The goal of each 5-page paper will be to craft and defend a scholarly thesis about a historical theological text. For these papers, you should first do some research to select a text that is of interest to you from the time period. For example, for the first paper, you must select a theological text from the Early Church. If in doubt about a particular text, please ask me. Once you have selected a text, claimed it on the Google Drive sign-up sheet, and gotten it approved by me, you should read the text and do research about it. On the basis of your study, you should come up with a good question and scholarly thesis about the text or some part of it. The in-class discussion questions are good practice for this. A thesis is just the answer to a good discussion question. A good thesis will be one that advances the scholarly conversation around an interesting question. Your paper, then, will be an argument defending and supporting your thesis. If you have any doubts or concerns about whether you have come up with a good thesis.
Your grade will be based on the following five areas. The weight of each category will depend on each individual paper and how good the paper is overall. You should strive to excel in all of the following areas:
1) Grammar and Writing – Is the paper readable and relatively free from grammatical mistakes and typographical errors Is the paper well-written (If you have trouble with these areas, please visit the writing center, which you can find out more about below).
2) Structure – Is the paper logical Does it flow Are the ideas well connected Is there a good introduction, with a clear statement of the thesis and a ‘roadmap’ for the paper Do I feel lost while I am reading it, or like you are just rambling to take up space Is there a good conclusion that summarizes what you have said and claimed
3) Content – How good is your analysis of the text Did you select a good text Have you appropriately limited the scope of your paper to a topic you can deal with in 5 pages How much research did you do and how well do you incorporate it to support your claims Is the research scholarly (Do not just do a Google search. Use published books and scholarly journal articles. The ATLA Religion Database on the Library Website is especially helpful.) How good are your examples and illustrations
4) Argumentation – How strong is your thesis How well are you able to defend your points of view How strong are your arguments Do you consider, anticipate, and respond to counter-arguments and perspectives that are not your own Do you fairly represent any opposing views Are you able to maintain a respectful tone even toward those with whom you disagree
5) Insight – Does the paper have an element of creativity, poetic synthesis, clarity of thought, or an element of truthfulness Does it have an x-factor Is it impressive Are you able to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about and inspire your readers’ confidence in you