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ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials Plus: Using ATLAS for Biblical Studies

Introductory instruction on using the ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials Plus to find relevant articles on theological topics and scripture passages.

The ATLA Hierarchical Scripture Authority

What is the ATLA Hierarchical Scripture Authority?

In addition to the standard search options found in all EBSCO databases, the ATLAS database has a unique tool for biblical studies research called the ATLA Hierarchical Scripture Authority. Despite the intimidating name, the authority rather simply uses the canonical structure of the Bible to enable users to easily find materials related to a given verse or scriptural pericope.

Using the ATLA Hierarchical Scripture Authority

To navigate to the Scripture Authority, enter the ATLAS database from the Articles & Databases page. The Authority can be accessed from the top-line tab called 'Scripture' (between 'New Search' and 'Thesaurus') above the basic search boxes.

Upon clicking the 'Scriptures' link, you will see a list of the books of the Bible in canonical order. The book titles are all blue hyperlinks, followed by secondary blue hyperlinks of the word Expand in brackets.

Clicking the book title will take you to a result list containing everything in the database tagged for that topic. For instance, if you click 'Numbers' you will see every item record related to the book of Numbers in your results. It is more likely, however, that you are looking for a specific pericope, or set of verse, within a given book of the Bible. Clicking on the Expand link next to a book title will give you a further breakdown with links by chapter...

...and clicking on it next to a chapter title will give you a further breakdown to the verse level. At any point in your navigation onf the Scripture Authority, you can backtrack a layer (returning to the chapter layer from the verse layer as an example) by clicking the Previous Level link in brackets.

Perhaps you have been assigned Genesis 21:8-21, the story of Hagar and Ishmael's expulsion after the birth of Isaac. Upon entry to the Scripture Authority, you would first click "Expand" next to Genesis. The first page of chapters under Genesis contains chapters 1 through 19, so it is necessary to use the "Next" link at the top or bottom of the page to access chapters 20-39. You would then click "Expand" next to Chapter 21, and choose a verse link in your range, such as verse 8. ATLAS will return any materials related to that verse, including materials that may look at broader passages than your pericope, so there will be materials covering the full scope of the Hagar-Sarah story (loosely Genesis chapters 12-25), in addition to scholarship focused solely on Genesis 21:8-21.

Complementary Searching

Using the ATLA Hierarchical Scripture Authority is not the only way to utilize the ATLAS database for biblical studies. It is a tool to be used in conjunction with the other search methods described on the home page of this guide as well as the Finding Articles LibGuide. You can utilize the basic search screen to perform a combined keyword search for Hagar AND Ishmael. You can use the LC Subject links in a relevant item record to perform a Subject search for 'Ishmael, (Biblical figure)'. You can use the Scipture Citation link from a relevant record to find only materials specifically limited to 'Genesis 21:8 - 21:21'. All of these methods are valid and some of them will work more successfully than others for a given topic, so remember to explore various options. 


Additional Online Resources for Biblical Studies

Online Commentaries

The Barbour Library has a number of commentary sets with online access options, like the New International Commentary on the New Testament, as well as commentaries in one volume, like the Fortress commentary on the Bible: The Old Testament and Apocrypha. These online resources can be found by using the Advanced Search function of the online card catalog and choosing EBOOK as the Material Type. To access the full text of these materials, use the "View Electronic Resource" link at the bottom of the item record. For additional information on using the Barbour Library's eBook collection, visit the eBooks LibGuide.



The ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials Plus is the only database with the Hierarchical Scripture Authority tool, but there are a number of other great databases for biblical studies available here at PTS. All of the following can be helpful biblical studies research tools.