REL 327 – Research Paper Guidelines and Assessment Rubric
In order to assess the degree of your overall progress over the entire semester, you are expected to write an exegetical paper for your Research Paper Assignment. The final exegetical paper must be a minimum of 3000 words in length.
“Exegesis” literally means “drawing out” in Greek. In contemporary biblical scholarship “exegesis” means the exposition of a biblical text by explaining its original meaning in terms of the author’s purpose and the original audience, frequently with the goal of applying scripture to the task of theology and/or to ministry, homiletics/preaching, spirituality, life, worship and/or other praxis (practical theology). The opposite of “exegesis” is “eisagesis,” or “reading into” the text what one wants to “make the text say,” and ignoring the original meaning of the text being employed.
In writing this exegetical paper, you will choose a passage from the following list of texts of the Pauline Letters in the New Testament. You will then research and write an analysis of the text in order to: (a) discover and present what the passage meant to its original hearers in its original context and (b) interpret this original meaning theologically and practically for the reader today. The exegetical paper should primarily be an exploration into, discovery of, and explanation of the original meaning of the text, and the defense of the explanation using both extra-textual and intra-textual evidence. Extra-textual evidence includes what we know about the historical and contextual situation behind the passage, what we know about the life and work of Paul in general (if applicable), the oral and written sources underlying the passage (if applicable), the genre of the passage, what situation occasioned the writing of the passage, Paul’s/original author’s own situation, beliefs and purposes for writing (what the author was trying to accomplish by writing the letter), as well as the original audience and their situation. Intra-textual evidence includes ideas, topics and themes in the larger book as a whole, literary and narrative structure, rhetorical structure and literary devices, as well as an analysis of wording and grammar of the specific passage. This means that the exegetical paper should not be an interpretation without any evidence. The exegetical paper must justify and defend the interpretation of the literal meaning presented, using the course content materials, and bibliographical literature consulted, relevant to the passage.
This also means that any theological conclusions or practical applications of the text should come first and foremost from the results of the process of exegesis and interpretation just outlined. Spiritual meanings and practical applications of the text must be founded upon the literal meaning of the text. Jumping ahead to theological and practical conclusions without a proper exegetical foundation essentially divorces the Bible from the people to whom it is addressed in the present.
Sources for the Final Research Paper:At the end of the fourth module, you willsubmit to the instructor, a text and bibliography/works cited list or peer-reviewed scholarly articles that you plan to reference in your paper. The exegetical paper must contain a bibliography/works cited list including at least five credible academic sources from peer-reviewed scholarly articles or books. For distance learners, such sources can easily be obtained in electronic form from Saint Leo University’s Cannon Memorial Library and the instructor’s LibGuide. No websites other than those used in the required readings, are acceptable sources for the exegetical paper unless they have been vetted and permitted by the instructor. Every source in the bibliography must be used and cited at least once in the final paper.
Although the exegetical paper is due near the end of the course, you are encouraged to start work on the paper as early as possible and continue working on it throughout the semester. Below is a table indicating the Research Paper assignments, their due dates, and method of submission.
Possible Texts for the Exegetical Paper:
Romans 2:1 – 29
2 Corinthians 11:1 – 33
Thessalonians 3:1 —
Romans 3:1 – 31
Romans 4:1 – 25
Galatians 3:1 – 29
Thessalonians 4:13 –
Corinthians 7:1 – 40
Galatians 4:1 – 31
Corinthians 11:17 – 34
Ephesians 2:1 – 22
Thessalonians 2:1 – 17
Corinthians 15:1 – 34
Philippians 2:1 – 18
Timothy 2:1 – 15
Corinthians 5:1 – 21
Colossians 2:1 – 23
Timothy 3:1 – 17
1 Thessalonians 2:1 – 20
Titus 2:1 – 15
Paper Organization:If a paper cannot be outlined, the organization is likely to be weak.Paragraphs should have a topic sentence and paragraphs should be related to an overall purpose expressed through a thesis sentence. The author of an exegetical paper is trying to justify an interpretation of a passage of scripture. Thus, one good approach is to state the main point or points of the passage in an introductory paragraph, along with a brief synopsis of how the paper intends to prove that this interpretation is the correct one. Then, since it makes sense to work chronologically through a passage of scripture, each paragraph or larger section of the paper would then explain exactly how specific verses or sections of the passage contribute to the overall main point or points being made by the original author. In doing so, the author could incorporate and use the relevant historical background and biblical scholarship material relevant to understanding the passage’s original meaning. Again, this should involve using extra-textual evidence in terms what we know about the historical and contextual situation behind the passage, the oral and written sources underlying the passage, the genre of the passage, what situation occasioned the writing of the passage, the original author’s own situation, beliefs and purposes for writing, as well as the original audience and their situation. This would also include intra-textual evidence, which includes ideas, topics and themes in the larger book as a whole, literary and narrative structure, as well as an analysis of wording and grammar of the specific passage. Finally, the conclusion would reiterate the overall main point or points of the scripture passage, and briefly summarize the main reasons and evidences used to support it.
The Superior Paper:
• Historical-Critical Content:Includes a thorough and completely accurate discussion ofthe historical-critical content relevant for understanding the passage, including: (1) the date, authorship, original audience, provenance, historical occasion, purpose, agenda and main themes of the biblical book as determined by modern biblical scholarship; (2) a discussion of oral (form criticism) and written sources (source criticism) if relevant to the passage; (3) a discussion of the editing of the sources (redaction criticism) if relevant to the passage; (4) a discussion of the author’s perspective and interpretation of the material narrated (narrative criticism) if relevant to the passage; (5) a discussion of the literary devices used if relevant to the passage; brings this historical information to bear insightfully and creatively on the original meaning of the text
• Ideas: Excels in assignment (applying the exegetical method to particular Biblicalpassage); able to limit material so that it is manageable; appropriately identifies and defines key terms; able to identify complex issues; may acknowledge limitations or contradictions in secondary literature; understands and critically evaluates sources
• Structure and argumentation: Able to guide the reader through a progression ofideas or chain of reasoning; utilizes appropriate transitions from one idea to another; conclusions flow clearly from the argument presented, deals with the key issues–no glaring points left out
• Research: Utilizes both primary and secondary materials and includes a range ofsources from both academic journals and books; supports arguments with sufficient evidence; the evidence reflects an awareness of multiple views; the bibliography is complete
• Practical Theological Application: Draws out the contemporary theological andpractical implications of the text in an insightful, creative way; soundly grounded in the exegesis
• Style: Engages reader; displays nuances; chosen words display a precision of meaning;language and style appropriate for an academic paper
• Mechanics: Almost entirely free of grammatical, punctuation, spelling, and formattingerrors
• Sources: Has significantly more academic sources than the minimum requirement,citing each source at least once in the body of the paper
• Length:Significantly over the minimum length (word count)
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