How to Use Zotero to Properly Cite Grammars in SBL Style

You might think that citing a grammar according to the SBL Handbook of Style would be pretty straightforward.1 And you’d be right, but there are several special cases to account for.

1. Cite section numbers wherever possible.

Instead of citing a grammar by page number, you should cite by section number wherever possible to give the most precise reference. You’ll designate a single section with “§” and a section range with “§§”.

2. Cite grammars by abbreviation where applicable.

For many common Hebrew and Greek grammars, the SBL Handbook specifies an abbreviation by which to cite a given grammar (§8.4). You may find others also when you check IATG3.

For instance, Gesenius-Kautzch-Cowley is cited simply by the abbreviation “GKC”. Blass-Debrunner-Funk is cited simply as “BDF”.2

The full bibliographic information for these sources then goes in an abbreviations list and should not appear in the bibliography.

3. Adjust your reference manager’s output accordingly.

If you use reference manager software, you’ll want to consider how best to get that software to produce the abbreviated references you need for cases like this. If you use Zotero, you have two main options.

a. Enter footnotes manually, or use the prefix and suffix fields.

If you need to cite only one or more grammars only by an abbreviation(s), you can simply add a footnote and type the appropriate text without going through Zotero’s “add citation” process.

If you are citing a grammar(s) and another source(s) in a Zotero footnote, you can simply add the appropriate grammar citation text to the prefix or suffix fields of your existing citation, depending on whether you want the grammar citation to come before or after the other source(s) you are citing.

So, for instance, when adding or editing a citation, you could type “BDF §458;” into the prefix field to add a citation to Blass-Debrunner-Funk §458. Zotero would then build this text into the footnote so that the footnote will look as it should.

The upside of this method is that it is quite straightforward. The downside is that any sources you cite in this way won’t appear in any bibliography Zotero generates for your document.

SBL Press doesn’t want sources cited by abbreviation in a bibliography anyhow, but in some cases, you might find that you want this (e.g., requirements from a professor, journal, or volume editor).

In that event, your best option will be to edit the bibliography that Zotero prepares to add any sources you’ve included in your footnotes simply by adding their abbreviations as text. Since you entered those citations simply as text, Zotero won’t “know” to add these sources to your bibliography unless you make those changes directly.

b. Install the current SBL style in your reference manager.

Other ways of getting this output automatically from Zotero may be on the horizon. But things are really quite easy if you have the current version of the SBL style installed.

Not long ago, you would have needed to install a custom variant of the main SBL style or edit the style yourself. That’s no longer necessary, however. The changes necessary to cite grammars and other sources by abbreviation are now part of the main SBL style.

You can get the style from the Zotero repository directly. Or if you drop your name and email in the form below, I’ll drop you an email about that style. I’ll also include the style for the Catholic Biblical Association, which uses many of the same abbreviations as SBL style.

Once you have the style installed, for any source you need to cite by an abbrevation, just add Annote: [abbreviation] in that Zotero resource’s “Extra” field. So, for instance, for Blass-Debrunner-Funk, you would add Annote: BDF.

The upside of this method is that you can cite grammars by abbreviation while using the Zotero add citation dialog.

The downside is that you might need to edit your bibliography, if you have one, to remove these sources and move them to an abbreviation list (per SBL style’s requirement).

But you will probably know pretty well which few sources are cited by abbreviations. So, you should be able to edit your bibliography as needed pretty quickly to relocate these sources.

Conclusion

In the end, citing grammars according to the SBL Handbook of Style is quite straightforward.

If you want to cite them while using a reference manager, the process may be a bit more detailed to set up since the manager may not have a mechanism for handling largely custom citation patterns like the abbreviations SBL Press specifies for common grammars.

But with some careful thought about how you want to approach citing these kinds of resources, you can certainly streamline them into your existing citation process.


  1. Header image provided by SBL Press

  2. Also important is SBL Press’s discussion of citing Herbert Smyth’s Greek Grammar

Daily Gleanings: Greek Articles (1 October 2019)

Newly available from SIL is The Article in Post-classical Greek, edited by Daniel King. According to the publisher,

The collection presented here offers interpretations of the functions and grammar of the Greek article (ὁ, ἡ, τό) from a variety of perspectives, including generative grammar and discourse analysis, along with studies that make use of text-critical and diachronic data. Together, these supply readers of Greek with a thorough understanding of the functions of the article and constitute a starting point for further research efforts.

HT: Mike Aubrey

Daily Gleanings: Greek New Testament (2 August 2019)

Zondervan’s “Critical Introductions” series volume on 1–2 Thessalonians, by Nijay Gupta, is now available. Nijay comments,

About seven years ago, Mike Bird approached me with this project. He inspired me to do two things: (1) research and write this volume on the level of something in the Anchor-Yale reference series and (2) read every academic writing on 1-2 Thess in English written after 1984 (and the most importance works in German and French). Bottom line: this is not your grandparents’ critical introduction.

For more information on the volume, see Nijay’s original post. To get a sense of the approach Nijay took to writing the book, see his interview in my “Pro Tips for Busy Writers” series.


KoineGreek.com has released videos for Mark 1–7. The subtitles are given in Greek according to Robinson and Pierpont’s text. The narration is according to Randall Buth’s pronunciation system. Thus far, I’ve just watched the video for Mark 1 and found it quite interesting. I especially enjoyed the camera angle in the shot of John the Baptist being ἐνδεδυμένος τρίχας καμήλου. 🙂

HT: Peter Gurry

Daily Gleanings: Open Access References (15 July 2019)

The Lexicon of Greek Personal Names (LGPN) is attempting to

collect and publish all ancient Greek personal names, drawing on the full range of written sources from the 8th century B.C. down to the late Roman Empire.

These are being made available in an online database.

HT: AWOL


The Bibliotheca Polyglotta Graeca et Latina (BPGL) is working to

document[] the multilingual diffusion of the Greek literature of antiquity, showing how the concepts of Greek and Roman thinking historically has influenced thinking in a global context, first in a Latin medium, then Syriac and Arabic, as well as German and French, and then to some extent the whole world.

HT: AWOL

Daily Gleanings: Book Reviews (28 June 2019)

Mike Aubrey discusses six recent and forthcoming books in the area of Greek linguistics.


Mark Ward reviews Dirk Jongkind’s Introduction to the Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge (Crossway, 2019).

About half of the review summarizes the book. Approximately the other half interacts with ch. 7’s proposal of a biblical-theological view of textual transmission.

For the full review, see Mark’s original post.