. 176pp + xvi.

Carson’s New Testament Commentary Survey continues to be a popular bibliographic resource among a rather niche community in the biblical studies world. Carson serves at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL) as professor of New Testament and is a widely-respected biblical studies scholar. While Carson’s work is not alone in this market, many have grown to trust his judgments and appreciate his concise and terse annotations.

Carson’s Commentary Survey provides readers with his own ranking and assessment of modern commentaries. Bibliographic information and annotations fall into three sections in the book: commentary series or single volumes, New Testament surveys and theologies, and commentaries on individual books of the Bible. The first two sections are arranged alphabetically by series or work title; the last section is arranged by canonical order of the biblical books with each relevant commentary generally mentioned in descending order of recommendation. Only partial bibliographic information is provided for each work (typically missing the publisher and city), though each reference contains enough information to track down the work. Annotations vary from several sentences down to 1–2 (or less) sentences per work with most falling on the shorter end of the spectrum. The text is arranged into paragraphs, often with multiple works listed in a single paragraph. Italicized author names help distinguish the entries. Carson’s “Best Buys” (p. 167–68) are listed in a table toward the end of the book, for those looking for quick commentary suggestions, and an index of authors’ names helps readers work backward from specific commentary to Carson’s comments.

Summary: Carson’s Commentary Survey provides helpful bibliographic direction from an evangelical perspective. It is ideally suited to pastors and students relatively new to biblical studies, but may be profitable and even enjoyable to read for the seasoned scholar. The reference nature of the work and its relatively low cost (around $11 on make it a helpful resource for most libraries. Recommended.

Evernote for Academics: 6 Notes to Help Manage Library Research

Evernote has become a favorite tool for composing class and seminar notes, reading notes, paper ideas and the like. I’ve also found it to be a great place to organize and manage research.

Below are six “notes” I’ve started creating and keeping for each large research project. Each heading below represents a note title in Evernote. Following each, I’ll also provide short descriptions for my typical note content. When working on multiple projects, I add an underscore and a shortened form of the project name to each of these note titles (ex: “Research Log _ Erasmus”). This prevents new projects from [Read more…]

The Fast Way to Remember Which Books You Own While Away From Home (Evernote)

Organize Library EvernoteOne difficulty that comes from owning a large and growing personal library is remembering what you own. Typically I buy most of my books online from the comfort of my desk. I can easily determine if I already own a book by either looking at the shelves or checking Zotero. Other times though, I will see several new titles added to the ‘bargain’ wall at the bookstore and not remember if I already own them (not often, but it does happen).

Those who use Evernote can fix this problem in a matter of minutes. A few days ago, author and blogger  Jamie Todd Rubin shared how he created “a digital version of [his] bookshelves in Evernote”. He writes,

I know there are database systems out there for keeping track of books, and I’ve tried many of them but they are too time consuming for me. It occurred to me that, thanks to Evernote’s ability to identify text in images and allow you to search that text, an “image library” of my books might be just the trick.

Rubin takes pictures of his bookshelves and adds them to Evernote. Evernote’s OCR identifies the titles from the spines of the books (yes, even when they are vertical!) and allows you to instantly search your library for a given title. Wow! While I am one of those ‘database users’, this is a quick and simple way to keep track of titles away from home. At the bookstore? Just open Evernote on your smartphone and search the title. Evernote will show you the shelf picture with the title highlighted in yellow.

This would not be my primary organizational method, but for on-the-go purposes it is hard to beat. Check out his full post to see several images of what this looks like and his step-by-step process (he uses this as a master organizational tool).

Quick Thoughts on Zotero 4

Zotero 4The recent release of Zotero 4 has brought both bug fixes and additional features. The brief announcement lists a few of the bigger features:

  • Tag colors
  • On-demand download support
  • Relative path support for linked files
  • Automatic style updating for all installed styles
  • Automatic journal abbreviation support
  • Firefox 20 compatibility (Zotero for Firefox)
  • …plus much more.

A full list of the changes and bug fixes can be found here.

In an earlier post, I discussed in depth how I organize and use Zotero. Here I will merely highlight and comment upon a few new features in Zotero 4.

Zotero 4 color tags

Zotero 4 color and newline-separated tags

1. Ability to use color tags (up to 6 colors). Right-click the tag (from the tag selector in the lower left corner) to add or remove a color. I’m not using the colors on normal tags, but I create ‘ranking’ tags. Since the colors also appear in the center pane next to the work’s title, I can use colors to distinguish visually between works of various importance for a paper. (See image.)

2. Styles are now updated automatically.

3. Blue dots indicate attachments. Now I can quickly tell if I have a PDF of the work. The arrow only indicates child notes, and the attachments column in Zotero 3 could only tell the number of child notes attached (not all that helpful for me).

4. The middle pane no longer scrolls around when updating an item (bug fix).

5. Multiple newline-separated features. If you were wondering what this was, you can now paste tags from multiple lines of text into a tag box and create multiple tags at once (each desired tag is on a separate line in a document). The same can be done for creators (they must be ‘last, first’ format and pasted into the ‘last’ field). Holding ‘shift’ while hitting ‘return’ in a tag will also allow multiple tags to be created at once (only hold ‘shift’ for the first ‘return’). See the above image for a picture of this. This feature could be nice, but it does not autofill like a single tag does. Hitting return after adding a single tag already opens a box for another tag. So it is faster for me to add them individually. However, where this feature is very nice is in the ‘creator’ field. Holding ‘shift’ and hitting ‘return’ after entering a creator now adds and opens another ‘creator’ field (like adding single tags and hitting ‘return’). This is very welcome. Recently I’ve added a number of items manually that had an author (section of book) and three editors. Clicking the plus sign was getting old.

There are a number of other good features that have been added. These simply stood out for my uses. What new features have been the biggest helps for you? I welcome questions and comments about my use of Zotero.

Getting Organized with Zotero

Zotero 4For those of us in the academic world, it can be difficult to keep track of and organize our resources and information. Books and papers are quickly consumed, and information once thought important can become lost in files (or piles)—forgotten. Often we find somewhat hidden chapters on various topics tucked inside books whose titles do not betray their contents. Remembering those great hidden chapters or what we’ve found valuable is not always easy. Keeping track of what we own is not always easy. So how can all of these resources be organized to minimize our overlooking these many gems we’ve found over the years? Enter Zotero.

From the Zotero homepage:

Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. It lives right where you do your work—in the web browser itself.

Many reading this post are probably already using Zotero to manage citations in research papers. Zotero does this very well, and Zotero’s documentation includes a helpful collection of video tutorials. This post will not cover the same material.

Zotero can be used to organize references, resources, and even a personal library—more than simple citation management. Below is what I have found to be the best use of tags, folders, notes and [Read more…]

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