by Melody Detar, Divinity Librarian
Biblical commentaries are an expensive, yet essential part of theological research. Since theological publishers have been slow to release commentaries and other theological resources digitally, students must often still rely on print materials for their research (although it never hurts to check for ebook versions as well!). Here are our tips for accessing commentaries as a distance student:
- The first thing to remember is to start your research early! Although you may take time in actually writing your paper, we recommend that you aim to gather the necessary resources as early as possible. This is so that you provide adequate time to ensure the resources you need are available and that there is time to acquire what you need.
- Select what resources meet your needs. If you are overwhelmed by the vast number of commentaries that are available, you are not alone! That is why the Regent University Library provides a research guide specifically aimed at helping you locate commentaries. This guide also houses a list of recommended commentaries developed by School of Divinity faculty.
- Request your selected resources through InterLibrary Loan (ILL). ILL can either ship circulating books to your home or provide resources electronically. When requesting commentaries, the book chapter option is recommended because the ILL department will scan up to 100 pages of a book and make it available as a PDF. This is faster than shipping books and is absolutely free of charge! Keep in mind that you do not need specific page numbers when entering a request; you can simply reference a passage, such as “Mark 9:14-29.”
- Consider local libraries. If you live near a theological library, you may prefer to browse their materials and check out books, if that option is available. The Regent University Library is now part of a reciprocal borrowing group composed of a growing list of theological libraries nationwide. Check if a theological library near you is part of the group and you will have free access to their materials and permission to check out books. If you do not find a library near you on the list, you may consider using ILL at a local public library or you may purchase a card to check out books at a local theological library. The Regent Library will reimburse our distance students up to $100 per year for an academic library card. Click here for more information and a reimbursement form.
- As always, contact a librarian if you have trouble finding what you need. We are excited to help you succeed!