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New Testament Studies Research: Bible Backgrounds, Manners & Customs

Suggested Resources and Search Queries to find information on issues, controversies, questions and background of the New Testament

Historical Background, Date, Authorship, Purpose

To find information on the Historical Background, Date, Authorship or Purpose of a book of the Bible, copy and paste the search terms/queries listed below into the Powell Library Discovery Catalog search box.  Like this:

ONLINE STUDENTS: Feel free to make use of the Powell Library's Book Scanning Service and/or Controlled Digital Lending Service


SUBJECTS: to command the Discovery search engine to look only in the Subject field, precede subject terms with su: 

su:history biblical events (for the date and history of the Exodus use su:exodus, the)

su:bible antiquities (use instead of bible archaeology; also use "antiquities" along with the names of biblical countries and cities e.g. Palestine antiquities)

su:bible geography

su:classical dictionaries

su:history ancient

su:judaism history post-exilic period

su:jews history to 70 a.d.

su:bible manners customs

su:bible handbooks

Note:  use “n.t.”, "new testament", “o.t.” and "old testament" as needed e.g.,  su:n.t. history biblical events; su:old testament history biblical events; su:bible new testament antiquities; su:bible o.t. antiquities

Tip 1: You may leave out the periods between n.t. and o.t. however, you must keep the space where the periods belong (e.g. bible n t geography).

Tip 2:  The online catalog is not case sensitive making it unnecessary to capitalize search terms however, doing so will not affect the search. 

KEYWORDS: Search with these keywords:

bible backgrounds

bible backgrounds "new testament"

bible backgrounds "old testament"

Alternatively, you may precede a keyword search with the field code: kw: although it is not necessary as "keyword" is the default search.  Like this:

kw:bible backgrounds

kw:bible backgrounds "new testament"

AUTHORS: to command the Discovery search engine to look only in the Author field, precede the author's name with au:. These authors are especially important: James Bennett Pritchard, Yohanan Aharoni, Michael Avi-Yonah, Anson Rainey and Ze'ev Safrai.

au:james bennet pritchard

au:yohanan aharoni

au:ze'ev safrai


For the date and authorship of a specific book of the bible use su:bible [book] date; su:bible [book] authorship; su:bible [book] biography;   Like this:

su:bible genesis date

su:bible genesis authorship

su:bible genesis biography

su:pentateuch date (for the date of the book of Exodus)

su:exodus, the (for the historical event of the Exodus)


For the purpose of the bible or books of the bible use su:bible [book] introductions.

su:bible introductions

su:bible new testament introductions

su:bible old testament introductions

su:bible genesis introductions


To find articles, search the following periodical databases using the same search terms as indicated above but without the field codes <su:>, <kw:>, <au:>:

-- ATLA Religion

-- Christian Periodical Index (CPI)

-- ProQuest Religion

-- Old Testament Abstracts

-- New Testament Abstracts. 

Go to Find Databases on the library web site to access these databases. For more information, view the short video tutorial "Find Databases"


Use TREN to find theological theses and dissertations. Theological Research Exchange Network (TREN) provides free downloads of their eDocs to TMUS students.  Find the link to TREN on the Find Databases page of the Powell Library web site.


Last updated February 2023.



Related Research Guides

Dewey Decimal Classification for Bible Backgrounds Research

The TMU library’s collection is arranged according to the Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC).  An outline of the whole DDC can be found at Summaries: DDCThe following are the more common DDC numbers used for bible backgrounds research.

You may search for a specific DDC number in the Discovery catalog with this field code: nu: like this:

Bible as a whole:

220.9   Geography, history, chronology, persons of Bible lands in Bible times

220.91 Geography

220.92 Collected persons (individual persons can be found with the part of the Bible in which the person is chiefly considered e.g., Abraham 222.11092)

220.93 Biblical Archaeology

220.931 Manners & Customs of the Biblical world

220.95 History of Biblical events

Old Testament:

221.9   Geography, history, chronology, persons of Old Testament lands in Old Testament times

221.93 Archaeology (Material remains)

New Testament:

225.9   Geography, history, chronology, persons of New Testament lands in New Testament times

225.95 New Testament background

Other Testaments:

229        Apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, intertestamental works

296.155 Dead Sea scrolls

Ancient History:

930    History of the Ancient World to ca 499

930.1 Archaeology

932    Egypt to 640

933    Palestine to 70

935    Mesopotamia and Iranian Plateau to 637

936    Europe north and west of Italian Peninsula to ca. 499

937    Italian Peninsula and adjacent territories to 476

937.06 Period of Roman Empire, 31 B.C.-476 A.D.

938    Greece to 323

939    Other parts of the Ancient World to ca. 640


Library of Congress Classification (LC) for Bible Backgrounds Research

The Master’s Seminary Library uses the Library of Congress Classification System (LC).  For an outline of the entire LC System go to the Library of Congress Classification Outline.  The following are the more common LC numbers used for bible backgrounds research

BS 410-780    Works about the Bible

BS701-1830   Old Testament

BS1901-2970 New Testament

CB                  History of civilization

CC                 Archaeology (General)

D 51-95         Ancient history

DF 10-289     Ancient Greece

DS 1-326       Ancient Near East Asia

GN                Anthropology


Bible Backgrounds, Manners & Customs

Last updated May 2022.

Old Testament Backgrounds, Manners & Customs

Last updated November, 2020.

New Testament Backgrounds, Manners & Customs

Last updated November, 2020.