(Citation Index to the Bible)

Eugene Garfield, Documentation Consultant

…The research scholar, however, is quite often interested in tracing very specific ideas rather than general topics….


… The citation index principle applies to the legal literature (Shepard’s Citations), scientific literature, patents, and reports filing. As a further demonstration of the broad application of this principle, the author proposes to compile a citation index to the Old Testament….


… The citation index provides the user with the bibliographical descendants of original works, thereby permitting the scholar to trace very carefully the history and development of specific ideas…

Presented at
Penn-Sherwood Hotel, Philadelphia, Pa.
November 2-4, 1955

Citation Index to the Old Testament

The title of this brief talk might better have been: "Citation indexes: new starting points in bibliographical research"


… E.g., reference [in a Book] might be made to Edison's first patent on the light bulb. The page on which that had appeared would provide a new entry in our citation index under the patent number in question. In another chapter of the book,  a reference may even have been made to a verse of the Bible. This would provide an entry in our citation index under the verse in question. Finally, reference may be made to an article in the Journal of the Patent Office Society. Again this would add an entry under the appropriate section of the citation index where articles in that journal were listed…


… A second approach would be interpretive citation indexing. Based on the subject matter disclosed in the text, the indexer himself can provide citations that relate passages to what has been published elsewhere. Thus, a chapter in a novel may obviously be based on a story in the Old Testament. It is not common practice to make formal citations in such works. And in non-fiction works the author may not be aware of the need for such a citation. This type of interpretive indexing is to be compared with exegesis…


I have made these allusions to the Bible intentionally. Mr. W. C. Adair has already discussed in American Documentation, Shepard's Citations, a citation index known to every lawyer. I have discussed citation indexes for science and patents elsewhere, Science 122, 108-11 (1955)]. I should like to discuss briefly the possible application of the citation index principle to biblical research. Probably no single book has received as much study as the Bible. Yet, as a student of library science I was quite amazed to learn of the fantastic bibliographical deficiencies of biblical research, in spite of the thousands of people working in this field, past and present. I don't intend to go into the reasons for these deficiencies, which may be better known to some of you. However, I could not help but be drawn to the attractive idea of a citation index to the Bible as being of inestimable aid to the secular as well as clerical scholar.


There are many indexes, commentaries, concordances, etc. that have been compiled--a good many representing life-time projects. None of them provide the information to be found in the citation index…[which] is a constantly growing bibliographical aid, not affected by the vicissitudes of language, and like the concordance can be of permanent value.


In the citation index to the Old Testament the user will find listed for each verse, according to the numbering found in the King James Version, all those books, articles, poems, quotations, titles of books and plays, etc. that had been based on the verse in question. The simplified citation index will only contain citations where the verse in question had actually been cited. I don't think it is necessary to indicate how such information could be used to advantage. If an interpretive citation index were compiled, almost amounting to a formalized Bible commentary, citations would be added even though the verse in question had not been cited, but was "implied". This index will include many secular sources not covered by existing indexes…


The standardized King James notation for chapter and verse makes such an undertaking feasible, since such a notation system is ultimately needed in a large index. Thus, it can be seen that the technique of the citation index can be employed to advantage in a variety of ways. I certainly think it warrants careful investigation. The specialist will best visualize its application once the principle is completely thought out. In closing I should like to indicate one or two examples that will illustrate concretely some of the advantages of the citation index to the Bible.


George Sarton, in his History of Science, when discussing certain tools used in Egypt alludes to Joshua 5:2, "At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time" (p. 235).


Of interest to any biblical scholar is not only Sarton's discussion of instruments but also his comment that the translation, in the Authorized Version, "sharp knives" is wrong;  the correct meaning of harbot zurim is “flint knives”.


This is further borne out in correlating the corresponding passage in the new Thomson Septuagint: "And at that time the Lord said to Joshua, Make thee stone knives of the hardest flint, and having again a fixed abode circumcise the children of Israel" (p. 363).


(Garfield E.  Citation index to the Old Testament. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Documentation Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 2.4, 1955.)




Other fragments regarding that presentation:


George Sarton: The Father of the History of Science. Part 1. Sarton’s Early Life in Belgium


...The first paper that I ever presented on the subject of citation indexing, given in Philadelphla in 1955, concerned citation indexes to the Bible. It was fascinating to trace the history of a point Sarton made in his book, A History of Science. Ancient Science Through the Golden Age of Greece, concerning a passage in the Book of Joshua, which alludes to the translation of harbot zurim...


