Posted: April 5th, 2015
three major questions
Three Major Questions
The Old Testament repeatedly addresses crucial questions about life. Three key questions we
are focusing on in this course are: Who is God and what is God like? What does it mean to be
human? How do God and humans relate? As we read, think, and write about the OT (and ANE
texts) in this class, we will constantly keep these questions in view. To help you examine and
synthesize your understanding of how the OT asks and answers these questions, you will write
an essay that addresses one (1) of these questions.
How should you go about doing this? First, select the question you wish to answer. Second,
identify texts in each of the four (4) parts of the Christian OT canon—Pentateuch, Historical,
Poetic/Wisdom, and Prophetic books—that address this question. Even though each question is
broad, you should propose and defend a narrow thesis that partially answers the big question.
This means that you should focus on texts that answer the question by means of a single idea
or theme (e.g., answering the question of what it means to be human by examining passages
that deal with the characteristic of free will). Third, study what each text says in answering the
question. Pay close attention to how the text’s context (i.e., the historical/biblical situation that
surrounds or stands behind the text) and genre (i.e., the text’s narrative [e.g., plot and
characterization] or poetic elements [e.g., imagery and parallelism]) help you understand the
text’s message and, thus, its answer to the question. In this process you may consult peerreviewed
articles or biblical commentaries on your passages and/or question. Fourth, create a
formal outline of your essay to clarify your question, synthesize your ideas, and arrange your
material in a way that directly and coherently addresses and answers the essay question with a
single, focused argument. Finally, after reviewing and refining your outline, write and edit the
The essay will address one (1) of the three major questions and be 1,800-2,000 words in length
(a bibliography or works cited page must be included if additional books or articles are
consulted, but does not count toward the word count).
To answer this question, you must use biblical passages from each of the four (4) parts of the
Christian OT canon.
The paper may use relevant secondary sources and document them appropriately. These
sources can be books, articles, or essays in journals or magazines that are found in print or fulltext
online format on the library’s online databases. You may not use websites unless approved
by the professor.
If the paper contains any plagiarism, it will receive zero points. To avoid (un)intentionally stealing
another person’s work and passing it off as your own, place quotation marks around any direct
quotes and cite the source. Also cite paraphrased material or borrowed ideas/data.
The paper’s format, citations, and bibliography or works cited page must follow The Chicago
Manual of Style (CMS) or Modern Language Association (MLA) guidelines. For examples and
sample papers, see http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/.
Books in the Library:
For specific topics in the OT, begin by consulting these books on reserve:
-Coggins, Richard. Introducing the Old Testament. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
-Goldingay, John. Key Questions about the Christian Faith: Old Testament Answers. Grand
Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010.
-Rogerson, John W. Theory and Practice of Old Testament Ethics. Edinburgh: T & T Clark
-Rosner, Brian S., ed. New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Grand Rapids: InterVarsity, 2000.
-Ryken, Leland, ed. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Grand Rapids: InterVarsity, 1998.
For explanations of particular biblical passages, consult commentaries on the stacks or
reference shelves in the library. They start around call number BS 1200.
There are several peer reviewed, full-text online resources that you can consult too. Go to http://
www.cui.edu/library and search in Academic eBooks or in ATLA Religion Database with
ATLASerials, Academic Search Premier, JSTOR, or Oxford Reference Online, all of which are
located under Research Databases.
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