Writing Assignment Instructions
I) Develop your paper around ONE of the topics below. It should be clear, within the introduction, which
paper topic you have chosen.
a. There is NOT one right answer to the questions. There are, however, stronger and weaker arguments, so be sure
to make your case clearly and forcefully with adequate supporting evidence.
II) Structurally, each paper should have an INTRODUCTION that both introduces the reader to the problem the paper
intends to address and shows why that problem is important. It is crucial that the introduction also contain a
THESIS statement—that is, a sentence or two that describes, concisely and precisely, what your principal argument
is in relation to the question.
a. The paper also must have several BODY PARAGRAPHS (there is no “correct” number of body paragraphs—just make
sure you have enough to get the job done) that do the following:
1) Put the problem in context (what, in more detail, is the problem you intend to address in the paper? How does
the problem arise? In what text or texts do you see the problem appear?)
2) Make your position on each point clear (given the nature of the problem as you have defined it, what solutions
do you offer?). This part of the paper usually has at least two components:
a. Make an argument about how best to INTERPRET the authors/ideas the paper is engaging in relation to the
overall question the paper is addressing.
b. ASSESS and EVALUATE the authors/ideas you are engaging both in relation to each other and individually.
3) Provide evidence for BOTH the INTERPRETIVE and EVALUATIVE positions in the paper (why should I be persuaded
that the answer you’ve provided is satisfying? On what grounds are you supporting your argument?)
4) Consider one or two possible counter arguments to your main points (how might someone who disagrees with you
respond to your argument?); and
5) Respond to the counter argument(s) (why does that person who disagrees with you fail to undermine your
b. Finally, the paper must also have a CONCLUSION—that is, a final paragraph or two that concisely summarizes the
most important points you’ve made in your paper, restates your position in its fullest, most compelling form, and
illuminates avenues for further inquiry
III) Logistics: papers must be between 1800-2100 words, 12 point Times Roman font, and double-spaced in MICROSOFT
WORD format. Grammar and spelling mistakes WILL be considered in the final grade, so please PROOFREAD in addition
to revising for content and style.
a. Papers will be turned in via email. Late papers will receive a substantial grade reduction. Please consult the
syllabus for more information.
NOTE: do NOT use ANY materials except for the ASSIGNED READINGS for this assignment. This is NOT a research
project! I want to know what YOU and YOU alone think. This also means, of course, that you MUST NOT PLAGIARIZE!
Paper Topic #2
This semester, we have thoroughly discussed the theme of “law” as it relates to God’s relationship with human
beings and/or a particular religious community. We have discussed, more particularly, the nature of law as it
relates to the identity and moral obligations of the people of Israel in the readings of Exodus and Leviticus,
and how that conception of law is both MAINTAINED and TRANSFORMED in Matthew, Luke, and St. Paul in the New
Testament. In light of this discussion, write a paper that completes the following tasks:
1) Define what “law” is both within the Old Testament readings and New Testament readings. In particular,
a. How does Exodus and Leviticus define law and its function in the moral life?
b. How do Matthew and Luke define law and its function in the moral life?
c. How does St. Paul define law and its function in the moral life?
NOTE: As with Paper Topic #1, completing this task requires you to make an ARGUMENT—you are arguing, in
particular, how to INTERPRET the theme of “law” and its function in the moral life in each of these texts. Be
sure you DEFEND your interpretation with specific evidence from the text.
2) Compare and contrast these different conceptions of law and their role in the moral life with attention to two
sets of questions:
a. How does the New Testament conception of law and its relation to the moral life (as seen in Matthew, Luke, and
St. Paul) compare to the Old Testament conception of law and its relation to the moral life (as seen in Exodus
and Leviticus)? In what ways does the New Testament DRAW on the Old Testament for its conception of law and in
what ways does it TRANSFORM that conception of law?
b. Within the New Testament itself, how are the conceptions of law and its relation to the moral life as they
appear in Matthew, Luke, and St. Paul SIMILAR to each other and how do they fundamentally DIFFER?
NOTE: this section, too, requires you to make an ARGUMENT; defend the comparisons you make both between the Old
Testament and New Testament and within the New Testament itself with evidence from the text.
3) Finally, in light of the discussion and analysis of the above themes, TAKE A POSITION on which conception of
law and the moral life you find most convincing and explain why you find it most convincing. How should we
understand law in relation to the moral life?
NOTE: As with Paper Topic #1, you are NOT expected to share your “personal” religious beliefs in this section of
the paper. Rather, the task here is to identify which law/morality alternative you find most convincing AMONG the
alternatives that you have specifically identified and analyzed. You can make an argument on the relative merits
of each position even if you do not “agree” (that is, think of as “true”) with any of the positions.
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