Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning Launches New Bibliography

Collaboration across the University of St. Thomas and with interreligious scholar Dr. Jan Phillips has yielded a new extensive online research tool: the Jan Phillips Bibliography of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – and their Encounters.

The bibliography, which is free and accessible to anyone, is a compilation of sources across history, including books, articles and periodicals, that reference interreligious engagements. Phillips taught courses on Jewish history, Islamic history and Jewish-Christian encounter at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul for 20 years, and began compiling a database of interreligious sources to help in teaching his classes.

Phillips, who also received a Master of Science in software engineering from St. Thomas, reached out to the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning with the hope of placing the database online so that it would be accessible to interreligious students and scholars across the globe. (Note that Jay and Jan are not related.) Partnering with IRT, Phillips and Hans Gustafson, associate director of the Jay Phillips Center, tinkered with the tools and technology to make the bibliography as accessible and as comprehensive as possible for users.

The bibliography, with 39,000 entries, contains Phillips’ original annotations, as well as a guide advising how to use the bibliography.

Gustafson highlighted the importance of the bibliography for students.

“From an instructor’s point of view, it’s nice to have an online resource because students are so online driven,” Gustafson said. “(It’s an) online resource where I know they will get reputable sources instead of going to Google.”

Phillips will continue to sift through sources to add to the bibliography, going through some 350 periodicals per year.

“(A) bibliography has to maintain currency or it becomes irrelevant,” Phillips said.

He has grand plans for the extension of the bibliography, hoping it will become a global network for anyone who wishes to participate, including religious students, scholars and researchers.

The software and knowledge that IRT picked up through this endeavor also will benefit St. Thomas in other ways: It will be easier for other interested parties across campus to place databases online. Eric Larson, academic technology consultant and IRT lead on this project, said the successful collaboration on this project was what made it particularly interesting for him.

“It’s hard to find the time to dream, let alone to find the time to partner up with people to dream together and make the dreams a reality,” Larson said. “I think we’re going to see more and more things like this project.”

Phillips will demo the bibliography at the Jay Phillip Center’s symposium, “Christian Faith in a Multifaith World,” on Oct. 12-13 in James B. Woulfe Alumni Hall in the Anderson Student Center on the St. Paul campus. For other questions, contact jpcdatabase@stthomas.edu.