Historical Organization of the Bibliography

Relations among Jews, Christians, and Muslims span many centuries, and issues affecting these relations today go back three millennia. Historical periodization is always subject to the whims of past or contemporary historiography as well as the perspectives of the works at hand. Assignment of events to some ‘time’ will shape meanings by cultural context. The three interacting cultures here have experienced and recount their histories differently. Inevitably, these periodizations are tantamount to interpretation.

An author’s perspective and direction of argument of course plays an essential role in periodization. In assigning a work to a period, the bibliographer depends upon the argument made within the work about its context.

The subject of Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations ranges broadly across both historical time and non-historical analysis. When a work is either not fixed within a typical era or intentionally spans multiple eras, the record is “meta-historical” while it retains meaning across time. Such a work is often assigned in this bibliography to the “Contemporary” period, particularly if the work is a secondary source (because the periodization work most often reflects a “modern-day” interpretation).

Source Type as a Category
Each record in the database is identified as one of several types of historical source. These source types, as used in this database, are defined here.

Primary sources reflect a ‘first generation of publication.’ Generally, they are information captured as close as possible—in the language and the idiom—to the moment and location of the historical event of interest. Examples of primary sources are personal speeches, interviews with witnesses, records of judicial testimony, letters, memoires, diaries, certain ‘certified’ documents, autobiographies, fiction novels (as evidence of an author’s perspective). Archeological evidence, art works, and soil-samples may be primary sources when used to reflect human interaction (as with pottery sherds), although their interpretation must be considered an example of secondary evidence. An important and very common characteristic of primary evidence is its lack of awareness of the issues/concerns of the researcher. The information from primary sources has its own context and validity and yields answers to the researcher only under careful scrutiny. Norms for evaluating primary evidence are rigorous and keenly contested by researchers.

Secondary sources interpret, evaluate, and synthesize meaning derived from primary sources. Secondary information about an event of interest is by definition removed from the moment of the event and its location. Secondary sources are monographic and often reflect a focus derived from today’s interests. Examples of secondary sources are newspaper articles, periodical articles, non-fiction books, directed studies, monographs of any kind, research reports, biographies, most types of information from television and radio—certainly including news ‘programs’ excepting live and unedited personal interviews. Unlike primary sources, secondary sources are usually shaped by issues and must be evaluated within the context of those issues.

Tertiary sources summarize evaluations achieved elsewhere, usually derived from secondary sources. Tertiary sources, because of their summary character, are least useful for ‘raw’ research. Examples of tertiary sources are textbooks, encyclopedia articles, and content-oriented reviews of research (written to summarize research progress). Tertiary sources are usually shaped by the presumed interests of the target audience for which the summary is compiled. Research Support works are aids to the specific task of research. Examples are publications of bibliographies. Support Science works are auxiliary to historical methodology. Examples are works of numismatics, onomastic, and prosopographical method.

-Jan Phillips, 2015