Rolfing Unshelved

Books, news, and events from TIU's Rolfing Library

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Help! What Commentary Should I Use? (Pt. 1)


I was in college when I first began using commentaries. I was rather aimless, didn’t have much help or guidance, and just sort of jumped in. Maybe that’s been your experience as well.

The whole process of learning about commentaries is sort of like a circle — There’s no obvious starting point. You just have to enter somewhere, learn from your mistakes, and figure things out as you go. In one sense, the best way to get to know commentaries is to just use them.

But the process doesn’t have to be that aimless. Your entrance into the world of commentaries doesn’t have to be as abrupt as mine was.

Here are some resources to help you get started and guide you along the way.

Best Commentaries is a site dedicated to providing reviews and rankings for a variety of Biblical resources including — as the name suggests — commentaries. Although it may not be the most reliable source, by and large I have found the rankings fairly accurate and helpful.

Once you select a specific Biblical book, Best Commentaries provides you with a list of commentaries on that book organized according to their “score.” Best commentaries also offers basic information about each commentary, e.g., author, date, series, and type (technical, pastoral, devotional, Jewish, special). Each commentary page even tells you if Rolfing carries that particular book (hover over the particular book and click the link to WorldCat under “Find”)!

You can also perform searches by specific reviewers to see the ratings of a specific reviewer. Or, you can check out lists of recommended commentaries by respectable sources.

Rolfing’s recommended commentary lists

Rolfing staff put together two amazing lists of recommended commentaries, both of which are available on our website (Old Testament; New Testament). Be sure to check out these recommendations when collecting resources for your next paper!

Other seminaries

Just like our library has recommended commentary lists (above), most other seminaries do too. So, check out some other seminaries’ recommended commentary lists when you need another opinion.

Baker Academic’s commentary surveys

Baker Academic publishes two outstanding resources that provide a survey and analysis of top commentaries for each book of the Bible. We have them in our reference section and online as e-books.

Be sure to consult these!

Ask professors

Finally — I know this is crazy — but ask your professors. If they are teaching a class on Hosea, then they probably know a good deal about it, which probably means they know which commentaries you should be using. So, ask them. They’ll be glad to help!


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Student, Meet Thesaurus Linguae Graecae

Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG) is an online database of Greek texts stretching from Homer and reaching through to the Septuagint, New Testament, and early church leaders. Using TLG, you can perform various types of searches that prove useful in word studies and exegesis. In fact, many TEDS students are required to use TLG in New Testament exegesis courses. Significant benefits of using TLG in word studies include access to more comprehensive data and the ability to perform diachronic word studies in addition to synchronic word studies, e.g., limited solely to the New Testament’s use of a certain word.

You can access TLG at three computers in Rolfing Library: the two computers across from the reference desk and the computer across from the scanning station, next to the microfilm reader.

Once in TLG, you can perform searches by author, date, source, word (and lemma), or a combinations of these. And within lemma searches, you can even specify the search according to morphology (exciting, I know!).

Results of a search look something like this, with author, source (with locations), date, and some context provided:

TLG Sample Search Results

Many students use the LOEB Classical Library in conjunction with their findings. With the locations provided by TLG (e.g., book and line), you can easily locate these passages in the appropriate LOEB work. The LOEB collection can be found in the reference section (Ref. PA3611 .A14 1931 — Ref. PA 6156 .V6 A26x 2000).

Rolfing’s website also contains helpful tutorials for using TLG. And if you need further personal assistance, just come visit us over at reference! We’d be glad to help!

Kirk Miller is a Reference Assistant at Rolfing Library. You can contact Kirk and our entire reference staff at

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Surveying for Change

We’re humbled (and pleasantly surprised!) that a recent Scrawl article gave a welcome “shout out” to the library. The article, “Memo to the Next President,” gave recommendations about how to improve the university. The first priority considered school operations, and encouraged the administration to survey students in order to learn what they think needs to be improved. The author observed, “Here the library deserves a special shout out: they solicit input every year (and even try to beat their previous record of responses!). I suspect some suggestions are good, some have already been tried, and some are impossible. Simply having the data, however, allows them to create accurate metrics of quality, discern changing needs, and be on the lookout for industry best-practices.”

