How to write a religion paper
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How To Write A Religion Paper. By Adam Rosseau, Writing Consultant Edited by the UWC Staff. Table of Contents. Determining Style Doctrinal/Theological Papers Christian History Papers Exegetical Papers Formatting a Religion Paper Conclusion. Determining Style.

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How to write a religion paper l.jpg

How To Write A Religion Paper

By Adam Rosseau, Writing Consultant

Edited by the UWC Staff

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Table of Contents

  • Determining Style

  • Doctrinal/Theological Papers

  • Christian History Papers

  • Exegetical Papers

  • Formatting a Religion Paper

  • Conclusion

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Determining Style

  • Not all “religion” papers will be written exactly the same.

  • The three primary styles of Religion Papers that will be encountered are:

    • 1. Doctrinal/Theological

    • 2. Historical

    • 3. Hermeneutical/Exegetical

  • Course Outline and Class Description will determine style.

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Doctrinal/Theological Papers

  • Systematic Theology- Coherent, topical examination regarding issues pertaining to the Christian Faith (ex. Justification, Predestination, Atonement)

  • Historical Theology- Examination of the formation and articulation of the theological ideas of an historical person or group (ex. Augustine’s view of the Church)

  • Biblical Theology- Comprehensive examination of the theology articulated in the Bible (ex. Sin in Genesis 3, Jeremiah 2, Romans 1 et cetera.)

  • Comparative Theology- Examination of the theological positions of two or more opposing groups (ex. Christian v. Muslim view of God)

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Writing a Doctrinal Paper 1

  • According to the requirements of the class, determine a topic. Examples: Trinity, Attributes of God (love, justice, sovereignty, omniscience, perfection, Person and Work of Christ or the Holy Spirit, Communion…)

  • Determine a Thesis or Argument based upon the chosen topic. Example:In Communion, the body and blood of Jesus Christ are present in, with, and under the bread and the wine.

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Writing a Doctrinal Paper 2

  • Finding Information

    • Searching Resources

      • Possible Resources: Computer Databases, Internet, Books, Journals, Ecumenical Councils, Creeds, Confessions…

    • Printing/Making Copies

      • After printing, highlight relevant information

      • Paraphrase important information in the margins

    • Cite each resource in a bibliography (Probably in Turabian Format)

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Doctrine Paper 3

  • Introducethepaper with a bold, broad, interesting, universal statement and move toward a narrow, identifiable statement of theargument. This statement of argument is called a Thesis.

  • Prove the thesis with Scripture, sources, and reason.

  • Provideviable answers for conceivable arguments against the thesis.

  • Conclude the paper with a short restatement of the thesis and identify its broader applications and implications.

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Christian History Papers

  • First Step- Research.

    • Discover events of interest.

    • Learn what scholars say pertaining to these events.

    • Analyze their observations and develop a thesis or argument.

    • Possible Resources; books, journals, internet, databases.

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Christian History Paper 2

  • Second Step- Writing

    • Introduce the paper with a broad sweep of the event or person researched.

    • Determine an argument based upon the sources. (Example: John Wycliffe impacted the Protestant Reformation by providing a precedent for vernacular scriptures, articulating primordial Protestant doctrine, and formulating a Protestant Ecclesiology.)

    • Prove the argument from sources.

    • Conclude the paper with a restatement of the thesis of the paper and perhaps briefly discuss present application.

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Hermeneutic/Exegetical Paper 1

“Exegesis” comes from the Greek word for “to lead out.” The purpose of an exegesis paper is to “lead out” the original meaning of a biblical text.

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Hermeneutical Paper 2

  • First Step- Pick a section of verses in Scripture which is connotatively ambiguous. (Most of the Bible fits this parameter.)

  • Second Step-Research. Possible sources include:

    • Commentaries, (Word Biblical and New American are great)

    • Greek/English Lexicons (NT), Hebrew/English Lexicons (OT)

    • Word Studies

    • Confessions

    • Books

    • Articles…

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Hermeneutical Paper 3

Third Step- Writing

With reference to the format of a paper, a professor’s word is law. However, if no format is specified, organizing the paper into subcategories is remarkably helpful.

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Hermeneutical Paper 4

. Introduction- Introduce the text and briefly explicate the obscurities of the selected text.

  • Setting- Date/Authorship/Recipients/Occasion/Surrounding Culture.

  • Structure- Genre/Form (Diatribe, Epistle, Gospel/Linear, Rhetorical)

  • Syntax- The way the sentences are put together - This is where one would go through the text and grammatically diagram the parts of speech and determine the modifiers.

  • Semantics- The meanings of the individual words in the sentences. Identify the words which create interpretive difficulty and study them. How many times are they used in the Bible? How are the words in question used in other contexts?

  • Summation- Based upon the information gathered above, what did the text originally mean?

  • Significance- Given the original meaning, how might one apply this text today?

  • Conclusion- What was discovered concerning this text by means of exegesis?

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Formatting the Paper

  • Religion courses commonly use Turabian style for source citation. Check with the professor regarding his/her preferences.

  • The Writing Center can help with any citation style.

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  • Writing a Religion paper can be intensely satisfying and personally beneficial.

  • It is imperative to remember to prove the point in an academic fashion. Do not simply preach from experience or hearsay.

  • When discussing all matters of religion remember the motto of the Reformers, “ad Fontes! – Back to the Sources!”