Reformation Day at Emory 2015

The twenty-eighth annual Reformation Day at Emory focused on Scripture and Reform: The Ten Commandments as Jewish Law, Christian Gospel, and Civic Code. After docent-led tours of Dr. Armin Siedlecki’s exhibit ‘That We a Godly Life May Live’: Martin Luther and the Ten Commandments, Dr. M. Patrick Graham presented highlights from the year’s acquisitions to the Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection. We then heard the preaching of Professor Jonathan Strom and enjoyed a luncheon musical program with the Candler Singers, directed by Rev. Barbara Day Miller.

In the afternoon, we listened to three lectures on the Ten Commandments: Professor Brent A. Strawn clarified fundamental aspects of the Ten Commandments, Professor John Witte Jr. examined the uses of the Ten Commandments in Reformation politics and law, and Professor Ted A. Smith explored the question “What Would it Mean to Live by the Ten Commandments Today?” Videos from the sermon and the three lectures are available at the following link.

To receive updates on next year’s Reformation Day at Emory, contact us at theologyref [at] emory [dot] edu.

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Oxford Biblical Studies Online Now Available @ Pitts

Pitts Theology Library has initiated a trial with Oxford University Press to offer the Oxford Biblical Studies Online package to all Emory students, faculty, and staff, as well as walk-in users in the library, through Databases@Emory (link and description below). We are hoping that there will be sufficient interest in this excellent collection of online texts, commentaries, and reference works to justify a full purchase of the package, beginning in 2016. So, we invite you to explore these resources and come speak to the Pitts reference librarians about the content that is included. We are excited about the possibility of offering this on a permanent basis, and if we do purchase it, we will be developing instructional material soon.

Oxford Biblical Studies Online @ Emory: (requires Emory login)

Description from the Publisher

Oxford Biblical Studies Online provides a comprehensive resource for the study of the Bible and biblical history. The integration of authoritative scholarly texts and reference works with tools that provide ease of research into the background, context, and issues related to the Bible make Oxford Biblical Studies Online a valuable resource not only for college students, scholars, and clergy, but also anyone in need of an authoritative, ecumenical, and up-to-date resource. Easy to search and navigate, this site offers a ready access point for a wealth of Bible text and commentary—including the New Oxford Annotated Bible and five other popular Oxford Study Bibles—under the direction of a team of esteemed scholars headed by Editor in Chief Michael D. Coogan. Texts from selected Oxford Bibles can be viewed in side-by-side display with the user’s choice of commentary and annotations from the Study Bibles, the stand-alone Oxford Bible Commentary, and A-Z concordances for the NRSV and NAB translations. The Bible content is supplemented by collections of major apocryphal Old and New Testament texts in translation. In addition to the Bible texts, Oxford Biblical Studies Online offers quick access to over 5,000 A-Z entries from the Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Oxford Companion to the Bible, and a wealth of other Oxford references. Users can easily navigate to hundreds of topical essays within the Oxford Study Bibles themselves, in The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies, The Oxford History of the Biblical World, The Oxford Illustrated History of the Bible, Oxford Bible Atlas, and other works, and access hundreds of searchable images and maps from these major scholarly publications. Research in Oxford Biblical Studies Online is enhanced by timelines, a special Tools & Resources section with informative tables and charts, a list of Internet resources approved and recommended by specialists in the field, a lectionary calendar, and suggested reading lists for further research. A Bible Verse Look-up feature and sophisticated search and browse capabilities allow for easy navigation through the site. Oxford Biblical Studies Online is updated with new content and revised articles twice a year. In addition to this, Focus On essays are updated six times per year, keeping researchers informed of advances in the field.

Key Texts Available Online (a select set; see a full list here:

New Oxford Annotated Bible

Jewish Study Bible

Catholic Study Bible

Oxford Bible Commentary

Concise Concordance to the NRSV

Oxford Bible Atlas

Oxford Dictionary of the Bible

Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Oxford Encyclopedia of the Books of the Bible

Oxford Encyclopedias of the Bible

Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Theology

Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and the Arts

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How Do I Read the Church Fathers and Mothers?


You’ve heard their names in class—Augustine, Origen, Thomas Aquinas and Julian of Norwich. Still, you’ve stayed away, because finding resources on the Church Fathers and Mothers is difficult! How do you know where to locate translations? And how do you know if the translation is any good? This Wednesday, the library ran a workshop to address precisely these questions.

What is the bare minimum you need to begin researching one of the church mothers or fathers? First, you need to know the person’s name, being specific as possible. Augustine of Hippo and Augustine of Canterbury may share the same name, but they are separated by an entire continent and at least two centuries. Second, you need to know the name of the author’s works—it is helpful to know these titles in both English and their original language (Latin or Greek), since translators will often leave titles untranslated.

