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Theology Guide: Searching Orbis

A guide for conducting research in Theology at the Yale University Divinity School Library.

Searching by Subject

The Subject search option is used to retrieve records using Library of Congress (LC) Subject Headings. The LC Subject Headings are terms or phrases that have been designated as the standard word or phrase for every subject.

For example, if you were doing research on doctrinal theology, you would not want to put doctrinal theology in as your subject, because the designated LC Subject Heading for this topic is actually theology, doctrinal.

Often, if you put in the wrong subject heading, Orbis will let you know what the correct subject heading is for your topic.


Orbis will also suggest alternative subject headings and will provide headings for more specific subdivisions of the subject.

Theology Subject Headings

Although the subject heading

  • Theology

will find general works on Theology, the subject heading

  • Theology, Doctrinal

will find works that focus on Systematic and Doctrinal theology.

The terms Theology and Theology, Doctrinal can also be further narrowed in various ways. Some of the more common terms used to narrow the search are:

  • Theology,Doctrinal--History
    • --Early Church
    • --Middle Ages, 600-1500
    • --Modern Period, 1500-
    • --16th century
    • --17th century
    • --18th century
    • --19th century
    • --20th century
    • --Introductions
    • --Popular works

The term also subdivides geographically in the following way

  • Theology, Doctrinal--Denmark

Subject Headings that will get you to general reference works on theology include:

  • Theology--Dictionaries
  • Theology--Indexes
  • Theology--Abstracts
  • Theology--Encyclopedias

Some other helpful subject headings are the following:

  • Bible-theology
  • Black theology
  • Calvinism
  • Covenant theology
  • Death of God theology
  • Dialectical theology
  • Dogma
  • Empirical theology
  • Eschatology
  • Feminist theology
  • Freedom (Theology)
  • Homeland (Theology)
  • Mediation between God and man-- Christianity
  • Minjung theology
  • Philosophical theology
  • Princeton theology
  • Process theology
  • Teleology
  • Theodicy

If you are looking for works by specific theologians, subject headings can also be helpful. For instance if you are interested in finding works by Karl Barth use the following form:

  • Barth, Karl 1886-1968--contributions in natural theology
  • or

  • Barth, Karl 1886-1968--theology


Keyword Searching

If you don't know what the LC Subject Heading is for a particular subject, you can try doing a Keyword search to locate works on your topic. A Keyword search is broader than a Subject search, in that you are searching for your search term in every part of the record.

search by keyword

Once you've found a work doing a Keyword search that corresponds to your topic, click on the record and look at the Subject Headings; you may see the appropriate subject heading listed, and then you can click on that subject heading to find other works on that topic.


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