(Essays of an Information Scientist, Vol:8, p.241-247, 1985. Current Contents, #25, p.3-9, June 24, 1985)




The Science-Religion Connection


...I’ve long had a fascination with scientific connexions to the Bible. I even presented a paper in 1955 on a citation index to the Bible. Since then, I’ve never even found the time to examine the references to the Bible to be found in the Science Citation Index® and the Social Sciences Citation Index®, much less other scholarly monographs...


(Essays of an Information Scientist: Science Reviews, Journalism Inventiveness and Other Essays, Vol:14, p.97, 1991. Current Contents, #25, p.5-13, June 24, 1991)



ASIS National Convention and the Information-Conscious Society


...I can recall the first time the American Society for Information Science (ASIS) met in Philadelphia in 1955. I presented a paper on citation indexes to the old Testament, a project which, to my knowledge, has never been taken up by anyone...


(Essays of an Information Scientist, Vol:1, p.96-97, 1962-73. Current Contents, #13, April 1, 1970)




Full Text Searching Systems Just Around the Corner?


...In 1955, I suggested the potential value of a citation index to the Bible. Such an index would show where Biblical passages had been cited, implicitly or explicitly, in commentaries or other works. My interest in this application of citation indexing was recently revived when I learned about a project underway at the Weizmann institute of Science in Israel. Under the direction of A.S. Fraenkel, the project is studying the use of so-called Full-Text Searching (FTS) in the retrieval of Hebrew and Aramaic legal texts…


… In Hebrew and Arabic the form of words may undergo rather violent change, violent to the lndo-European linguistic eye. For example, the plural of the loan-word film in Arabic is aflam. This kind of thing makes FTS in a Semitic language extraordinarily more difficult than in English. It helps explain why a straight concordance to the English Bible can be quite useful, while a similar concordance to the Hebrew Bible is of little if any use at all…


(Essays of an Information Scientist, Vol:1, p.479-480, 1962-73. Current Contents, #36, p.5-6, September 5, 1973)






…My original interest in citation indexing was in its application to the humanities literature—if we can agree that the history of science is a division of the humanities. The first paper I ever presented in the subject of citation indexing was on citation indexes to the Bible. It was given in 1955 at a meeting of the American Documentation Institute in Philadelphia. The paper demonstrated the potential value of a “citation index to biblical references" found in monographs on the history of science...


(Reprinted in: Essays of an Information Scientist, Vol:6, p.623-640, 1983)




“Current Comments” On the Literature of the Social Sciences


...In the early days I suggested that the Science Citation Index® (SCI®) might be used as a retrieval system for the social sciences. Some ten years before that, I had been interested in the possibility of a citation index to the Bible, and although it may not be generally known, the ancestor of present Current Contents® editions— Current Contents of Social and Management Sciences®—was running in 1955. In short, information services for social scientists were among the earliest of ISI®'s activities. For a period, partly due to the momentum established by the Genetics Citation Index, we became more involved in the natural sciences; perhaps also my interest in the social sciences was a little before its time…


(Essays of an Information Scientist, Vol:2, p.550-555, 1974-76. Current Contents, #34, p.5-10, August 23, 1976)




Retrospective on the Sociological and Historical Uses of Citation Data at ISI


Eugene Garfield, Ph.D., President
Institute for Scientific Information

Meeting on Use of Citation Data in the Study of Science

Baltimore, Maryland, April 1, 1975

…There is one exception. In 1955 I reported on my interest in compiling a Citation Index to the Bible. Like so many other projects it never saw the light of day and for practical reasons I even gave up the luxury of including references to the Bible when we refined the procedures for producing the Science Citation Index. Maybe now that we are doing social science material this decision will be reversed…




Epilogue: The Future of Citation Indexing


...Another development important to the expanded use of citation analysis is the Arts & Humanities Citation Index. The concept of producing a citation index to the arts and humanities literature dates back to at least 1955. In November of that year, I presented a paper at the American Documentation Institute Annual Meeting in which I outlined the concept of a citation index to the Bible that would be useful in studying the interaction between science and the humanities. The Arts & Humanities Citation Index should facilitate and stimulate new studies of that critical but little understood relationship…

Useful Links (first two in Spanish):

Research on Intelligent Design

Tasters of the Word (YouTube), videos recientes: "Astronomía y Nacimiento de Jesucristo: Once de Septiembre Año Tres A.C.", "Estudio sobre Sanidades" (en 20 episodios), "Jesus Christ, Son or God?":

Tasters of the Word (the blog, with: "Astronomy and the Birth of Jesus Christ"):