There are two big questions you should ask yourself as you asses a translation’s value. First, what kind of translation is it? This entails knowing a little bit about the author (do they have a history of publishing on this topic) and his or her perspective (are they writing Thomas Aquinas as a philosopher or a theologian)?  Second, when was the translation written? Older translations, while often still useful, do not take into account new information that has come to light (such as newly discovered manuscripts or resources).

To cover your bases, always read the translation’s introductory material as well as the foot or end notes. These can give you clues to the translator’s choices and perspective. Consult reviews of the book (no one likes critique more than language scholars!). Finally, if possible, compare translations—points of difference can often be a productive place to begin research. Below you will find links to print translations in a series, as well as online translations. Keep in mind that standalone translations (single volumes) may be the best and most current translation available– look in reference works or speak to a librarian to help find these editions!

Here is a list of several print collections of historical works in translation—many available in the Pitts Reference section.

  1. Ante-Nicene Fathers as well as Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers (early church)
  2. Classics of Western Spirituality (early church up through late medieval– shelved by author, not as a series. Julian of Norwich translation is linked as an example!)
  3. Library of Christian Classics (early church through late medieval)
  4. Loeb Classical Library (Classical Greek and Roman authors, some early church– Augustine is linked as reference. Original language and English translation included.)
  5. Fathers of the Church (early church– housed both in a series in Reference and with individual authors in the stacks– Ambrose is linked as an example)
  6. Works of Saint Augustine (all of Augustine’s work in translation)

Here is a list of online resources—always investigate the age of online translations!

  1. Loeb (digital)
  2. Perseus Digital Library (including texts, dictionaries, and morphological analysis of Greek and Latin words)
  3. New Advent (translated early and medieval texts– including Thomas’ Summa theologiae)
  4. Christian Classics Ethereal Library (resources for biblical study, many early and medieval Christian authors in translation)
  5. Fordham Sourcebooks (collections by era (ancient, medieval, modern), by geography (Byzantium, Africa, Mediterranean), and by topic (Judaism, slavery, etc.))
  6. (extensive resources specifically on Tertullian)

Feel free to check out the powerpoint slides from the workshop, as well as the handout (with fun flowchart on choosing a translation!).  As always, please feel free to contact reference librarians for advice about finding and citing these resources!




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How Should I Read a Book?

Can you determine what an academic book is about in five minutes? At a workshop this week we gave it our best, taking this quiz after “reading a book” for 5 minutes. Some say that seminary education is a three year course in learning how to read. We agree, in part, at the Pitts Theology Library, and during a Wednesday Workshop this week we took some time to focus on this essential task of reading. The stated agenda was to learn how to read, but much of the conversation was about learning how not to read. That is, we discussed strategies for consuming the argument of books quickly, without starting at page 1 and reading to the end. We learned how to read catalog records and shelf browse (even virtually), research an author’s other publications, find book reviews, and read from the outside in, studying the guideposts around the book (titles, tables of contents, indices) as a guide to the content within. We also discussed strategies of critical reading for content, including taking positions of “creative agreement” and “creative disagreement” so as to ensure our biases about the book, subject matter, or author don’t hinder us from critical engagement. In the end, we all took away strategies to help us read, though it might be more accurate to put “read” in quotation marks. Want to learn what we did? Check out the slides from the workshop here.

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How do I do research?


Did you know that the Pitts Wednesday Workshops count toward your First Year “Academic Experience” requirements?

Well, they do! There are 9 more Wednesday Workshops this semester, and the first 12 participants get a free Panera meal– so check out the possibilities here.

Our first workshop went down on Sept. 2, covering the basics of the research process. If you missed the workshop, but are staring down a semester full of research papers– fear not! Instead of looking at the project as a giant, untamed mess, break it down into four manageable steps. Each of these four steps has clearly defined goals and prepares you to produce an amazing research paper or project.


How do you even begin the research process? The first step is to understand the assignment! What are the topics discussed in the assignment description? More importantly, what is your professor asking you to do with those topics? Look for key words like “analyze,” “compare,” or “argue.”

Once you feel you have a handle on the assignment, you can formulate an initial research question—something that will guide and limit your project. A good formula for this question is the following: I am working on ___ [broad topic],  because I want to find out ___ [how/why/what], so that I can help others understand ____[ the so what?].

Try to make sure that your research question is at least initially feasible—the entirety of the book of Ruth may not work as a paper topic, but a chapter might!


With your research question in mind, then turn to collecting resources for your project. Always start with what you already have! This includes assigned readings, lecture notes and even your syllabus (which often has suggested bibliography). Talk to a reference librarian or search the Pitts Research Guides to see what is available on your topic.

