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I have a book that discusses Catholicism. I would like to know if there are any established resources that advise on listing religious names in indexes, where the norm is reversal of surnames and forenames. For example Christ, should it be:

  • Christ
  • Jesus
  • Jesus Christ
  • Christ, Jesus (THINKING DEFINITELY NOT THIS)

Also Popes:

  • Pope John Paul II
  • John Paul II
  • John Paul II, Pope (THIS ALSO SEEMS WRONG)
  • Paul II, Pope John (GETTING SILLY NOW)

Any advice would be welcome.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Cascabel, Jason Bassford, Edwin Ashworth, JJJ, Chappo Jun 10 at 0:10

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Welcome to EL&U. If you are asking for resources, you will probably do better on meta...but as it stands this question is unclear. – Cascabel May 26 at 16:00
  • I have looked at the other books I have to hand (although this is rather outside my norm). The problem is they use a footnoted form and no index, thus avoiding the issue. I have one book, Theories of the Mind by Stephen Priest that lists Christ, Jesus. But I have a block on this because Christ isn't a surname, it's a title and it strikes me as wrong to treat it as such. – sketchyTech May 26 at 18:53
  • You need a style manual, e.g., Chicago Manual of Style. – Xanne May 26 at 21:46
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    @Xanne, more precisely, one needs the style manual that is appropriate to the publishing project one is engaged in. If that style manual provides no answer, one needs to consult with the others involved in the project. The question has no definite answer outside a specific publishing project. On the hand, if the only thing the OP wants is a confirmation that 'Christ, Jesus' is an erroneous way of doing it, that is easy to answer: yes, it is wrong, because Christ is not a surname. – jsw29 May 26 at 22:37
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    a confirmation that 'Christ, Jesus' is an erroneous way of doing it, that is easy to answer: yes, it is wrong, because Christ is not a surname But the index isn't provided to prescribe the proper form of address for people mentioned in a book, it is there to help readers find references to them, and Christ, Jesus may serve that purpose. – High Performance Mark May 27 at 7:42
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The Chicago Manual of Style, sixteenth edition (2010) addresses the issue of indexing the names of "monarchs, popes, and the like" as follows:

16.37 Indexing monarchs, popes, and the like. Monarchs, popes, and others who are known by their official names, often including a roman numeral should be indexed under the official name. Identifying tags may be omitted or expanded as appropriate in a particular work.

{Examples:} Anne, Queen; Benedict XVI [pope]; Elizabeth II [queen]

So if you are in a position to follow Chicago's advice, you might add an index entry for Pope John Paul II as

John Paul II

or

John Paul II, Pope

or

John Paul II [pope]

As for the index entry for Jesus, I imagine that the simplest approach would be to use the entry

Jesus

and to add a cross-reference to that entry in a separate entry for Christ, if doing so seems useful:

Christ. See Jesus

However, Words into Type, third edition (1974) suggests a somewhat different test for judging how to handle entries for a category of people it identifies as "sovereigns, princes, writers":

Index under the full name if the person is habitually so spoken of.

[Examples:] Kemal Ataturk, Mark Antony, Omar Khayyam.

So if your book (and the people in your milieu) habitually speak of Jesus of Nazareth as "Jesus Christ," Words into Type seems to endorse rendering the index entry as

Jesus Christ

Other style guides that I checked had little to say about this issue, but I think that Chicago's advice is sound and at least gives you a reference point for treating such names consistently.

  • Thanks for your answer, there is a good deal of logic here and has helped me to clarify some thinking on this. – sketchyTech May 27 at 16:08
  • Do you have any reference that might confirm the 'Jesus Christ' suggestion? – Mitch May 27 at 20:21
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    @Mitch: No I don't. And the one potentially applicable reference that I did find (outside Chicago) invites a different treatment of an index entry for "Jesus Christ." From Words into Type, third edition (1974): "Index under the full name if the person is habitually so spoken of. [Examples:] Kemal Ataturk, Mark Antony, Omar Khayyam." So if your book (and the people around you) habitually speak of Jesus of Nazareth as "Jesus Christ," Words into Type seems to endorse rendering the index entry as "Jesus Christ." This is a significant enough point that I think I should add it to my answer. – Sven Yargs May 27 at 21:10

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