Citing Reference Works 1

Authors and copyeditors frequently wonder how best to cite dictionaries, encyclopedias, lexica, and grammars. Although SBLHS §§6.3.6 (An Article in an Encyclopedia or a Dictionary) and 6.3.7 (An Article in a Lexicon or a Theological Dictionary) offer some help, a number of specifics remain unclear.

To bring clarity to the issue, the SBLHS blog will offer a series of posts addressing the different types of reference works that authors frequently cite. We encourage readers to email us with questions about specific reference works. Our goal for the series is to address as many questions as possible that authors and copyeditors are likely to encounter.

This first post sets the groundwork for the ensuing discussion by identifying several key distinctions that will be important to keep in mind.

1. Entries versus articles. The nature of the piece often determines the rules of citation: short entries such as those found in BDB or DCH are treated differently than the longer articles in TDOT or TLOT. This series of posts will thus use the terms entry and article precisely to reflect this difference.

2. Signed versus unsigned pieces. Whether a piece is signed or unsigned will likewise affect the way it should be cited. Although reference entries are more often unsigned than articles and articles more often signed than entries, one should not assume a simple correspondence between the two. In fact, some reference works (e.g., HBD) contain both unsigned and signed articles that are best cited in different ways.

3. Authored versus edited work. Some reference works are authored by a small number of scholars (e.g., GKC, BDAG); others contain the contributions of a large number of scholars whose work has been collected by one or more editors (e.g., NIDB, ABD). The type of work will generally influence the way a piece within that work should be cited.

These three sets of distinctions will guide and organize our discussion in the series, as we discuss the citation of unsigned dictionary or lexicon entries in reference works such as BDAG/BAGD/BAG (this lexicon merits its own post), BDB, LSJ, and HALOT; unsigned articles in dictionaries such as HBD and ABD; signed articles in encyclopedias such as EBR and NIDB; and any other reference works about which readers ask.

One final note: this series will both clarify and, as necessary, revise the information found in SLBHS §§6.3.6–7 and CMS 14.247–48. As always, the guidelines offered will not be a matter of right versus wrong, correct versus incorrect; rather, the guidelines will reflect SBL Press preferences for our own publications. That being said, we hope that other publishers will adopt these guidelines, in order to promote greater consistency across the discipline.


Citing a Chapter from a Single-Authored Work

The SBLHS 2 §6.2.12 provides guidelines for citing a chapter in a multivolume work (see also CMS §14.112):

15. Harold W. Attridge, “Jewish Historiography,” in Early Judaism in Its Modern Interpreters, ed. Robert A. Kraft and George W. E. Nickelsburg (Philadelphia: Fortress; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1986), 311–43.

Attridge, Harold A. “Jewish Historiography.” Pages 311–43 in Early Judaism in Its Modern Interpreters. Edited by Robert A. Kraft and George W. E. Nickelsburg. Philadelphia: Fortress; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1986.

A chapter in a single-author work should be treated in a similar fashion (see CMS §14.111). However, it is unnecessary to repeat the author’s name after the title of the volume:

16. K. Lawson Younger Jr., “The Origins of the Arameans,” in A Political History of the Arameans: From Their Origins to the End of Their Polities, ABS 13 (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2016), 35–107.

Younger, K. Lawson, Jr. “The Origins of the Arameans.” Pages 35–107 in A Political History of the Arameans: From Their Origins to the End of Their Polities. ABS 13. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2016.


A Festschrift (pl. Festschriften) is a volume dedicated to a particular scholar. It typically contains essays written by colleagues or students of the scholar in honor of the scholar’s retirement or another significant life event.

In bibliographic entries, Festschriften should be treated like other edited collections.

Calduch-Benages, Núria, and Jacques Vermeylen, eds. Treasures of Wisdom: Studies in Ben Sira and the Book of Wisdom; Festschrift M. Gilbert. BETL 143. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1999.

Campbell, Joan Cecelia, and P. J. Hartin, eds. Exploring Biblical Kinship: Festschrift in Honor of John J. Pilch. CBQMS 55. Washington, DC: The Catholic Biblical Association of America, 2016.

Note: The term Festschrift typically appears in the first or second subtitle and should be italicized along with the rest of the title. The scholar being honored in the Festschrift is generally not listed as an editor of record.

When referring to a Festschrift, use the official title of the work. Do not abbreviate Festschrift (FS) or include the term Festschrift unless the official title does so.

Discouraged: Kuntzmann, Raymond, ed. Ce dieu qui vient: Études sur l’Ancien et le Nouveau Testament. FS Bernard Renaud. LD 159. Paris: Cerf, 1995.

Preferred: Kuntzmann, Raymond, ed. Ce dieu qui vient: Études sur l’Ancien et le Nouveau Testament offertes au professeur Bernard Renaud à l’occasion de son soixante-cinquième anniversaire. LD 159. Paris: Cerf, 1995.

Similarly, do not include dedicatory remarks unless the official title does so.

Discouraged: Hogan, Karina Martin, Matthew Goff, and Emma Wasserman, eds. Pedagogy in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity. Dedicated to Ellen Aitken. EJL 41. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2017.

Preferred: Hogan, Karina Martin, Matthew Goff, and Emma Wasserman, eds. Pedagogy in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity. EJL 41. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2017.

For instructions on how to cite articles in a Festschrift, see the SBLHS 2 §6.2.13.

