An invaluable resource

NTA_Matthews _Stroup
Faith & Religion / Jesuit, Catholic | May 15, 2017

(L-R) New Testament Abstracts Assistant Editor Christopher R. Stroup and Editor Christopher R. Matthews (Lee Pellegrini)

Now entering its seventh decade, New Testament Abstracts (NTA), a publication of the School of Theology and Ministry, has become the definitive source on current literature devoted to research of the New Testament and the times in which it was formed, and an invaluable resource for scholars, librarians, clergy, and students around the world.

Founded at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in 1956, NTA – which recently marked its 60th anniversary – came to Boston College when Weston re-affiliated with the University in 2008 and the STM was established. At that time, STM Professor Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., and Matthews served together as editors, until Fr. Harrington’s death in 2014.

NTA, currently edited by STM Research Professor Christopher R. Matthews, annually publishes more than 2,000 abstracts and book notices of scholarly publications on New Testament topics and related fields across the ancient world.

The abstracts and book notices are written by Matthews and NTA Assistant Editor Christopher R. Stroup, who cover about 1,500 articles, from some 500 periodicals, and nearly 700 books each year. Though the abstracts are in English, the original works span a range of languages from English, German, and French to Dutch, Italian, and Spanish, among others.

Topics covered by NTA go beyond what might automatically come to mind when thinking about the New Testament. In addition to abstracts on literature about the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and the Acts of the Apostles, there are abstracts on literature related to archaeology, the Judaism of the Second Temple period, Rabbinics, and the Greco-Roman World. 

Matthews, whose doctorate is in New Testament and Christian Origins, says the field of New Testament Studies “takes a healthy and full outlook of the ancient world from Alexander the Great to Constantine.”

Matthews and Stroup scan book catalogs, new publications, and other resources to locate books for inclusion. They also receive some 200 journals and review approximately another 300 periodicals made available to them from the Theology and Ministry Library. In turn, most of the books and journals Matthews and Stroup survey are subsequently donated to the TML.

Matthews and Stroup cover about 1,500 articles, from some 500 periodicals, and nearly 700 books each year. The abstracts are in English; the original works span a range of languages from English, German, and French to Dutch, Italian, and Spanish, among others.

NTA is published three times a year and is available in print in the US and abroad through subscriptions administered by the Catholic Biblical Association in Washington, DC. It is also available online, through a partnership with the American Theological Library Association, via EBSCO Publishing. The digital archive dates back to 1985 and contains more than 50,000 article abstracts, 19,000 book notices, 61 software abstracts, and more than 1,600 review abstracts. 

The online database has opened up NTA to a whole new audience, according to Matthews. When a researcher taps keywords in a database search box, the results can include NTA even if the researcher is not familiar with the publication or would never have thought to search NTA on that topic. 

NTA’s reach will expand further as a result of a recent request from the Society of Biblical Literature which has sought permission to associate NTA’s previously published abstracts to articles in earlier issues of the society’s signature publication, the Journal of Biblical Literature. 

Another project in the works would make pre-1985 volumes of NTA available in pdf versions accessible in the public domain. 

Matthews says he looks forward to the day when the process of producing abstracts and book notices can be streamlined to the point of publishing the material almost immediately after it has been produced, which will further enhance the pertinence and utility of NTA.

 

--Kathleen Sullivan | University Communications