Discerning the needs of our patrons has certainly been the library’s goal in conducting its surveys. We used the results of our recent surveys to benchmark our services against other university libraries and to determine our strengths and weaknesses. These surveys were also valuable for discovering what students care about and what they want to see changed. In addition, more focused surveys allowed us to solicit specific feedback on possible projects and improvements.

The surveys have affirmed what we do well here at Rolfing, yet have also identified problems. Thanks to a recent survey, we discovered that students gave positive ratings to the service provided by librarians and staff. One patron commented, “The staff are always helpful, courteous and wonderful. Any improvement needed is more on the side of resources and services.” (Thanks, dear patron!) This and other responses suggested that resources and the library building were the greatest areas of concern. Our surveys confirmed that students want access to a greater number of books and journals, both in print and online. Patrons also desire a more pleasant study environment: better lighting, more numerous electrical outlets, a more stable temperature, comfier furniture, and an inviting yet studious atmosphere.


Our new study chairs!

As the Scrawl article noted, it can be difficult to make needed changes in response to feedback. One of the major limitations for the library has been budget issues — all these requests cost money (crazy, I know)! Despite our financial limitations, Rolfing staff has worked to find innovative ways to move forward and make some of the improvements you’ve requested. For example, we can’t afford to redo the lighting in the library, but we can (and do!) provide desk lamps for students to check out. Other improvements include our coffee machine, a new vending machine, and a scanner. We’ve also recently purchased new furniture: study chairs, “comfy” lounge chairs, and laptop tables. Recently, we partnered with the GSGA to purchase and install whiteboards in our study rooms. We do hear your requests, and we’re striving to make improvements — albeit small ones — whenever and wherever possible.

Your input is crucial in identifying what changes we should make. We continue to value your critiques and comments, especially as the world of libraries and higher education changes. As the Scrawl article noted, feedback is the best way for us to improve. We always appreciate your suggestions —  keep ’em coming!

Rebecca Miller is Head of Public Services at Rolfing Memorial Library. If you have any ideas to share, please post a comment below or email Rebecca.

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January Recommended Reading

Welcome to the new year – and the new semester!  As your winter break comes to a close and you are prepping for the next semester’s onslaught of work, we’d like to point out that we’ve put up new Recommended Reading displays. Something that I know is often difficult to do, but can help keep your mind sharp, is to continue reading outside of your course-required texts. This month features books in three categories: Martin Luther King, Jr., Graphic Design, and Gender & Sexuality. You’ll be able to read up on civil rights, reconciliation, web-design, typography, and issues of gender differences and roles. You can browse our print recommendations on the shelves as you enter and exit the library, and you can access e-books on these topics right here.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Speeches of Fannie Lou Hamer : To Tell It Like It Is 
Mississippi Praying : Southern White Evangelicals and the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1975
Civil Rights and the Struggle for Black Equality in the Twentieth Century : Freedom Rights : New Perspectives on the Civil Rights Movement   
Landmarks of the American Mosaic : Civil Rights Movement  
Robert F. Kennedy and the Shaping of Civil Rights, 1960-1964    
Courage to Dissent : Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement

Graphic Design

The Elements of Graphic Design : Space, Unity, Page Architecture and Type
Wed Design : A Beginner’s Guide
Pop : How Graphic Design Shapes Popular Culture
Street-Smart Advertising : How to Win the Battle of the Buzz
Digital Media : Technological and Social Challenges of the Interactive World

Gender Issues

Men and Women in the Household of God : A Contextual Approach to Roles and Ministries in the Pastoral Epistles
Manning Up : How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys
Children With Gender Identity Disorder : A Clinical, Ethical, and Legal Analysis
Sacrifice and Gender in Biblical Law
Recovering biblical manhood & womanhood : a response to Evangelical feminism