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Subject guide

Religious Studies

Overview of databases, reference works and websites for research in religious studies.

The collection religious studies closely follows the education and research of the Centre for the Study of Religion (LUCSoR) of Leiden University. Main areas of collecting are: methods and theories in (comparative) religious studies, sociology of religion regarding the Netherlands and the Western World, psychology of religion, Islam in the Western World, the history of Christianity and Judaism (focus on the period from 1750), new religious movements and Greek and Roman religions.

The collection Religious Studies is for the most part located in the University Library: in the closed stacks, the open stacks and in the reading rooms. To locate individual titles, please refer to the Catalogue.

Reference collection

The first floor of the University Library houses a collection of reference works, such as dictionaries, encyclopedias and primary works. These can not be borrowed, however it is possible to make copies or scans.

The reference collection is arranged by Library of Congress Classification (LCC). Titles in the area of Religious Studies are mostly placed in category B:

BL Religions. Mythology. Rationalism
BM Judaism
BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc.
BQ Buddhism
BR Christianity
BS The Bible
BT Doctrinal Theology
BV Practical Theology
BX Christian Denominations

Books and journals on Asian religions (buddhism, hinduism, jainism) are mostly kept in the Asian Library, a smaller part is held in the Social Sciences Library.

Printed journals

Current volumes of journals which are not published online are placed in the journal cabinet in study room 1. Older volumes are placed in the closed stacks and can be requested through the Catalogue.

Find our databases on Religious Studies in the catalogue.

To the catalogue

Finding articles

Open Access Digital Theological Library: search system for open access articles in religious studies and related disciplines.


The World Religion Database publishes detailed statistics on religious affiliation for all countries and ethnicities worldwide. In addition, the WRD contains estimates for demographic developments within religions up to the year 2050.

Statistics on, primarily American, religious groups can also be found the website of The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA). The site also contains extensive profiles per country and timelines and family trees of all kinds of different denominations.

Reference Works

Encyclopedia of Religion 2nd edition (Lindsay Jones/Mircea Eliade, Macmillan 2005), studie room BL31 .E46 2005: almost completely updated version of the famous encyclopedia that was edited by Mircea Eliade in the 70s. Authoritative and extensive reference work on religious practices worldwide.

Encyclopedia of Global Religion (Mark Juergensmeyer et al, SAGE 2011): more than 800 entries provide an overview of the globalization of religious culture. Contributions about the diaspora of religions and the response of religions to the multicultural society, such as Japanese Religions in Latin America and Faith Tourism. In addition, essays about the current religious developments of each country, but also of regions and major cities. Online

Metzler Lexikon Religion (C. Auffarth, Metzler 2002): 600 articles describe religions and their rituals systematically and from an anthropological perspective. Although overtaken by the updated translation (Brill Dictionary of Religion) the Metzler is still usable. Focus is on Europe. Placed in the study room: BL31 .M48 1999

Handbuch religionswissenschaftlicher Grundbegriffe. 5 parts (1988-2001): almost the only reference work that explicitly presents and discusses the analytical concepts of religious studies. Placed in the study room: BL48 .H353 1988

Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions (John Bowker, Oxford UP 2003): lemmas about major and minor religious movements, biographies of religious leaders and descriptions of religious places, customs and rites, dogmas and artifacts. Contains bibliographical references and indexes. Online

Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion: psychological interpretations of religious rituals, symbols, doctrines and experiences (David Adams Leeming et al, Springer 2008). Placed in the study room: BL53 .E43 2008.

APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion and Spirituality (Kenneth Pargament, American Psychological Association 2013): overview of the current state of affairs in religious psychology. The essays in part 1 of this handbook discuss psychological theories for explaining religion and its manifestations. In part 2 the focus is on applied psychology in religion and spirituality. Print

Encyclopedia of religious rites, rituals, and festivals (Frank A. Salamone, Routledge 2004): explanation of theoretical concepts such as asceticism, magic and taboo, descriptions of famous rituals within different religions and cultures (including Christmas and Star Trek meetings). Placed in the study room: BL31 . E47 2004

Research methodologies

Sage research methods online: books, reference works, articles and videos on social science research methods from setting up an interview or survey to processing statistical data and writing an article.

