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REL 3715: Biblical Interpretation: Instructions on Searching ATLA Religion Database

Instructions on Searching ATLA

ATLA Religion Database, 1949?-present (updated semi-annually)
Contains citations to scholarly books, international journals, dissertations, and book reviews on theology and the practice of all world religions.  Besides searching for key words and phrases, there are a few awkward ways to search ATLA according to the biblical reference (e.g. John 3:16; John 3; John 3-5).


To search the ATLA database for articles on a specific verse: (following options are better)

1.     In the EBSCO Host search page for ATLA, choose "Advanced Search"

2.     Enter the name of the book, chapter, and verse IN QUOTATION MARKS as follows: "John 3:16."

3.     In adjacent drop-down box, choose "SC Scripture Citation."

4.     Click on "Search" and all articles indexed with that specific citation will be listed.

·   Note: This approach will NOT give you all articles that discuss your verse in their range of discussion, only articles just citing that verse.


To search the ATLA database for articles on a book or  range of chapters and verses: (first, alternative approach)

1.     In the EBSCO Host search page for ATLA, go to the top blue bar and select "Indexes."

2.     Next to "Browse an Index” from the drop-down box select "Scripture Citation."

3.     In the "Browse for" box type in the book and the first chapter number (e.g. for John 3-5, just type in "John 3" (w/o quotation marks)) and click the "Browse" button.

·         For biblical books that are numbered (e.g. 1 Samuel, 2 Corinthians) type in the book name, comma and ordinal, chapter number (e.g. Samuel, 1st 10, Corinthians, 2nd 8).

4.     The next screen has a list of references in that book that begin with "John 3 by chapter and verse that are contained in indexed articles.  Select each reference (click the box) that is pertinent.

·         Note:  Some of the listings do not make sense (e.g. "John 35-51").  Ignore these and just check the ones that do make sense.

5.     In the drop-down box next to "Select one or more terms…" that has search terms "and, or, not" select the appropriate term – probably this will be "or."

6.     Click "Add," and these terms will be added to the field at the top of the page.

7.     Click "Search" and the indexed articles related to those verses will be displayed.


To search ATLA database for all articles on a book, range of chapters and verses, or on a specific verse: (second and most comprehensive approach?)

1.     In the EBSCO Host search page for ATLA, go to the top blue bar and select "Scriptures."

2.     Find your biblical book.  (If you click on the book title, it will give you all articles on that book, which will probably by too much.)  Click on "expand" and it will take you to the book chapters.  Click on the chapter number and you will get all articles that cover that chapter in their discussion.  (You may repeat this process for multiple chapters.)

3.     If you want to search by verse, click on "expand" beside the correct chapter number and you will see verses that can be searched.  When you click on that verse, you will get all articles that include that verse in their range of discussion.

Social Sciences Librarian

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Allan Scherlen
Belk Library, Office no. 224
P.O. Box 32026
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608