Eras and Time Periods

The SBLHS 2 §8.1.2 recommends the use of all caps without periods in abbreviations of chronological eras (see also CMS §9.35):

AD anno Domini (in the year of our Lord)
AH anno Hegirae (in the year of [Muhammad’s] Hegira)
BC before Christ
BCE before the Common Era
BP before the present
CE Common Era

Note that, when spelled out, “Common Era” is capitalized. In this, we follow the CMS §§8.72–73 in capitalizing many traditional, premodern historical and cultural periods:

the Augustan Age
the Bronze Age (Early Bronze Age, Middle Bronze Age, etc.)
the Common Era
the Counter-Reformation
the Enlightenment
the Iron Age (Iron I, Iron II, Iron III)
the Middle Ages (the High Middle Ages, but early Middle Ages, late Middle Ages)
the Renaissance
the Reformation

Note: We capitalize the words early and middle before Bronze Age because the Early Bronze Age and Middle Bronze Age are traditionally defined archaeological periods.

Aside from these traditional periods, we follow the CMS in recommending a caps-down style wherever possible (see CMS §8.71). Thus:

ancient Greece
antiquity
early Christianity
early Judaism
imperial Rome
late antiquity, late antique
the Amoraic period
the Byzantine period
the church age
the classical period
the Gaonic period
the Hellenistic period
the patriarchal period/age
the Persian period
the postapostolic era
the postbiblical era
the postexilic period
the preexilic period
the rabbinic period
the Roman period
the Tannaitic period

In the latter list, Amoraic, Roman, Christianity, Hellenistic, and the like are capitalized because they are the proper names of peoples (see CMS §8.37), cities or countries (see CMS §8.44), religions (see CMS §8.95), or proper adjectives derived from proper nouns (see CMS §5.67).

In SBLHS 2 §4.3.6, gaon and gaonic are lowercased. The term gaon should be lowercased when it is used as a generic term. Like Amoraim and Tannaim, however, the plural form, preferred spelling Geonim, should be capitalized because it is the proper name of an identifiable group (like Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, Essenes). The proper adjective derived from Geonim should also be capitalized. We recommend the following spelling and capitalization norms:

gaon (office), but Saadiah Gaon (title used with name)
Geonic
Geonim

Program Units, Meetings, and Fields of Study

Following the CMS, the SBLHS 2 recommends a down style of capitalization (the use of fewer initial capital letters). Like the CMS, we recognize that there are exceptions.

The names of conferences, program units, and organizations, for instance, are typically capitalized (see CMS §8.69):

the Enoch Seminar
the Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity program unit
the Society of Biblical Literature

Similarly, in bibliographic entries, one capitalizes the name of the organization at which a paper is presented:

31. Susan Niditch, “Oral Culture, and Written Documents” (paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the New England Region of the Society of Biblical Literature, Worcester, MA, 25 March 1994), 13–17.

Niditch, Susan. “Oral Culture, and Written Documents.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the New England Region of the Society of Biblical Literature. Worcester, MA, 25 March 1994.

Note: In the SBLHS 2 §6.3.8, the name of the Society of Biblical Literature is incorrectly abbreviated. As illustrated above, the names of organizations at which papers are presented should be spelled out.

Fields of study, however, are not capitalized unless they are part of a department name or course title (see CMS 8.84–85):

biblical studies
classics
history of religions
rabbinics

but

She teaches in the Department of Biblical Studies.
He taught Theories in Biblical Studies last semester.

Note: Course titles are capitalized but not placed in quotation marks or italics.

Similarly, academic titles are capitalized only when used before a name (similarly to the formatting of, e.g., Queen Danuhepa; see further CMS §§8.18–22 and 27):

the chair; Mary Foskett, chair of the Society of Biblical Literature Council
the president; Beverly Gaventa, president of the Society of Biblical Literature
the professor; Steven J. Friesen, professor of religious studies and classics; Professor Friesen
the professor emeritus; Michael V. Fox, professor emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Professor Emeritus Fox

Italics or Scare Quotes?

In speech, individuals emphasize phrases and demarcate ironic uses of terms by using vocal inflection. Written texts lack such inflection, and authors must compensate with some form of visual clue. Following the CMS, the SBLHS recommends the following practices (here we use red font to draw attention to particular terms or phrases):

1. When emphasizing text, use italics (CMS §7.47).

We highlight that, while the stories of both these historical maternal figures are similar, they are not quite the same.