Routledge handbook of research methods in the study of religion (Michael Stausberg, Routledge 2011)

Engaging with lived religion: a guide to fieldwork in the study of religion (Stephen Gregg, Routledge 2015)

Current Affairs in Video: award-winning films and documentaries on contemporary political issues.

Ethnographic Video Online: photo's and films on culture, human behavior and societies worldwide.

Books to start with

Finding Articles

L'Annee Philologique: bibliography containing citations from scientific publications (starting from 1969) on Greek and Roman history, language and culture (200 BC to around 800 AD). For older literature, see: L'Annee Philologique (1928 -...)

Gnonom Online: international bibliography in the field of ancient history, archeology and classical languages. Indexes articles from 1998 onwards. Users can browse the contents with the help of an extensive hierarchical thesaurus. Some references also include summaries.

Mentor. Guide bibliographique de la religion grecque (2 vol.) (A Motte, Liege 1992 & 1998): contains references from mainly French-language books and articles published from 1875 on all aspects of Greek religion, supplemented by a short summary and commentary. In the study room: BL782 .M46 1992 / BL782 .M38 1998

Bibliographie analytique de la prière grecque et romaine (1898-1998) (2000) & supplement 1998-2003 (2013): titles in all kinds of different languages. Each reference contains a summary, keywords and a list of cited source texts. The first part is placed in the study room: BL560 .C43 2000

Romana religio/religio romanorum : diccionario bibliográfico de religión romana (S. Montero & S. Perea, 1999): over 10,000 titles in Spanish, English, German, French and Italian on Roman religion arranged by topic. The introduction is in Spanish and English, the index mainly in Spanish. Placed in the study room: Z7837 .M65 1999

See also the Subject Guide Classics.

Reference Works

Brill's New Pauly: Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World: translation of the Neue Pauly, the most complete encyclopedia about antiquity, with almost 20,000 entries. Also includes supplements such as the Dictionary of Greek and Latin Authors and Texts and the Historical Atlas of the Ancient World.

Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae (Hans Christoph Ackermann, Artemis 1981-2009): multipartite encyclopedia containing iconography of the Greeks, Etruscans and Romans until the early Christian period. Comprehensive bibliography. Also placed in the study room: N7750 .L49 1981.

Thesaurus cultus et rituum antiquorum (Getty Trust Publications 2005-2006). Multipartite and authoritative reference work on Greek, Etruscan and Roman cults and rituals. The volumes are organized thematically. The first three volumes deal with dynamic elements such as rituals, prayer, gestures and magical acts, volume IV focuses on cult places and volume V on cult staff. Placed in the study room: BL727 .T48 2004

Oxford Dictionary of Classical Myth and Religion (S.R.F. Price & Emily Kearns, Oxford UP 2003)

Religions of the ancient world : a guide (Sarah Iles Johnston, Belknap Press 2004): short overviews of all important aspects of ancient religions. Placed in the study room: BL687 .R47 2004

Greek religion: a sourcebook (Valerie M. Warrior, Focus 2009): collection of translated source texts. Focus is on the early periods of Greek religions.

Die Götter der Griechen (Erika Simon, Hirmer 1980): useful overview of Greek gods, their myths and iconography. Placed in the study room: BL782 .S54 1969

Individual descriptions of Greek and Roman gods can be found, among others, in the series Gods and heroes of the ancient world published by Routledge (press Individual volumes connected to this series).

Books to start with

The Cambridge history of religions in the ancient world (Michele Renee Salzman et al, Cambridge UP 2013): extensive overview of the religions of the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean world.

For a comprehensive overview of reference works, books and articles on various aspects of Greek and Roman religions see Oxford Bibliographies Classics and search on Roman Religion and Greek Religion.

Finding Articles

Historical Abstracts indexes over 2.000 journals in all areas of history.

Index Theologicus: free online bibliography by the Universitätsbibliothek Tübingen. Indexes over 600, mostly European journals.

Theologische Literaturzeitung: reviews of recently published theological books. Focus is on publications in the German language, but attention is also given to Anglo-Saxion, Scandinavian, French, Spanish and Italian publications. Online

Journal portals ProjectMuse and Jstor offer access to hundreds of academic journals in a wide selection of subjects.

Elenchus Bibliographicus: this bibliography indexes publications in the area of theology and church law and was published as issue 2 and 3 of the journal Epheremides Theologicae Lovanienses. The issues from publication years 1951 till 2013 can be found in the study room: Z7751 .E64.

