The purpose of this paper is to draw on information about various religions in o
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The purpose of this paper is to draw on information about various religions in order to examine a concept that shapes “religion” itself. The papers should have content but also analysis—which means that it needs to show your own thinking about the topic, not simply describe the religions themselves.
Requirements: To fulfill the purpose, all papers need to have (also known as “what I am looking for”):
A thesis: your argument which is your own thinking about the topic
Evidence: specific information from the range of course materials you use for the paper.
I am not making use of primary sources mandatory, as I did for the midterm paper BUT you need to use a range of sources to create your paper. Integrating different sources helps students create their own writing and presentation of the religions. Simply using powerpoints and lectures is not sufficient and will result in a low grade.
Note: you have access to the annotations on the various assigned readings. These can be used to help you understand the readings. You may not copy annotations into your paper—that is considered plagiarism. All writing must be your own. See Course Policies.
Explanation of the evidence: how the evidence supports your argument
Clear organization: your paragraphs start with a main point that holds the paragraph together and the paragraphs have a relationship to each other.
Correct grammar and good style.
Citations: please use specific page numbers in your citations! I regard citations as a form of communication—you are letting me know how you know the information you are drawing on. As always, using ideas or information from others without citing it is a violation of academic integrity (See ‘Important note” below).
These requirements are directly related to the rubric, which assess how well you have fulfilled the requirements.
Length: my general expectation is that this paper should be about 5 pages. I am not setting a word count, but will grade based on how well students fulfill the above criteria (see rubric as well).
Due Date: Submission to a drop box on D2L by 5:00 pm Wednesday Dec 9. Note that this time is earlier than usual–this is because this is the last day of exams, and I will need to start grading to make the final grade submission deadline.Please contact me if you miss this deadline.
Choice of Topics: Please note that while some of these topics are related to earlier Discussion Board mini-essays, you should not cut and paste your earlier essays into your paper.
These topics are based around a series of questions. You do not need to structure your paper by answering these questions in order. The questions are meant to help you create an argument about the relationship among the readings you choose. CHOOSE ONE.
Choice A: Central religious figures/founders:
The foundations of Judaism are associated with Abraham and Moses; of Christianity, with Jesus; and of Islam, with Mohammed. In this paper choose TWO of these three religions and examine the relationship between stories about their founder(s) and central concepts to the religion. What role do these figures play in the development of the religions? What are some of the similarities and differences of how each religion views its central figure(s)? What can be concluded about these religions as religions from this?
NOTE: (1) If you write on Jesus, and you come from a Christian tradition, make sure that you focus on the academic analysis of Jesus and Christianity as presented in this class. This should not be a paper about faith in Jesus. (2) If you write on Judaism make sure to cover both Abraham and Moses.
Choice B: Religion in the Plural: Sects within Religion
Scholars often say that each religion would be better spoken of in the plural, “Judaisms, Christianities, Islams,” than the singular, to emphasize the range of beliefs rather than suggest a uniformity. In this paper, choose TWO of the three religions and examine the main issues in each that lead that leads to a divide in the religion, as well as variances of belief and practice. What is being debated and why? How does this debate shape the religion itself? What is similar and different about these debates between the two religions?
Choice C: Problem/Solution and Methods: How religion is created
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are each monotheistic and believe in the same God. Yet each claims a different human problem and solution. In this paper, choose TWO of these three religions and examine how these similarities and differences between problem/solution create two separate, yet related, religions. Include as part of this examination how each religion proposes a means to the solution (note that there are many ways to approach this question)? Do the different ways of achieving a solution within the religion seem more or less significant than the different solutions between religions (example of what I mean: does Protestant Christianity seem more or less like Catholic Christianity versus a compare/contrast with Reform Judaism? There are many ways to think about this, so again a large part of the paper is your shaping of an argument)?
UPDATE To be sure all students know what primary sources are available for this paper (in addition to the textbook and the additional readings and videos in each module), here is a list (all are linked in modules on D2L and those are what should be used). Not all primary sources are relevant to each topic.
JUDAISM: Genesis chapters 12 and 17; Exodus chapters 3 and 11-12; Pittsburgh Platform (Reform Judaism); Maimonides, “13 Principles” (quoted in Prothero).
CHRISTIANITY: Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7; Gospel of John, chapter 1, verses 1-18; Luther, “3 Walls”
ISLAM: selections from the Qur’an.
Do not use “I”, “In my opinion”, or “It is my personal belief”. This paper should be about what you think but also why you think it. Students can often fall into a trap of stating an opinion without providing a clear explanation. This leads to lower grades NOT because you are “wrong” but because you have not sufficiently explained your reasoning/thinking.
BEFORE HANDING IN YOUR PAPER, do a final visual check:
Does every paragraph, besides the introduction and conclusion have at least one quotation from the text? If not, you have parts of your paper that are more description than points supporting your argument.
Do you make sure not to end a paragraph with a quotation? Make sure you draw a conclusion after the quotations.
Are any paragraphs more than a page long? Are there several short paragraphs on a page? Try to avoid either too long or too short paragraphs as each approach reveals organizational weaknesses.