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ATLA Journals Database - user guide: Searching articles by Bible passages

How to make the most of the ATLA/ATLAS for your research and writing.

How do I search a Bible passage in ATLA?

Using the Scripture Search in ATLA/ATLAS journals database

ATLA/ATLAS offers the option to search for articles & essays which pertain to specific Biblical passages.

Once you are logged in (remember to create your own secondary account in EBSCO), look for the “Scriptures” link at the top of the screen:

How to do this kind of search

You will be dropped into a list that looks like this:

Navigate until you see the book of the Bible you wish to search, for example, Romans.

Once you find it, click on the word “Expand” to the right of the book of the Bible you will search:


Then look for the chapter of that Biblical book which contains what you wish to search.  At this point, do NOT click on “Expand” again.  If you do, it will only allow you to search one (1) verse at a time, such as ‘Romans 3:1’.  Instead, find “Chapter 3” under Romans, and click on “Chapter 3”.


You will then see the search results screen.  All items which have been tagged under “Romans 3” in the database are returned.  You can examine all of them or further limit your search at this point.



Why not type in my passage in the basic search box?

If you simply type in, as in this example, “Romans 3” in the basic search box instead of taking the steps outlined above, you will not find all the same references.  In this particular search, you would miss over one-third of the search results.  Your librarian can go into more detail with you, but trust us, to effectively use a Scripture search, you need to follow the steps above.

One other thing about Scripture searching in databases.  If you search only on Romans 3, without specifying particular verses, you will get all of the possible articles below:

  • Romans 3:1-31
  • Romans 3:5-20
  • Romans 3:1-20

If however, you tried searching for “Romans 3:1-31”, you will not be shown any articles indexed as “Romans 3:5-20”, because the system does not understand that ‘5-20’ is contained within ‘1-31.’  That’s just a limitation of the database.  Again, this is avoided if you follow the searching steps shown above.

Should I only search by Scripture passage for my Biblical studies paper?

Short answer: No!  The reason is that to get good results, you ought to search both by Scripture passage as well as search the main subject(s) dealt with in that passage (e.g., justification, sin, etc.).  That way you come at the passage from multiple angles and find more useful resources for your paper.