RELIG 2203.01 Ethics in the New Testament: Discipleship and Community
Professor: Jaime Vidaurrázaga, PhD.
GUIDELINES FOR THE RESEARCH PAPER
As you know, the fourth element to be considered in the calculation of your final grade (30 % of it) is a research paper on the application of the interpretation of a specific pericope (a passage from the Bible) taken from any book in the New Testament to the argumentation about one of today’s moral dilemmas. I expect that you will find these guidelines useful as you chose a topic, conduct your research, and write your paper.
The paper should be between 5 and 7 pages long (doubled-spaced, 12 pt. font, 1 inch margins). In your paper, you are required to use at least ten references to specific texts in the Bible (these do not have to be references to ten different passages). Every time you refer to a specific passage in the Bible, you must include a specific citation (name of the book, chapter number, verse number) according to the format used in class, e.g. Rom 1:26; Lk 15:11-12; Mk 5:1—6:7, Mt 5-7, etc.
Regarding bibliography, you are required to consult at least:
- one article from a one-volume biblical commentary,
- three terms from a biblical dictionary, and
- two articles from scholarly journals or chapters from different books (one of these may be replaced by a chapter from a commentary on the biblical book from which you chose your pericope).
You are expected to document all bibliographical references in footnotes, following the MLA or the Turabian systems. You are also required to list your bibliographical sources at the end of the paper following the MLA or Turabian systems (this list does not count as part of the 5 to 7 pages of your paper).
SECTIONS REQUIRED IN THE PAPER:
1) Exegesis of the passage on which the paper focuses. The proper exegesis of a biblical passage requires addressing the following four aspects of it:
- Historical context (Who wrote it? What did he/she write? When was it written? Where was it written? Why was it written? To whom was the message originally addressed? Are there any particular historical/cultural circumstances in the original setting of the text that help us understand its message better?)
- Literary context within the book to which the pericope belongs, and within the larger narrative of the New Testament in the case of a narrative text, or within a body of similar texts to which this pericope is related (Does this passage refer to any other Bible passages? Is this passage part of a larger literary tradition? Are there any relevant “parallels” to this passage in other biblical books?)
- Formal considerations (literary genre, structure, movement)
- Detailed analysis (characters involved, meaning of terms used, basic plot if it is a narrative or basic point if it is part of a theological argument– should be 20 % of the paper)
2) Application of the exegesis of the passage to the argumentation regarding a current ethical dilemma. The proper application of the exegesis to a specific ethical dilemma requires the following four aspects:
· Identification/delimitation of the dilemma/issue addressed (What is the issue? What are the main aspects involved in the moral consideration of the issue? What are aspects NOT relevant to the discussion of this issue?)
· Identification/acknowledgement of the interest/motivation guiding your exegesis of the selected text (no exegesis is completely unbiased and it is better to acknowledge one’s biases and to account for their influence on one’s conclusions than to pretend they do not exist)
· Application of the conclusions from the exegesis to the clarification of the issue or to the formulation of a solution (this should be 15 % of the paper)
· Acknowledgement of other positions regarding the issue and, when possible, refutation of their use of Scripture or of other sources.
0. Introductory paragraph(s) (containing the identification of the issue to be addressed, a brief justification of the choice of the passage on which the paper focuses, the acknowledgement of the interest/motivation for writing on this topic, and an initial formulation of the hypothesis guiding the research)
1. Text of the passage studied should be included in the paper, single spaced and in a smaller font (a good rule of thumb for the selection of a pericope is between 5 and 20 verses, a whole paragraph in the NRSV version).
2. Historical context
3. Literary context
4. Formal considerations
5. Detailed analysis
6. Synthesis/conclusion (articulate your findings in an interpretation of the text and its core meaning)
7. Application of the results from the exegesis to the argumentation regarding the issue selected
8. Acknowledgment of other interpretations/positions with regard to this issue (when possible refutation of them)
9. Final conclusion to the paper as a whole
OTHER ASPECTS TO BE EVALUATED:
In addition to the content specified in the suggested outline, the following aspects will be considered in the evaluation of the final paper:
- Clarity and focus
- General organization of the paper
- Personal perspective
A WORD OF ADVICE ABOUT THE SELECTION OF A PERICOPE:
Select a kind of text that agrees with your personality. Most people find it easier to write a paper on a short narrative from the Gospels because they can focus on the description of the characters involved, comment on the narrative setting, and on what the main character’s interaction with other characters reveal about his/her personality. The analysis of the characters in one of these passages also may help you understand the kind of relationships between women and men, between rich and poor, or between Jews and Gentiles in the social setting in which the passage was composed. In general, it is also easier to write about the application of the conclusions from studying one of these texts to a current dilemma because one only needs to think in current circumstances in which the main character’s attitudes displayed in the passage would inspire a religious response to the circumstances faced by the reader today.
However, others prefer a doctrinal passage, such as we find in Paul’s letters, and in some of Jesus’ sermons/teachings in the Gospels. If you like arguments and if you would like to use a particular text to challenge or defend current practices or teachings of a particular Christian community through a reference to some of the earliest and most authoritative texts that Christians consider as inspired by God, then you may want to look for a pericope of this kind (e.g. Jesus’ teaching regarding divorce and remarriage in different Gospels, Paul’s view of the relationship between Christians and political authorities in Rom 13, etc.)
Finally, if you select one of Jesus’ parables, for example, in your paper you can combine the analysis of the narrative (characters, relationships between them, etc.) with the analysis of Jesus’ intention in telling such story (closer to a particular doctrine or theological point).
|Due By (Pacific Time)||03/18/2015 12:00 am|
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