If you quote another scholar who uses emphasis, preserve the italics from the source material and indicate in parenthesis that the emphasis was intended by the original author.

Laura Kipnis (2015) criticizes Bolick for answering an already-outdated question: “Is marriage really the basis of female ontology in 2015?… It’s depressing that women seem to keep forgetting that basically we can do whatever we want” (emphasis original).

If you wish to add emphasis to quoted material, italicize the relevant word or phrase and indicate in parenthesis that you added the emphasis.

The scholarly analysis notes that “black women have a substantially lower risk of marrying than white women” (Lichter, Batson, and Brown 2004, 19, emphasis added).

As a rule, we encourage authors to use italics for emphasis sparingly. An overabundance of italics diminishes the desired effect and may annoy or confuse readers, distracting them from the main point of your argument. Consider two versions of the same paragraph:

If the two prophets in Rev 11 may be identified as a symbol for the faithful, prophetic church, then the Sun Woman’s garb helps us to see her in this same light and not simply as a passive woman who is acted upon rather than being an agent exercising her own agency. In other words, the Sun Woman symbolically wears her righteous agency.

If the two prophets in Rev 11 may be identified as a symbol for the faithful, prophetic church, then the Sun Woman’s garb helps us to see her in this same light and not simply as a passive woman who is acted upon rather than being an agent exercising her own agency. In other words, the Sun Woman symbolically wears her righteous agency.

In the first version, many phrases are italicized, leaving the reader to wonder which point the author is highlighting. In the second version, italics are used sparingly, allowing the reader to quickly identify the main point that the author wishes to emphasize.

2. When using a word as a term, especially in a definition, use italics the first time (SBLHS §4.3.2.4, CMS §7.54, 58).

Single is defined as “unmarried or not in a romantic relationship.”

If the term is repeated, italics are not necessary on subsequent uses.

Sass is often defined as mouthing off, talking back, back talking, attitude, a woman not backing down to a man, or a child determined to have the final word in response to a real or perceive injustice or wrong.… Black feminist scholar bell hooks defines back talk or talking back as “speaking as an equal to an authority figure … daring to disagree … having an opinion.” Sass or talk back can refer to verbal and nonverbal behaviors, such as placing one’s hands on one’s hips or rolling one’s eyes.

3. When using a term as slang, use roman font. Only use quotation marks if the term is foreign or unlikely to be known to readers (see CMS §7.57).

The notion of a woman such as Delilah or Niki Minaj as a playa is not so much a blurring of lines or transgression of boundaries as it is evidence of the fluidity of gender roles and performativity.

4. When using a word in a nonstandard or ironic sense, one may use double-quotation marks (a.k.a. scare quotes, CMS §7.55). We discourage the use of single quotation marks.

I am sensitive to commentaries on Judg 1:11–12:7 that explicitly or implicitly read the text through the lens of “family values.”

However, one should use such quotation marks sparingly. Overuse can irritate the reader. More important, without inflection, readers can easily become confused: Is the author quoting from a source? being sarcastic? emphasizing a point? Does the author intend a special meaning for the term? Consider the previous example rewritten:

I am “sensitive” to commentaries on Judg 1:11–12:7 that explicitly or implicitly “read” the text through the “lens” of “family values.”

Where is the focus? Which terms are being emphasized? Which terms are used ironically?

If the sentence is clear without quotation marks, omit the quotation marks. If the reader may be confused about your possible meaning, reword the sentence to indicate clearly your disagreement with or ironic use of a term.

I am sensitive to commentaries on Judg 1:11–12:7 that explicitly or implicitly read the text through the lens of so-called family values.

Note: If a word or phrase is preceded by so-called, do not enclose it in quotation marks (CMS §7.56).

For the use of italics and quotation marks with foreign terms, see SBLHS §4.3.2.5.

Resource Quoted

The above examples are drawn primarily from Gay Byron and Vanessa Lovelace, eds., Womanist Interpretations of the Bible: Expanding the Discourse (SemeiaSt 85 [Atlanta: SBL Press, 2016]). We have modified the sentences as needed to provide examples of how one should and should not use italics and quotation marks.

