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Finding Articles on a Bible Passage

Atla Religion Database

Atla Religion Database has good Scripture citation indexing, but the search interface for doing this kind of searching, despite recent improvements, is rather quirky. Therefore, there are a couple different search strategies that one can use. Each has its pros and cons, and a combination of strategies is required in order to be thorough.

Strategy 1: Using the Atla Hierarchical Scripture Authority

When using the Atla Hierarchical Scripture Authority search mode, the computer attempts to correctly interpret the verse ranges cited on the database records. The user is allowed to select an individual chapter or verse and the computer will attempt to display all the articles about the chosen chapter or verse specifically, as well as all the articles about any range of verses that includes the chosen chapter or verse.

Pros: Interprets Scripture ranges on the database records.

Cons: Only works on individual chapters or verses; it does not allow the user to enter a verse range (although a work-around for small ranges is possible).

  1. At the top of the search screen, click on the link in the toolbar labeled “Scriptures”.
    Scriptures link at top of search screen
  2. A list of the books of the Bible will be displayed in canonical order. Click “[Expand]” next to the book that you would like to search within.
  3. A list of chapters in the chosen book will be displayed. Again, click on “[Expand]” next to the chapter that you would like to search within, which will bring up a list of verses. Click on the verse that you would like to search on to execute the search. (You could also click on the chapter itself to perform a search on the whole chapter and any part thereof.)
    Lists of chapters and verses

A Work-Around for Small Verse Ranges

When executing a search through the Atla Hierarchical Scripture Authority, you’ll notice something similar to the following in the search box at the top of the results page.
Searching for a single verse

Let’s say that this is the first verse in your desired range. Copy and paste the entire contents of the first search box into the second. Change the verse number to the second verse in your desired range, and switch the “AND” operator to “OR”. Repeat for each verse in your desired range, adding rows as necessary.
Searching for multiple verses

Strategy 2: Using the Bible Citation Index

The Bible Citation Index is a list of all the verse ranges cited on all the records in the database. Atla Religion Database allows you to browse this index and select any Scripture citations you deem relevant. Then, it will automatically construct a search that will display all the articles that are about any of the Scripture citations you chose.

Pros: You can create a highly targeted search.

Cons: You can easily miss a relevant Scripture citation in the list, especially since the sorting of the list is counter-intuitive (see more below). Ranges are not interpreted.

  1. At the top of the search screen, hover your mouse cursor over the “More” menu and then click on the link in the toolbar labeled “Indexes”.
    Indexes link at top of search screen
  2. On the Indexes screen, in the “Browse an Index” menu, choose “Bible Citation”, and in the “Browse for” box enter a Scripture reference (whole book, single chapter, single verse, or range). Click the “Browse” button. Important Note: Numbered books must be entered as in these examples: Corinthians, 1st; Kings, 2nd; John, 3rd.
    Browsing the index
  3. Check off any Scripture citations that look relevant to your search. Be sure to view the previous and next pages to make sure you get everything that is relevant. Important Note: This list is sorted strictly alphabetically, not numerically. Therefore, verses 10, 11, 12, etc., because they start with a 1, will be listed before verse 2 (likewise 20, 21, 22, etc. before 3, and so on).
    Select relevant citations
  4. Click the “Add” button to add the selected Scripture citations to your search. Be sure to leave the “or” operator selected.
    Adding selected citations to search
  5. Once you have added all the Scripture citations that you want, scroll up to the big search box at the top and click the “Search” button.
    Automatically generated search query


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