Then, move on to general overviews of the subject—this would include dictionaries, encyclopedias, or sourcebooks. One good overview that’s available online is the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Most dictionaries and encyclopedias will include suggested bibliography at the end of each entry— then follow the bibliographic rabbit trail! A lot of work has been done on a lot of subjects. There is no need for you to reinvent the wheel—leverage all that good work to your own advantage.

For example, while checking out the texts suggested by the dictionary, read the footnotes/endnotes and the main bibliography, located at the end of the book! These are invaluable resources for further bibliography—here, you will find authors who have written many works on particular topics, good ideas for key words to search in databases, and a better vocabulary for writing about your topic. Remember, once you’ve found a book in the stacks (or online), look around you! Shelf reading digitally or physically can uncover many more useful resources.

Once you’ve gathered a critical mass of information, go back to your research question. Given what you know now about the topic, is your topic too narrow? Too broad?


All the information you have gathered will not be useful for your paper—some of it may not be authoritative, while other aspects may be beyond the scope of your paper. Looking back at the notes you took on all your resources, consider which elements will support your central argument. Eliminate those resources that are tangential, uninteresting, or simply not relevant to your own work. Remember, the space of your paper will provide limits on the resources you can include.


Finally, you must marshal all the information you have collected to support a central idea, or thesis—this is the answer to your research question! Outlining your paper, with its main points and supporting evidence, is a great way to ensure you only include pertinent information.

Remember, the Candler Writing Center offers individual appointments to workshop your papers. Take advantage of this great resource!

Using these four steps, the research process becomes a little bit more manageable. And, even better, the whole process is summed up in the graphic below (come by the reference desk for a physical bookmark)!

Research Process


You can also access the Powerpoint from the presentation here.


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Wednesday Workshops: Opportunities to Learn About Research

The Pitts Theology Library is an instructional library, and the librarians consider ourselves educators. One way we exhibit this mission is through the Wednesday Workshops, instructional sessions offered most weeks of the academic term on Wednesday from 12 to 12:50, starting September 2. These lunch sessions feature librarians teaching on research topics, ranging from issues of citation, presentation design, digital humanities, and many more. The first 12 registrations will receive a free Panera lunch, but everyone will receive valuable research instruction. A full list of topics offered this Fall, along with links to register, can be found at We look forward to learning with you on Wednesdays!

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Scavenger Extravaganza!


On Tuesday, many  intrepid new Candler students participated in a Pitts Theology Library tour and scavenger hunt. While exploring the many spaces and faces of the library, students also practiced a number of useful library skills. There is still time to join one of four tours on Friday afternoon: simply sign up using this link for tour registration, or just show up!

Many exciting opportunities await, including:

finding a reserve book

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navigating the reference section:

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learning how to use the scanners:

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exploring special collections:

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and stretching your creative muscles with book spine poetry!

Evernote Snapshot 20150818 140239


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Welcome New Students!

Pitts Theology Library would like to extend a very warm welcome to all new Candler students! We look forward to seeing you at the library sessions during orientation and encourage you to sign up for one of the optional tours.

We hope you will also take a moment to come and explore the library beyond these scheduled meetings. During the bustle of the school year, the library offers quiet spaces for study and a welcoming community in support of your academic journey. Pitts staff members are here to assist you with checking out books, doing research, and navigating the library. Come visit the circulation desk or find a reference librarian if you have any questions, both now and throughout the year!

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Thursday Honors

Thursday afternoon has become a highly anticipated time of the week at Candler. From 2:00 to 3:00 pm each Thursday, the library holds the Thursday Honors event: a coffee and refreshment break for all library patrons. Funding for the event is provided each week by donors, who choose to honor individuals or groups from the community. Past honorees have included Candler staff members, student groups, and alumni. Honorees’ photos are featured on the welcome screen at the library entrance throughout the week.

The response to the event has been overwhelmingly positive, and the Pitts staff is excited about continuing to provide and develop this weekly opportunity for recognition, conversation, and refreshment. To sponsor a Thursday Honors event, please contact Rebekah Bedard at rebekah [dot] bedard [at] emory [dot] edu.


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Summer Exhibition: Windows on the World

Have you ever wanted to see autographed first editions of To Kill a Mockingbird or Gone with the Wind? Would you like to see Sherman’s map of Atlanta or Aaron Burr’s pocket watch? This summer, we invite you to view these items, and many other rare books, maps, photographs, and manuscripts, in the third floor exhibit gallery at Pitts Theology Library.

The exhibition is curated by members of the Atlanta Grolier Club, a club for collectors and bibliophiles. Through the exhibition, Atlanta Groliers honor the memory of David Parsons (1939 – 2014), an esteemed member of the Grolier Club and faithful volunteer at Pitts Theology Library.

“Windows on the World” runs until August 21 and is open during regular library hours. Come and see the exhibit at any time or sign up for a tour at the following link:

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