As any student can attest, research can be a difficult but rewarding venture. My research generally follows a common pattern: after my own exegetical work, I begin the task of gathering “conversation partners” (ie. sources). This step can often be daunting for those new to a particular field or even new to the research process itself. Questions like “what if I leave out some authoritative source?” or “has my topic been exhaustively covered in some old monograph somewhere?” can often plague the minds of a careful researcher. For this reason it is good to have some “go-to” resources handy.
One such resource for me is the IBR (Institute of Biblical Research) bibliography series. The purpose of these works is to compile and evaluate works in a particular field of biblical studies (Pentateuch, Jesus, Old Testament Introduction, New Testament Theology, ect.) in an easily accessible format for the student or researcher.
I have greatly benefitted particularly from the volume on Prophecy and Apocalyptic, compiled by D. Brent Sandy and Daniel M. O’Hare. This book is a wealth of information on the background, literary features, and interpretive issues in prophetic/apocalyptic literature.
The bibliography is divided into two sections (Prophecy and Apocalyptic), with each section further arranged by resources on: 1) Information and Orientation; 2) Definition and Identification; 3) Conception and Communication; 4) Composition and Compilation (Prophetic section only); and 5) Transmission and Interpretation. Each segment contains lists of important works, summarized by the authors with the major contribution of the work identified.
One additional benefit for most students will be the emphasis on literature in English. While many significant works on prophecy have originated in German and French, the authors focus on books published , or at least translated, into English. For those who have not brushed on their research languages, this feature can save time while simultaneously sparing you the guilt of omitting works that appear important but are not accessible. We all know that Google Translate can only take you so far.
Of course, as with any work of this nature, the book can be outdated before it was even released. Since its publication in 2007, more research has been done in each area addressed by the volume. Regardless, the resources included in this bibliography provide a good starting point for a researcher. Gaining a handle of the standard works on a particular topic is always a good starting place. There is no doubt that, in some cases, this work can save students and researchers alike a significant amount of time performing complex database searches and shelf browsing. As I once read in a review of another monograph, “if this resource is not on your shelf, it is in the wrong place.”