Guide for authors

This guide covers the standards expected in submissions, the sections to be included, and details of the submission process

1) Encyclopaedic virtues

We expect all articles to be models of:

  • Concision
  • Clarity
  • Rigour
  • Compendiousness

The articles should provide a comprehensive picture of the subject, guiding readers towards the best results of scholarship.  They should be constructed for:

  • Advanced undergraduates to use as significant sources.
  • Teachers of undergraduates, especially in the developing world, to develop curricula.
  • Postgraduates and established scholars in theology to use as introductions to a subject, especially suggesting further reading.
  • Scholars in adjacent disciplines (history, philosophy, etc) to come up to speed on theological topics.
  • Clergy and laypeople to gain an understanding of the state of academic theology.

Articles should be scholarly and balanced, surveying their subject dispassionately, and presenting both sides of significant controversies. Authors be transparent about their own beliefs, and fair and charitable towards others'. Treatments should be thematic rather than personal; the focus must be on the interaction of ideas, rather than the twists and turns of scholarly debate.

Authors may cite their own work (to limited extents), but should not use their articles to offer original research or interpretation not otherwise published, nor to reply to their critics.

2) Sections

2.1 Introduction

The introduction should set out the subject briefly.  It should suffice for a reader to determine whether he or she has found the right article and give a sense of the topics in the main body.

2.2 Table of Contents

These will become hyperlinks to the relevant sections and subsections of each article.

2.3 Main Body

Authors should decide on the best organization for their own articles. In general, themes are preferable to historical periods as subsections, except in clearly historical entries. The determination of theological knowledge by traditions and communities must be borne in mind, especially their role in generating spiritual practices and information from the data of the Scriptures.

Subsections should be numbered. In addition to the author's selection of subsections, the editors offer the following subsections as strong suggestions, to encourage comparability of articles:

2.3.1 Foundations: Scriptural bases

We expect all articles to engage with the foundations of their material. In the case of Christian theology, these will be Scriptural bases. Articles should engage with awareness of different modes of Scriptural usage through history, ranging from the oracular to the literary-historical. This section should include the key chapters or verses of relevance to the topic and should discuss their different interpretations in the case of controversy. It should probably appear near the beginning of most articles.

2.3.2 Traditions

We expect most articles to highlight how their content derives from, is conditioned by, and participates in the major traditions of theological thought, including both 'denominations' and theological schools, and to what extent traditions have been regarded as authoritative.

2.3.3 Scientific interactions

We request that all authors consider the ways in which their subject interacts with the sciences, for example by looking to the sciences for certain kinds of data or drawing certain conclusions with scientific implications. It may be that the best way to accomplish this will be a dedicated subsection.

Theology's interaction with the sciences extends across the full range of scientific disciplines. Authors therefore should feel free to draw on the natural sciences, such as an article on anthropology referring to biological evidence, as well as the social sciences, such as a treatment of sacrifice considering sociology or psychology.

Some authors may prefer to distribute their engagement with scientific evidence throughout their articles, in place of a single section. Equally, in some clusters the interaction with science will be given an article of its own, diminishing the need for other authors to consider it. In no case will the treatment of the interaction of science and theology as envisioned by the editors distort the underlying material of the article.

2.3.4 Spiritual information:  The Believer

We expect articles to include material on application to prayer, morals, or general attitudes to the divine. Authors should treat their subject’s upshot in the life and experience of the historical and contemporary believer

2.3.5 Spiritual information:  The Community

We expect articles also to include material on the formation of the religious community. What worship practices vary depending upon interpretation of article’s subject?  Which aspects of organization are derived from the article’s information?    The section should probably appear near the end of most articles.

2.4 Bibliography

Details of citation are discussed below.  The Bibliography should contain all texts cited in the article, as well as any which are important to the state of scholarship.  The Bibliography can be organized into subcategories at the discretion of the author.  Minimally, a distinction should be made between references reliable for scholarship (eg peer-reviewed or established texts) and helpful resources (eg online, non-critical editions).  Especially welcome are links to open-access work at stable URLs.

3) Style & process

Authors should use the Society of Biblical Literature Handbook of Style (SBLHS) 2nd edition (2014), available through JSTOR at https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt14bs6ct with something of a summary available at https://www.sbl-site.org/assets/pdfs/pubs/SBLHSsupp2015-02.pdf

  • Words in non-Roman alphabets should be followed by a transliteration according to SBLHS.
  • First person pronouns and formulations should be avoided.
  • Controversial claims by others should have an indication of their degree of acceptance in the field.
  • The author’s own controversial claims must not dominate articles to the exclusion of other points of view.  They may be included as ‘possible ways forward’ or other forms of suggestion.  If the framing of the article itself is necessarily controversial, authors should discuss this with the editors.

3.1 Citations

Citations should be in the ([Author] [date], [page]) format, without footnotes or endnotes, with the following provisos.

  • Reissued works and later editions should be cited including both the original and consulted date of publication eg (Kant 1781/2005)
  • Sources originally released as manuscripts (eg from before the era of printing) should be cited by author and title.  This may also be used for especially prolific authors who are close to the heart of an article’s content (eg Martin Luther in an article on Lutheran Christology).
  • Citations should be made as much as possible to text-internal organization (eg chapter & subsection numbers, in addition to page number) for the sake of those using different editions.
  • Authors should feel free to consult the editors if they are concerned that standard citation would be confusing.

3.2 Terms of reference

The Encyclopaedia editors will discuss the parameters of each article with its author, and together will agree on terms of reference for the subject.  The primary purpose of these terms is to minimize overlap between articles being simultaneously written. 

3.3 Submission

  • Articles should be submitted as MS Word files (.doc or .docx) with minimal formatting.  PDF files cannot be accepted.
  • Articles should be submitted through our online portal.
  • Authors will also receive comments and suggestions for revision from editors and reviewers through the online portal.

3.4 Editorial Process

Each article will pass through the following stages after submission:

  1. An initial check against the terms of reference by the subject editor, who may request revisions
  2. A double-blind review process with two peer reviewers, who may request revisions
  3. Submission of a revised manuscript
  4. Copy-editing and transformation into a web-appropriate format by Encyclopaedia staff
  5. Upload onto the web as a private page for the author to check
  6. Publication on the Encyclopaedia website