School of Divinity Hosts Ambitious Theological Encyclopaedia

Theology has been taught continually at St Andrews since at least 1140, and the intervening centuries have seen countless developments in the various relationships between individuals and their faiths. Academic discussions of these issues, which cut to the heart of what it means to be human, are frequently couched in specialist terminology and complicated, interrelated ideas. The resulting complexity is difficult enough for theologians to master and can leave the subject opaque to scholars in related disciplines, masking the importance and influence of theology on philosophy, literature, history, and other fields.

The School of Divinity

A team at St Mary’s College (the School of Divinity) is building a free-to-access, online encyclopaedia of theology, an up-to-date and peer-reviewed academic resource that engages with the best of theological scholarship. The St Andrews Encyclopaedia of Theology has been in development since 2019 and will ultimately incorporate all major religious traditions, aiming to become the definitive resource of its field. Led by the Principal Editor, Dr Brendan Wolfethe editorial team consists of Senior Editors, who are established scholars of international prominence, and Academic Editors, researchers of many traditions based in St Andrews.  The project is supported by the largest grant ever secured in the School, totalling nearly £3.4 million from the John Templeton Foundation. 

The project is committed to building an accessible resource supporting readers both inside and outside of the academy. The encyclopaedia aims to present topics of theology from an emic perspective, while explaining technical terminology and specialist language for a non-specialist audience. It will serve as a significant resource for advanced undergraduates, postgraduates, and established scholars, pointing to reliable further reading and providing an overview of the current state of academic theology.

At roughly 12,000 words per entry, the Encyclopaedia covers vital topics to a level of detail greatly surpassing other free repositories.  The Encyclopaedia will be of particular use in parts of the world where library provision is limited.

Seton, the mascot of the School of Divinity

The St Andrews Encyclopaedia of Theology benefits from the extraordinary breadth of knowledge resident in the School of Divinity, which furnishes a scholarly community for the project’s editors. Entries are written by experts from around the world and each undergoes rigorous peer review and editing.

A few early-access articles were made available earlier this month, with additional articles set to be released regularly as the Encyclopaedia expands. In line with its ambitious target to cover all major religious traditions, these articles will soon expand beyond Christianity. Commissioning is well underway in Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism, while groundwork for Hinduism is being laid. Visit the Encyclopaedia here and be sure to check back regularly as it expands in the coming months and years.