This paper explains how recent advances in NLP technology can be harnessed to search for allusions and influences. The algorithms that have been used in several recent projects in the Digital Humanities are briefly analyzed with the aim of determining how effective these algorithms are in detecting the variety of reference forms that were used in ancient literature. Using the lessons learned from this analysis, a generic NLP algorithm is presented, including a set of syntax rules for textual references. The algorithm is designed to be generic so that it can be used to detect any type of textual reference in any type of text (or even an oral allusion to an oral speech). Finally, the benefits of this approach are highlighted using the results from testing the algorithm on the Pastoral Epistles.