MUS 2500: Introduction to Theology through Congregational Song (Bjorlin)

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Beginning Your Research

  • Begin with specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias (for specific periods, traditions, doctrines, or individual theologians) for brief overviews.

  • Reference work articles also provide key vocabulary, concepts, persons, events, and disputed issues.

  • Reference works often include brief introductory bibliographies as well.

  • Consulting several reference works can fill in points omitted in another article.

  • Multiple articles can provide multiple perspectives on the subject, especially on the disputed aspects.

  • Identifying the principal criticisms and disputed issues is essential to understanding theologians and their place in its contemporary context and in the larger Christian tradition.

  • The repetitions of the multiple reference works helpfully emphasize the most important elements and points of consensus.

  • The bibliographies will point toward the next step, finding the best primary and secondary sources.

Primary & Secondary Sources

Primary Sources

  • First-hand information.

  • Created during the time period being studied.

Secondary Sources

  • Second-hand information.

  • Describe, analyze, interpret, or otherwise comment on primary sources, using other primary sources as well as other secondary sources.

Note that some books include both primary sources and secondary sources. Volumes of primary sources often include secondary source material that introduces and explains the primary source.