Posted by: chuckbumgardner | April 9, 2016

Keeping Up with the Literature (on the LTT)

picture-of-a-stack-of-books-with-some-harry-potter-glassesMy area of concentration in my Ph.D. studies is the New Testament, and my particular research area is the Letters to Timothy and Titus (LTT), commonly styled the “Pastoral Epistles” (that’s another matter!). I have a penchant (and to some degree, a need) to keep up with what is being published on those NT letters so as to understand the ongoing conversation about issues in them. Through the graciousness of Ray Van Neste, I’m often able to post the results of my bibliographic searches at for wider dissemination.

I was asked a few months back how I manage to come across all of the academically-oriented material I do, as it is often found in essay collections, obscure journals, and so forth. I’m sure there are other ways—and I’d love to hear them—but the following are what I do in order to stay apprised of what is being produced. Obviously, some of these things are far more productive than others, but I’d say that I discover things by means of each of them that I wouldn’t discover otherwise (or at least not nearly as soon).

(1) ALTA Religion Database with ATLA Serials, via my seminary library.  This is a fairly comprehensive and up-to-date database. You can search by Scripture; and so I choose each of the LTT and order the results by most recent date. I also search “Pastoral Epistles.” You can set up alerts with this service as well, although I have had trouble getting them to work well.
(2) NTA (New Testament Abstracts) print volumes in the library.  These have a discrete section where the LTT article abstracts are clustered, and cross-references to other articles that deal with the LTT more obliquely and have their primary categorization elsewhere. I also scan through the “books received” lists in pertinent categories and catch essays (in collected volumes) that are generally not abstracted individually.
(3) Every few months, I scan tables of contents of the most recent print issues of relevant journals in the library (e.g., NTSNovT, Early Christianity, JBL, EvQZNW, TynBulBSac). Takes about half an hour and usually nets me a few things I haven’t seen yet.
(4) I subscribe to the free service at, which emails me tables of contents for a number of journals when they come out. This is an extremely helpful service about which I’ve posted here. This overlaps with the previous point, but not all print journals are covered by journaltocs.
(5) I scan footnotes in recent essays, and bibliographies in recent monographs and commentaries. This is particularly helpful for me for foreign-language works, where someone who lives in that language is familiar with the literature in that language, and I and most English-speakers are not.
(6) Every few months, I search “Pastoral Epistles,” “1 Timothy,” and “2 Timothy” in Google Books, organizing results by most recent date (“Titus” is too common to make it a good search term). For contents of books, I find Google Books is the most robust repository online; Amazon will net some results as well, but Google Books tends to have more content for more academically-oriented books.
(7) In connection with the last point, I have set up three Google Scholar alerts: “Pastoral Epistles,” “1 Timothy,” and “2 Timothy” (again, “Titus” is too common to be a good search term), and get regular email alerts. Today, for instance, I was alerted to a new book by James Aageson (a familiar name to anyone engaged in the academic study of the LTT) which contains a section on “The Pastoral Epistles.”
(8) Sometimes, if I’m researching a narrower topic, I’ll search Google Books for the title of a key article/monograph that is about that topic (so, e.g., when studying salvation in the LTT, I searched for “Wieland ‘Significance of Salvation'”). A number of books that footnote that work will also footnote similar works, some of which I might be unaware.
(9) When I find someone who has written on the LTT more than once, or has written a commentary—say, Jens Herzer or Michael Theobald or Michel Gourgues or Korinna Zamfir or Paul Trebilco — I find a faculty page for them that gives a CV. Especially if they’ve written a commentary, they probably have a number of articles leading up to it (William Mounce is a notable exception!).
(10) I belong to the “Pastoral Epistles” group on, and others who belong to that group will at times post recent articles they’ve written. There is similar functionality at I “follow” people who have tagged “Pastoral Epistles” as a research interest, and their posts show up in a news feed. I also receive a weekly digest from via email which highlights recent contributions that might be of interest.
(11) I find a few things at that I don’t myself contribute.
(12) I subscribe to the Mohr Kurier, and chase down any likely volumes in the Theologie section.
(13) As an SBL member, I have access to Review of Biblical Literature and get a summary email every week which lists just-posted reviews. This doesn’t generally net me much in the way of new bibliographic discoveries, but is excellent for reading summary treatments and critiques of pertinent literature. I was recently alerted, for instance of Korinna Zamfir’s review of Joram Luttenberger’s Prophetenmantel oder Bücherfutteral?: Die persönlichen Notizen in den Pastoralbriefen im Licht antiker Epistolographie und literarischer Pseudepigraphie; this was helpful in providing an (English-language) overview of a German work.


Clearly, my particular research interest lends itself more readily to some of these avenues of discovery than others—and I’d be glad to entertain suggestions of others!


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