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RELG 222: Gnosticism (HC)

Religion 222: Gnosticism (McGuire) Spring 2015

Tips for Searching Part 1

If you search a catalog or database and receive a large number of results, add a limit or additional keyword in order to retrieve a manageable and relevant number of results to review.  At the same time overly narrow search terms can return too few results.  One way of solving both problems is to use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), which allow you to limit or expand searches depending on your needs.

For example, a search for gnostic  AND bible will return items that contain both concepts:


women OR gender returns items that contain either one of the concepts or both:

disciple* NOT john returns items that talk about any one of the disciples but does not mention John:

Phrase searching:

An important strategy to use when searching for phrases ("nag hammadi") or titles:

For example, "gospel of mary"   will search for those words in that order,


Truncation and Wildcards:

Most catalogs and databases enable users to search variations of keywords by using truncation (*) or wildcard (e.g., ?, $, !) symbols.

For example, one could search for politic*  to find poltic, politics, political, politicking, and so on.

Wildcard searches are for differences within words: a search for wom?n will return results for woman, women, and womyn.

Nested Searching:

When pairing two or more keywords with another keyword, it is important to "nest" the former terms within a larger Boolean search.

gnostic* AND  (bible OR biblical OR christian*) AND (heresy OR heretic* OR apolog* OR polemic*)   will return results for the union of the three subject areas.

Tips for Searching Part 2

Subject Headings allow you to find relevant material grouped together including titles that do not use the keywords you may be searching.


Finding subject headings

       Look at a book record in Tripod, check the subjects assigned to it, and choose whatever ones are relevant for your research.

Example:  The religious context of early Christianity: a guide to Graeco-Roman religions

Edited by Hans Josef Klauk.  Fortress Press, 2003.


                                     church history  primitive and early church, ca. 30-600

                                     christianity and other religions  greek

                                     christianity and other religions  roman

                                     rome  religion

                                     greece  religion

   Subject search   christianity and other religions  roman  =  62 results


Refining subject searches

                        You can combine different concepts into a single subject search for precision.  The results are more focused than a keyword search.

                         But all the words have to be terminology used in library subject cataloging.

                         To ensure this, you can use subject headings you have already found. 

                                     Another option is to browse in the subject headings for more choices.                   

                          Combination subject search:

  (greek OR roman OR "early christian*" OR gnos*) (mystery OR secret OR initiat*)  =  58  results

                        Finds the connections between two groups of concepts concerning time period/place and ideas of secret knowledge,