With over 30,000 documents in the open-access section, the Theology and Religious Studies collection focuses on two main areas: Biblical Studies and History of Religions. Sources occupy a significant place in the collection and support the academic study of the three monotheistic religions.
The Riponne site houses a spirituality and religion collection aimed at the general public.
The Biblical Studies area is the jewel of the collection and attracts numerous specialists in the field. It features the various versions of Biblical texts alongside an extensive collection of Old and New Testament studies and commentaries, as well as Jewish and Christian apocryphal literature.
Archaeological and palaeographical documents on the ancient Near East and the various Semitic religions form a historical and cultural basis for the study of Biblical texts. Specialists also have access to a wide range of resources for the study of Semitic languages, from Hebrew to Arabic, Sumerian to Syrian and including Akkadian, Ugaritic and Aramaic.
The history of religions covers the three monotheims (Oriental religions are included in the Oriental languages collection. While the history of Christianity occupies a dominant role, resources on the history of Judaism and Islam are likely to expand over the next few years.
Sociological and psychological approaches to religion and new forms of spirituality, as well as historical and anthropological approaches to the myths and religious rites of Western and non-Western societies, are also documented.
Numerous resources in moral, practical and dogmatic theology and ecclesiology provide dedicated support for theological and pastoral education.
The sources available focus specifically on the study of the three monotheistic religions: In brief, they include:
- the main sacred texts (the Bible, Torah and Koran)
- the Christian apocrypha, intertestamental literature and the Qumran scrolls
- Greek and Latin writings by the Church Fathers
- Christian theological sources from the Middle Ages to the modern and contemporary period, with a particular emphasis on the Reform.
- the body of Jewish legal, homiletic and exegetical texts (the Midrash, Mishna, Talmud and Tosefta)
- historical chronicles in Arabic from the Muslim mediaeval world, supported by biographical dictionaries
- sources of Sunni Islamic law (Ḥanafism, Ḥanbalism, Mālikism, Shāfiʻism), Koranic exegeses and Sufi sources in Arabic (coming shortly)
Our databases, bibliographies and electronic encyclopaedias for theology and religious studies are accessible from a dedicated menu.
All digital theology and religious studies journals can be accessed through the Renouvaud catalogue.
Members of the university community can access these resources from home by logging in to the UNIL secure network.
We supply the Documentation Centre of the Observatory for Religions in Switzerland (ORS, Anthropole 5035), which compiles studies of religion in Switzerland, as well as sources and primary documentation on churches, denominations and new religious movements (Scientology, Order of the Solar Temple (OTS), Mahikari, Baghwan, etc.), including pamphlets, tracts, speeches and more. Books in the ORS are only available for use in the library.
Users should also be aware of books from the former Bibliothèque des Cèdres, which are an integral part of our collections, but were withdrawn from open access in 2010, following the closure of the Maison des Cèdres. These books, which originally formed the library of pastors at the Église évangélique libre of Vaud Canton. The collection will be made available again in 2026, following works to extend the Unithèque site.