GUIDELINES FOR RESEARCH PAPER
DUE Dec 13th at 3 pm
Following the outline in your proposal (as refined with the comments of the instructors), your paper should compare YOUR OWN interpretation of TWO biblical texts with at least TWO types of scholarly interpretations (each often developed and supported by more than one scholar!), showing why these interpretations are LEGITIMATE and PLAUSIBLE even though they are DIFFERENT and arguing which one of these interpretations is the BEST for addressing the needs of the believers in your chosen context.
This is to be a "paper"; it must develop an argument defending a "thesis." It must therefore have an introduction, a body (argument), and a conclusion, supported by sources. It must be very well written, including being very well organized, in well constructed paragraphs with appropriate sub-headings, and with good transitions; making an excellent use of sources (all assertions clearly supported by reference to biblical texts -it is enough to include name of book [e.g. Matthew], followed by chapter and verses in the SBL format: e.g., Matt. 1:1-15 - and to good scholarly works -- the APA form [in text, author's name, page numbers; e.g. "(Blount, 127-129)" referring to a bibliography at the end of the paper] is best, because more succinct.
The thesis you are expected to defend (presented in an introduction that shows the importance of this issue; demonstrated in the body, and tightly argued in the conclusion) must follow either one of two forms, arguing either positively or negatively that:
"A particular interpretation of the chosen NT passages on a chosen ethical issue provides
EITHER the best (most helpful, constructive) teaching for specific Christian believers that you envision in a particular present-day context, both because it best conforms to basic Christian convictions ("loving God") and because it best addresses the needs of these believers and their neighbors ("loving neighbors")." (Note: Everyone can envision such Christians and Christian convictions, whether or not one is a Christian, as one does with believers and beliefs in other religious traditions.)
OR a most dangerous (destructive, oppressive, misleading) teaching for specific Christian believers in a particular present-day context, both because of the dubious basic convictions it presupposes (not "loving God") and because it is hurtful for these believers' neighbors ("loving neighbors") and for these believers themselves."
Length: Since your paper involves comparing three interpretations (presented by you and multiple scholars) of two NT texts regarding their three types of choices, and developed during half of the semester, you need space. For undergraduates, I believe a 10-12 double-spaced page paper is a reasonable length (three times 4 pages); but your paper should not exceed 15 pages. For Divinity School Students, 12-15 page paper seems reasonable, because I would expect an extended concluding sections: choosing one or another interpretation has a lot of implications for the pastoral ministry; but your paper should not exceed 20 pages.