Thursday, May 13, 2010

Journal Rankings for New Testament

PhD students often ask for advice on the top journals in the field. So here is the list, in three separate tiers, of the top eight journals in New Testament studies. This list uses three published ranking lists (the only three that I am aware of) and my own personal ranking:

The three published ranking lists are:
  1. European Reference Index for the Humanities (ERIH) (published in 2007) (A, B, or C)
  2. Excellence in Research for Australia Initiative (ERA) (published in 2010) (A*, A, B, or C)
  3. J.A. Fitzmyer, An Introductory Bibliography for the Study of Scripture (Rome: PIB, 1990), 12-21 (which marks the top journals with a double asterisk).
The personal ranking is simply a PMH top five. Personal opinion based on experience, discussion, rejection rates (when known), editors.

The top tier is simply those journals ranked at the top of all four lists:
NTS (**) [ERIH: A] [ERA A*] [PMH5]
ZNW (**) [ERIH: A] [ERA A*] [PMH5]
The second tier are those journals lacking a single top rank:
JBL (**) [ERIH: B] [ERA A*] [PMH5]
Rev. Bib. (**) [ERIH: A] [ERA A]
Biblica (**) [ERIH: A] [ERA A*]
CBQ (**) [ERIH: A] [ERA A*]
The third tier is the one other journal lacking two separate top rankings:
Nov. Test. [ERIH: A] [ERA A] [PMH5]
This list works well - the Fitzmyer ratings are very dated in my opinion (although for Biblica and CBQ confirmed by both other systems) but they are balanced by my own opinions. It is nice to have eight on the list because it leaves two spaces free so that you can personalise your own top ten. Clearly it is not (!) open for discussion.
[I got some links from Mark Goodacre]


  1. Where does JSNT fit in this scheme?

  2. In recent years NovT has been better for TC. I think that it is hard to rank journals which cover more than NT (e.g. JTS, Biblica) alongside exclusively NT journals. If you are looking for exclusively NT journals then my four would be NTS, NovT, JSNT and ZNW.

    JSNT has a great editor.

    It should also be stressed that 'top' does not really correspond to 'hardest to get into'. It is not particularly hard to get published in NTS and probably harder to get into JTS.

  3. JSNT [ERIH: B] [ERA A]

    I.e. one level down from the top in both ERIH and ERA, not in PMH top 5, and not ranked as ** in Fitzmyer. So four points down overall.

    Personally I would have it in my top ten (but not in my top five). Probably it is gradually climbing in perception (and many people might rank it above Biblica and CBQ in level). They have a good editor, interesting issues (esp. with reviews and responses on topical books), seem very good on copy-editing and production.

  4. I actually have an article in the most recent JSNT (but not on textual criticism): see

  5. "Hardest to get into" is difficult to measure. JBL is tough (accepting 1 in 7 in 2005); NTS rejects 75% (accepting 1 in 4); JSNT rejects 80% (accepting 1 in 5. These get factored into their PMH score. Others I don't know about (few publish data; but editors sometimes speak to the issue).

  6. These are not TC specific. For TC one would probably want to squeeze one or more of the following into their top ten:
    BJRL; ETL; Fil. Neot.; TynBull; TC; Vig. Chr.

  7. Many thanks for this; both the framework and specifics are of interest.

  8. Another consideration when submitting is the length limit. I recently submitted a 13.000 words article to JTS (hope I will be one of the few lucky). I found that JTS and HTR, for example, accept longer submissions. Even JSNTS but as exceptions relating to the significance of the contribution.

  9. What other things should be considered when thinking about submitting an article?

  10. Scholarly perception rankings are only one of numerous relevant criteria. I usually also think about:

    How confident am I that my article is really good? [Because every submission to a top five journal risks rejection.]

    Has the editor said anything positive? [Editors hang out at conferences and have been known to request articles - probably three or four times in my experience - you don't have to say "yes", but it sure smooths the way.]

    Have I had previous good experiences with the same journal?

    Is there a natural "fit" with a particular journal? [As a response to something in that journal, as a presentation at a certain conference, an acceptance of certain methods or subjects or styles.]

    Is this a journal I want to support with my academic work? [E.g. an institutional journal, a denominational journal, an evangelical journal, etc. I have published, at last count, ten things in the Tyndale Bulletin.]

    Is there some "rush"? [Some journals have sort queues at various points in time, or may even "front" a topical or controversial piece - if you know the editor]

  11. An additional factor which needs to be considered is the "exposure" factor which each journal affords. For example, JBL clearly belongs in the first tier not only because of its high quality, but also because it is the flagship journal of the premier biblical society (SBL), with its huge membership. Since the members of SBL get a free online subscription and a reduced print subscription, JBL surely has a much larger audience than NovT, etc. For this reason JBL is almost certainly the top biblical studies journal. The European journal ranking system which scored JBL a "B" rather than an "A" is quite simply inaccurate, and I have read elsewhere that the European Reference Index is inaccurate in other fields as well. The exposure factor is also an advantage which NTS enjoys over NovT since NTS is the journal for SNTS. CBQ is the journal for the CBA, etc. Also journals which publish for a larger audience (e.g. including OT, early Christian studies outside of the NT, theological topics, etc.) are preferable. Not only do these journals give broader "exposure," the quality is often higher because submissions from multiple subfields leads to greater competition. Following this same logic RB and ZNW probably have a much lower readership since they have foreign titles in a scholarly world where English currently predominates. Plus RB does not make their articles available electronically as pdf files so access is more limited. On the other hand JTS has a tremendous breadth of scholarship and a large readership. When including the exposure factor (in addition to the other things mentioned) I would rank the journals as follows for those publishing on NT topics, and I would consider all of these journals to be first-rate and a clear notch above other decent journals such as Neot, TynBul, and BBR:

    1. JBL
    2. JTS
    3. CBQ
    4. NTS
    5. NovT
    6. ZNW
    7. RB
    8. JSNT

    Other top quality journals on broader religious topics which NT scholars should consider are:

    1. JAAR
    2. JR

    On early post-NT Christianity:

    1. JECS
    2. VC

  12. Good thoughts Anonymous.

  13. In science they also track "Impact Factor" - but I am not aware of any studies of this for theology/humanities journals.

  14. Great post and discussion! Could a similar ranking effort (and discussion) be done for the top monograph series?

  15. Please check your links again. Half of them did not lead to the intended destination.

  16. Someone told me JBL take ca. 2 yrs from the time of submission to get things into print. Is that true?

  17. Where would journals which often contain NT-related material belong, such as the Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha (JSP), Journal of Jewish Studies (JJS) and Jewish Quarterly Review (JQR)?

  18. Where would you place Neotestamentica on the spectrum of NT journals?

  19. Some helpful recent info on JBL and CBQ at