Sources Bibliography Orientation

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"McGrath numbers" are the basis of the organization and use of the Sources bibliography. They may seem a little tricky, but they’ll make sense once you get a little practice. They come from Alister McGrath, T. F. Torrance: An Intellectual Biography (1999). McGrath's bibliography in that book was based on Torrance's own copy of his vitae. We thank Alister for permission to use his numbering system here. 

If you know the McGrath number from Alister’s book, then the version we use is fairly obvious: just precede it by the publication date, like this: 1988-489

In other words, #489 in McGrath’s bibliography was published in 1988, so on this website it is #1988-489.

Now, one can search for #1988-489 by entering "1988-489" in the general search box on the website, and the original record will come right up. Or, there are several even faster ways to go to it, one of which is just to change the url:

If you append the revised McGrath number after then the browser will go right to it.

As it turns out, #1988-489 is the original edition of The Trinitarian Faith. The record for any item in its original edition is important, because that’s where we put all the general info about the work. Records for later editions give only specific info about that particular edition, and link back to the original edition for general info.

If you go to the #1988-489 page, you'll see there is also a table of contents field. It contains links to chapter records. Numbers for chapters and other sections of a book are usually made just by adding a letter of the alphabet after the number for the work as a whole. You can see from the Contents field for The Trinitarian Faith that it uses letters from “a” through “i”. (By the way, we don’t use a lower case "L" because it looks too much like a one, so we just skip from "k" to "m." But now we’re really diving down into the weeds.)

As an aside, it may be appropriate to include McGrath numbers in actual footnotes and bibliographies of published articles whenever there is ambiguity in the source under discussion, especially for those items that were often revised and republished in similar but not identical forms, and for those which were described incorrectly by Torrance in his vitae and therefore appear in an incomplete or inaccurate manner in the bibliography of McGrath’s book. Perhaps a comparison with the field of the history of science may illustrate this principle: scholars habitually cite Johann Kepler's works by their "Caspar" number; and works of Charles Darwin by their "Freeman" number. Both Kepler and Darwin published so many works with similar titles and in multiple editions that some kind of numbering system allows scholars to be unambiguous about which source they are describing. In this regard, the modified McGrath numbers used here may be helpful. Along with the other information the bibliography records provide, the Sources bibliography of this website — in which every item has been verified by inspection — is a significant contribution to scholarship made collaboratively by the TFT Fellowship.

Next: Explore the Guided Practice Tutorial #5 (devoted to Sources); read the McGrath# FAQ; survey the various links under the Bibliography tab; or explore the About the Bibliographies pages of the Help section (see right sidebar).