Platonic Ideas

Early Christian texts were influenced by many cultural forms. One prominent influence was Neoplatonism, a philosophical tradition traditionally accredited to Plotinus (204–270 CE) and loosely based on the philosophical tradition begun by Plato (427–347 BCE). Since many scholars write about the connection between Platonism, Neoplatonism, and early Christianity, it is useful to establish some basic guidelines for the concepts associated with these philosophical traditions.

1. We recommend capitalizing terms referring to the philosophical movement, since they derive from or are associated with the proper name Plato (so also CMS §8.78).



Middle Platonic


Note that Neoplatonic is not hyphenated, so Neo– should be capitalized and –platonic lowercased (see SBLHS §

2. By analogy, we also recommend capitalizing contemporaneous philosophical traditions whether or not they derive from a proper name.









When such terms are used as generic adjectives (e.g., “he has a stoic attitude”), use lowercase.

3. Following CMS §8.93, we recommend capitalizing transcendent Platonic or Neoplatonic ideas:


the First

the Forms

the Good


the One



Writing about matters that touch on religious commitment and practice inevitably raises a question about the proper stance of the author to the subject. Although some writers adopt the language and tone of an adherent in order to reach the community of faith, scholarly writing, as a rule, seeks to communicate in as neutral a manner as possible. This post offers suggestions for referring to those canonized as saints in the Christian tradition, but its principles apply equally to the use of similar religious honorifics in other religious contexts.

1. In academic writing, it is generally unnecessary to include the title saint before a personal name (here we depart from CMS §10.26).

Augustine (not Saint Augustine)

Catherine of Siena (not Saint Catherine of Siena)

Francis of Assisi (not Saint Francis of Assisi)

John Chrysostom (not Saint John Chrysostom)

John wrote his gospel … (not Saint John wrote his gospel)

If, for some reason, it is necessary to include the honorific, it is best to spell out the term.

            Saint Augustine (not St. Augustine)

Either way, do not include the word saint in an index.


            Catherine of Siena

            Chrysostom, John

            Francis of Assisi

2. One should include the word saint or an alternate form if it is part of a family name or place name. For example:

Camille Saint-Saëns

Elmaro Camilo dos Santos

Ana Isabel Jiménez San Cristóbal

Saint Louis, Missouri

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Susan M. St. Ville

William P. Le Saint

As the above examples illustrate, when saint, st., san, or santos appears as part of a family name, follow the usage of the bearer (CMS §10.27). However, when it is used as part of a geographic location, it is best to spell out saint (CMS §10.31).

In bibliographies and indices, alphabetize the name according to the form of the term that appears in the text (Saint, San, St., etc.) (CMS §§16.75, 16.93):

Le Saint, William P.

San Cristóbal, Ana Isabel Jiménez

Saint-Saëns, Camille

Santos, Elmaro Camilo dos

St. Ville, Susan M.

3. If the word saint or its alternative form appears as part of a bibliographic reference, follow the form of the official title.

8. Morna Hooker, The Gospel according to Saint Mark, BNTC 2 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1991), 223.

Augustine. The Letters of St. Augustin. In vol. 1 of series 1 of The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Edited by Philip Schaff. 28 vols. in 2 series. 1886–1889. Repr., Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994.

Noting Biblical Versions

SBLHS 2 §8.2.1 lists many standard abbreviations for ancient textual versions and modern biblical editions (e.g., LXX, MT, NRSV, BHQ). However, it does not explicitly indicate where the notation should occur in relationship to a biblical citation. Should one, for instance, cite LXX Prov 1:1 or Prov 1:1 LXX? Should one include the notation in parenthesis (Prov 1:1 [LXX]) or separate the citation from the version with a comma (Prov 1:1, LXX)?

The answer lies in the examples provided in SBLHS 2 §8.3.3. As indicated there, biblical citations should be followed by the version or translation notation, with no intervening parenthesis or punctuation.

3 Kgdms 2:46h LXX

1 Kgs 2:46h LXX

Jer 28:1–4 LXX

Ps 80:8 (80:9 LXX)


Prov 1:1 NRSV

Prov 1:1 LXX

Prov 1:1 MT

In some cases there is no need to include a notation about the version cited. For instance, if it is clear from the context of the citation that the scholar is referring to the MT, no additional notation is required.

However, generally an author should indicate the source of the translations quoted or the verse references cited in a note.

Unless otherwise indicated, all translations of biblical texts are mine.

Unless otherwise indicated, all translations of biblical texts are from the NRSV.

Except as indicated, all references to the Psalms follow MT versification.

Separating Multiple Series

As noted in the SBLHS 2 §§, 6.2.15, multiple publishers should be separated by a semicolon in a bibliographic entry.

15. Birger Gerhardsson, Memory and Manuscript: Oral Tradition and Written Transmission in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity, ASNU 22 (Lund: Gleerup; Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1961).

Gerhardsson, Birger. Memory and Manuscript: Oral Tradition and Written Transmission in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity. ASNU 22. Lund: Gleerup; Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1961.

Note the correction to the order of the Gerhardsson’s first and last name in the bibliographic entry, per our post here.

A similar practice should be followed in bibliographies when citing a volume that is published simultaneously in multiple series.

Evans, Craig A., ed. Of Scribes and Sages: Early Jewish Interpretation and Transmission of Scripture. 2 vols. LSTS 50–51; SSEJC 9–10. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2004.

In footnotes, however, separate multiple series with a comma.

16. Craig A. Evans, ed. Of Scribes and Sages: Early Jewish Interpretation and Transmission of Scripture, 2 vols., LSTS 50–51, SSEJC 9–10 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2004).

For more information on how to separate distinct publication elements in footnotes, see our post here.