New Testament Abstracts: printed bibliography focusing on the New Testament and its historical background (archeology, early christianity, gnosticism, etc.). The citations are derived from over 500 journals in a variety of languages. The current issue is placed in the journal cabinet in study room 1, previous issues can be found in study room 2 (BS410 .N35).

Good resources for medieval christianity are the International Medieval Bibliography (articles) and the Bibliographie de Civilisation Médiévale (books). The can be searched simultaneously or separately. Other helpful sources are the Oxford Bibliographies - Medieval Studies and the website Medieval Christianity and Ecclesiastical sources (up-to-date bibliography of Charles D. Wright (University of Illinois) sorted by subject with abstracts of reference workds and bibliographies).

For the reformation and after: Archive for Reformation History Literature Review (yearly published online supplement with annotated reviews of recent academic publications). For literature by subject you can also refer to Reformation and Early Modern Europe: a guide to research (David Whitford, Truman State UP 2008) and the Oxford Bibliographies - Renaissance and Reformation, among which 'Reformations and Revolt in the Netherlands 1500-1621.

Reference Works

Encyclopedia of the Bible and its reception (Walter de Gruyter, 2009-...): contains extensive information about the origins and development of the Bible in its various canonical forms within Judaism and Christianity. In addition, the EBR contains entries related to the reception history of the Bible in Christian churches and other, Western and non-Western, religious traditions, literature and art.

Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology (Ian McFarland, Cambridge UP 2011)

Biographisch-bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (Traugott Bautz 2002 - ...): biographies of prominent figures in the the history of the Christian Church.

Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum: Sachwörterbuch zur Auseinandersetzung des Christentums mit der Antiken Welt (Hiersemann 1941 - ...): encyclopedia focusing on the relationship between Christianity and Roman culture. Lemmas concentrate on philosophy, science, archeology and geography, among other things, and are generally divided into "Christian" and non-Christian. Not yet complete.

Lexikon der antiken christlichen Literatur (Siegmar Döpp, Herder 2002): in addition to biographies of Christian authors until 735 AD. articles about literary genres and trends.

Theologische Realenzyklopädie (Horst Robert Balz e.a., De Gruyter 1977-2007): 36 bindings with around 2,000 articles about the entire history of Christianity. In the study room: BR95 .T47 1977.

Atlas of Global Christianity: 1910-2010 (Todd M. Johnson et al, Edinburgh UP 2009): covers every important Christian tradition and consists of essays on the development of Christianity in various parts of the world. Placed in study room 4: G1046.E42 A85 2009

Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation: attention for theological issues and church-political changes, art, literature and demography (Hans J. Hillerbrand, Oxford UP 1996). Online

Encyclopedie du Protestantisme: focused on individuals, theological movements and events within contemporary Protestantism(Pierre Gisel, PUF 2006). In the study room: BX4805.2 .E52 2006

Christianity of North Africa and West Asia / Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa (Kenneth Ross e.a., Edinburgh UP 2017-2018): statistics and analytical essays about all major movements within Christianity arranged by country.

Books to start with

Finding articles

Rambi: free online bibliography for Jewish Studies by Eretz Israel. Citations are based on the holdings of the Jewish National and University Library.

L'Annee Philologique: database for searching for scientific publications on ancient Greek and Roman societies. Contains over 810,000 citations.

Old Testament Abstracts: printed bibliography with short summaries of books, articles and software related to the study of the Hebrew Bible. Topics include archeology, biblical theology and apocrypha. The latest edition can be found in the journal cabinet in study room 1, previous volumes can be found under number BS410 .O42. OTA runs from 1978.

Reference Works

Encyclopaedia Judaica (Michael Berenbaum/Fred Skolnik, MacMillan 2007): provides an exhaustive and organized overview of Jewish life and knowledge from the Second Temple period to the contemporary State of Israel, from Rabbinic to modern Yiddish literature, from Kabbalah to "Americana" and from Zionism to the contribution of Jews to world cultures.

Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World (Norman A. Stillman/Phillip I. Ackerman-Liebermann, Brill 2010, placed in study room DS135.L4 E53 2010): More than 250 entries about the history, religion and culture of the Jewish people in Islamic countries. Focus is on the period after the Middle Ages.

