ASI Online Learning Course: The Queen of Sciences—Indexing Theology, Spirituality, and Religion

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The Queen of Sciences—Indexing Theology, Spirituality, and Religion

Three-Part Course with Kate Mertes

Although Thomas Aquinas referred to theology as “The Queen of Sciences,” it’s becoming a rather obscure branch of academia. Scholarly journals bemoan the distressing lack of denominational support and resources for serious theological texts, and theology is no longer the biggest faculty and department at most major universities. But, the readership for religion-themed books remains very high (one of the fastest-growing areas of the publishing industry, in fact) and there are numerous presses specializing in texts on religious topics. For indexers, this is an important field to consider.

Many indexers, though, are uncomfortable with books on religion, spirituality, and theology. They might feel they lack expertise and qualifications. If this is a topic you think you might be interested in, though, this webinar series is a great way to see if you should dip your toe in the water.

Three hour-long webinars will introduce you to indexing religious books; ponder the issue of faith, worldview, and doctrinal basis; consider the acquisition and use of specialized knowledge, some of which you may not know you even have; and we’ll finish with a practicum, looking together at a theological text and discussing how best to approach it.

When Thomas referred to theology as “the queen of sciences,” he was using science in the medieval sense of a body of knowledge. Theology is not hoo-doo or mumbo-jumbo; it’s a body of knowledge, and it’s open to anyone to acquire it.

The course was originally presented on October 13, 20, and November 3, 2021.

Course outline:

Session 1
Introduction to indexing religious material

  1. Why index religious texts?
    • Profitability
    • Interest and variety
    • Scarcity of indexers
    • Large numbers of religious books
  2. What is religion? what is theology? What is spirituality?
    • Religion
    • Theology
    • spirituality
  3. Worldview/doctrinal basis, compared to other texts
    • Public policy books compared
    • Scientific texts compared
    • Liberal arts texts: Marxist historians, feminist literary theory
  4. Different kinds of religious texts and their challenges
    • Academic theology
    • Philosophy of religion
    • Scripture
    • Scriptural commentaries
    • Ritual works
    • History and archaeology
    • Religion and literature
    • Historical documents
    • Historiography
    • Spiritual works
    • Language texts
    • Encyclopedias and dictionaries
    • Children’s works
    • Biography/hagiography
    • Legal texts
    • Comparative religion
    • Introductions to non-Western/non-standard religions
    • Apologetics/polemics
    • Specific religious schools (Thomism, feminist theology, liberation theology)
  5. Respecting what you index

Session 2
Acquiring and using specialized knowledge

  1. Personal background/bias
    • Cultural milieu in which you live
    • Personal religious background or lack thereof
    • Interdenominational indexing
    • Inter-Abrahamic indexing
    • Indexing outside of your belief/cultural system
    • Working within your own tradition
  2. Languages
    • Hebrew, Greek, Latin
    • Aramaic, Yiddish, Assyrian, Babylonian
    • Arabic
  3. Keeping history in mind
    • When was this book written?
    • What is its canonical status?
    • Why is the publisher publishing it?
  4. indexes locora
    • recognizing an indexable source
    • classifying indexable sources
  5. using reference materials
    • God Is Not One
    • SBL Handbook
    • Oxford Classical Dictionary etc.
    • Online sources
Session 3
Practicum on theological indexing

Download this document before our 3rd session:
An Account of the Life and Writings of St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons and Martyr: Intended to Illustrate the Doctrine, Disciplines, Practices, and History of the Church, and the Tenets and Practices of the Gnostic Heretics, During the Second Century, by James Beaven, M.A., of St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, and Curate of Leigh, in the County of Stafford. Published in London, 1841

  1. Title analysis
  2. Why is this book being indexed?
  3. Table of contents analysis
  4. Will it need an index locorum?

Please note: Attendance at the live sessions is not required. Registration entitles you to “on demand” access to the course and unlimited repeat viewings after the initial sessions have aired.

About our Presenter
Kate Mertes is sole proprietor of Mertes Editorial Services, providing indexing, information retrieval, and editorial expertise for complex, challenging projects in law and the humanities. Kate took her B.A. in medieval studies, a Ph.D. in medieval history, and a post-doctoral degree in theology, and after teaching at university level for several years moved into publishing with a stint at Oxford English Dictionaries. After nine years as a managing editor of indexing with Research Institute of America, a legal publishing company, Kate started her own business in 1998. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia. Kate served on the board of the American Society for Indexing (ASI), as president of ASI twice, and as conference chair for three years. Kate is also a founding member of the Institute of Certified Indexers.

Kate is also the author of Good Governance and Politic Rule: The English Noble Household, 1250-1550, and chapters in many of ASI’s publications on the indexing of legal, historical, and theological materials. She is a co-author, with Fred Leise and Nan Badgett, of Indexing for Editors and Authors. In 2013 Kate was the recipient of the ASI/EIS Award for Montesquieu’s Mes Pensées, and was given the Theodore C. Hines Award for services to indexing in 2014. In 2015 she received the ASI/EIS Award for The Joseph Smith Papers: Documents: Volume 3, February 1833 to March 1834, published by the Church Historian’s Press.

ASI members, please log in to the website for member pricing.

The rate for this 3-part course is $349 for non-members. You will have long-term access to the replays. If you have previously purchased from ASI, please use your email address on file. Guest

Once you have completed your purchase, please return to this page to access the presentations.

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