Brown Judaic Studies

Brown Judaic Studies Monograph Series (BJS) is a peer-reviewed monograph series that publishes high-quality, specialized books aimed primarily at a scholarly audience. The first three BJS volumes were published in 1977 by Scholars Press: Tzvee Zahavy’s The Traditions of Eleazar ben Azariah (BJS 2), William Scott Green’s edited Persons and Institutions in Early Rabbinic Judaism (BJS 3), and Joshua B. Stein’s Claude Goldsmid Montefiore on the Ancient Rabbis: The Second Generation of Reform Judaism in Britain (BJS 4). BJS 1, the first volume of William Scott Green’s edited Approaches to Ancient Judaism, was published the following year. Since that time more than 350 volumes have appeared in the series.

Although currently produced and distributed by SBL Press, the official copyright holder is Brown University, and the publisher of record is Brown Judaic Studies. References to volumes in the series should use the abbreviation “BJS” to refer to the series and “Brown Judaic Studies” (not abbreviated) to refer to the publisher.

Johnson Hodge, Caroline, Saul M. Olyan, Daniel Ullucci, and Emma Wasserman, eds. “The One Who Sows Bountifully”: Essays in Honor of Stanley K. Stowers. BJS 356. Providence, RI: Brown Judaic Studies, 2013.

Abbreviating “Epistle”

The SBLHS 2 recommends that readers use the abbreviation “Ep.” when epistula(e) appears within an abbreviated title (see SBLHS 2 §8.3.14.1). For example:

John Chrysostom

Ep. carc. Epistula ad episcopos, presbyteros et diaconos in carcere
Ep. Cyr. Epistula ad Cyriacum
1 Ep. Innoc. Ad Innocentium papam epistula I
2 Ep. Innoc. Ad Innocentium papam epistula II

Similarly, unnamed epistles can be abbreviated:

Gregory of Nazianzus

Ep. Epistulae

For consistency, we recommend changing the following abbreviation of Jerome in  the SBLHS 2 §8.3.14.3 to match:

Jerome

Current:

Epist. Epistulae

Corrected:

Ep. Epistulae

For instructions on how to number epistles and how to cite epistles in a bibliography, see the SBLHS 2 §6.4.4.

Dio Cassius

Dio Cassius (a.k.a. Cassius Dio, Dio) was a second-century CE Roman historian. He is best known for his eighty-book Roman History. Because this classic work is Dio Cassius’s sole surviving work, some scholars choose to reference the work by Dio Cassius’s name alone:

(Dio Cassius, 1.2)

However, to maintain consistency with other ancient references with an identifiable author, we recommend that readers use the following abbreviation:

Hist. rom. Dio Cassius, Historiae romanae

References to the work should include Dio Cassius’s name, an abbreviation for the work, and the specific part of the text being referenced:

(Dio Cassius, Hist. rom. 1.2)

Historiae romanae comprises eighty books, each of which is further subdivided into chapters and sections. The example above cites chapter 2 of book 1; to cite section 3 of chapter 2, one would write: Dio Cassius, Hist. rom. 1.2.3.

When an English translation of the work is quoted, the translator’s name should be included in brackets (see SBLHS 2 §6.4.2):

(Dio Cassius, Hist. rom. 1.2 [Cary])

The Greek text and English translations of Historiae romanae are available online at the Perseus Collection (Greek only) and at Archive.org (Greek and English).

Titles with Question Marks

Titles that end in a question mark require special attention.

1. When a title ends in a question mark, do not add a colon before the subtitle either in a note or in a bibliographical entry (CMS §14.105).

15. Bailey, Randall C., Tat-siong Benny Liew, and Fernando F. Segovia, eds. They Were All Together in One Place? Toward Minority Biblical Criticism, SemeiaSt 57 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009).

Bailey, Randall C., Tat-siong Benny Liew, and Fernando F. Segovia, eds. They Were All Together in One Place? Toward Minority Biblical Criticism. SemeiaSt 57. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.

2. When the title would normally be followed by a period, do not add the period (CMS §14.105).

21. This argument is demonstrated in Bailey, Liew, and Segovia, They Were All Together in One Place?

3. When the title is followed by any other punctuation, keep the punctuation required by the surrounding text (CMS §14.105). Although the question mark will remain italicized as part of the title, the following punctuation should not be italicized.

Groundbreaking in this regard was the volume They Were All Together in One Place?, which was edited by Randall Bailey, Tat-siong Benny Liew, and Fernando F. Segovia.

25. Bailey, Liew, and Segovia, They Were All Together in One Place?, 56–58.