Eerdmans Dictionary of early Judaism (John J. Collins / Daniel C. Harlow, Eerdmans 2010): reference work on Judaism in the Greco-Roman period with essays, maps and an extensive glossary supplemented with bibliographical references.

Handbook of Jewish literature from Late Antiquity, 135-700 CE (Eyal Ben-Eliyahu et al., Oxford UP 2012): complete overview of Jewish literature (Mishna, Talmud, mysical writings, Aramaic translations of the Bible, etc.) from the second to the seventh century of our era. Each description deals with content, dating and language. Placed in the study room: BM177 .B46 2012.

Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion, 2nd edition (Adele Berlin, Oxford UP 2011): authoritative reference work with over 2,500 entries on Jewish theology and philosophy, legislation, customs and movements, supplemented by bibliographical references. Placed in the study room: BM50.O94 2011

The Routledge Atlas of Jewish History (Martin Gilbert, Routledge 2003): more than 100 maps depict Jewish demography and migration.


The Sephardic Studies Collection: digitized prayer books, bibles, letters, newspapers, poems, photos and much more published by Sephardic Jews between the 17th and mid-20th centuries.

Books to start with

Finding articles

Sociological Abstracts: for books and articles from scientific publications published starting 1963 on sociological aspects of religion. Abstracts from 1974.

PsychInfo: lists publications from 1887 and on on psychological aspects of religion and spirituality, such as identity and acculturation, personal values and worldview, religious rituals, fundamentalism, palliative care and intelligent design.

The website of the Center for Studies on New Religions (Cesnur) in Torino contains references ordered by religious movement. The library catalogue can be searched by subject code (a list with codes is on the website).

For books and sources on esotericism (hermetics, alchemy, rosicrucians, mysticism and gnosis) see also the catalogue of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica (Ritman Library) and The Esoteric Web, a web portal created by the Center for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents of the UvA.

Bibliographie der alchemistischen Literatur (Volker Fritz Brüning, Saur 2004-2007): overview of publications on alchemy from the invention of the printing press up to 2000. References are supplemented with short author biographies, a photo of the book cover and locations of a title. Placed in the study room: QD23.5 .B53 2004

Reference Works

New religious movements

Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements II (James R. Lewis, Oxford UP 2016): essays on NRM research such as the social-scientific approach to NRMs, controversies around NRMs and children in NRMs.

Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements (Peter B. Clarke, Routledge 2006): descriptions of more than 300 religious movements worldwide. Also essays on topics such as NRMs and cyberspace, NRMs and law and NRMs and gender and descriptions of people who have profoundly influenced the development of NRMs such as Carl Gustav Jung and Emmanuel Swedenborg. The entries are arranged from A to Z and are supplemented by a short bibliography. Placed in the study room: BL80.3 .E539 2006

Handbook of hyper real religions (Adam Possamai, Brill 2012): essays about religious movements with a strong link with popular culture, such as Star Wars, Tolkien and Harry Potter.

Cambridge companion to New Religious Movements (Olav Hammer/Mikael Rothstein, Cambridge University Press 2012): discusses the most important characteristics of NRMs from a comparative perspective. In addition, descriptions of a number of religious movements (Sathya Sai Baba, satanism, neo-paganism).

Bloomsbury companion to New Religious Movements (George D. Chryssides/ Benjamin E. Zeller, Bloomsbury: 2014): overview of research methods into NRMs. Contains timelines, an extensive bibliography and a glossary with explanations.


Dictionary of gnosis and western esotericism (W.J. Hanegraaff, Brill 2005): more than 400 articles on the historical development of important movements within gnostics and western esotericism, such as Hermetism, astrology, rosicrucians, freemasonry and New Age.

The Western esoteric traditions: a historical introduction (Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Oxford UP 2008): overview of western esoteric movements and their history. Attention for Jacob Boehme, Emanuel Swedenborg, mesmerism and the rosicrucians, among others.

Witchcraft and magic in Europe (Bengt Ankarloo, University of Pennsylvania Press 1999-2000): 6 chronological volumes with critical contributions on all aspects of magic and witchcraft from antiquity to the present.

Access to Western esotericism (Antoine Faivre, State University of New York Press 1994): overview of the history of esotericism, supplemented by an extensive bibliography of studies on esotericism.

Books to start with

New religious movements


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