REL 333I: Old Testament Women, spring 2007. Research Paper Guidelines: Proposal & Self-Evaluation.


Your Topic is due in class on Thursday March 8th, the day of our library session, when you will begin to gather bibliography.

Your Preliminary Proposal, including your topic, primary biblical text, proposed thesis, and preliminary 12-item bibliography (as specified in the form below) is due in class on Thursday March 15th.

Your Revised Proposal, including revised thesis, annotated and selected bibliography, plus a 1-2 page summary of your proposed argument in substantive outline form, is due in class on Thursday March 22rd.


Your first draft will be due Friday April 6th at the ARC (6-pg. max.). 

Your second draft will be due in class on Tuesday April 10th for exchanging peer reviews.

Peer reviews should be submitted in hard copy - 1 to the author and one to me - using the form and criteria given below.

Your third draft (revised on the basis of peer reviews) will be due to the instructor on Thursday April 12th in class, so that I may read it prior to in-class Oral Presentations on Tuesday April 17th and Thursday April 19th.


Your final draft (8-pg. max.) will be due at the end of the time appointed for the final exam.

Along with your final draft, you must submit your self-evaluation (below), including the date of your visit to the Writing Center (required for all students by 4/6) and peer reviews, along with marked prior drafts, original proposals, and copies of your sources. 


Please type using 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins all around, and number pages.  Quotes over 5 lines should be single spaced and indented.  All quotes as well as paraphrased or summarized ideas should have proper citation in SBL format (see the Library citation format web pages for help on that).  Your paper should be submitted in hard copy to the box outside my office door (D-320) as well as submitting it electronically online at (Class ID# 1775897, password otw07). 


Your “Research Paper” should seek to analyze closely a specific biblical text, giving your own thematic analysis of its implications and significance.  You should use specific texts from the Old Testament.  You may also wish to use class notes or the course textbooks.  Choose a Biblical Commentary (I suggest a full volume commentary on the particular book of the Bible you will be using - as in a multi-volume commentary set like the Anchor Bible or the JPS Torah Commentary Series), an article on your topic from a Bible Dictionary (I suggest a multi-volume specialized dictionary or encyclopedia like the Anchor Bible Dictionary or Encyclopedia Judaica), and 3 journal articles found using the ATLA Religion Index (available on-line through the library web site under "Databases") or found listed in the bibliography of your dictionary article, to inform yourself on relevant issues.  All sources used MUST be given proper citation in your paper.  Citation of biblical passages should take the form of "Book Ch.#:Verses" (e.g. Exodus 6:4-5) instead of page numbers, unless you are using the marginal notes, in which case you must give page number and identify your edition.  You will need to have a thesis and argument that you are making about your topic, and your analysis should begin with the original intended meaning and significance of the biblical texts you have chosen.  Your textual analysis, supporting your thesis, should be the main point of the paper. 

*At a minimum, your Bibliography for the Research Paper should include:
1.        The Bible. Your paper should use and analyze in detail at least one specific biblical passage.
2.        Class Notes and Course Textbooks, if used.
3.        A Biblical Commentary for your text (BS192 or BS1200 and following in library stacks).
4.        An article from a Bible Dictionary on your topic (e.g. Anchor Bible Dictionary, Ref. BS440).
5.        At least three articles from academic journals or essay collections related to your topic 
(use the ATLA Religion Index, at

Although this is a research paper, be sure to give your own analysis of the text and not just a summary of others’ work.
Use quotation marks for all quotes.  Longer quotes should be single spaced and indented.
All sources must be cited.  Bibliography and Citations should use SBL format (guidelines available on the library web pages for citation format. 
Here is a sample:
    Author. Year. Commentary Title. Commentary Series #. City: Publisher. Pages.
    Author. Year. “Article Title.” Pages _-_ in Volume _ of Dictionary Title. Edited by Editor. City: Publisher.
    Author. Year. “Article Title.” Journal Name Volume #: pages.
Citations within the text of your paper can then simply consist of: (author, page #s).
The publication year is also included in the citation if there is more than one source with the same author.
Remember:  The difference between Research and Plagiarism is only proper referencing!  Please cite your sources!
Papers will be submitted electronically at (class ID 1775897, enrollment password “otw07”).  Hard copies should also be submitted in my box along with your original proposal, the annotated bibliography as specified in the guidelines, a self-evaluation (including the date of your visit to the writing center, required for all students), 2 peer reviews, and copies of your sources. 

Please Note:  I really do not want summary of the biblical text.  You should NOT spend any appreciable time merely summarizing the story.  I also do not want mere summary of what other people have thought about the biblical text. 
What I want is analysis of the biblical text, proving your thesis by using evidence from the biblical text, informed by your sources.
Exegesis means to bring out the meaning of the text.
You need to have a thesis about the meaning and significance of the text. 
Then you need to prove that thesis using specific evidence from the text.
The following example with regard to the kingship issue in Judges, as discussed in class, should help to clarify the sort of thing I am looking for in the exegesis paper with respect to analysis of the text.
If you are confused by this, please come talk to me.  My office hours and schedule are posted on my office door (D-320) and web site.  In general I am in my office when not in class.  We can work through some of the issues regarding your particular topic and thesis together.

                              Below is an outline of a sample topic regarding the kingship issue in Judges:
The book of judges is primarily antimonarchic, as demonstrated by the Gideon vs. Abimelech contrast at its center.
1. The book of Judges is arranged chiastically, with Gideon at the center.  The center of the chiasm usually marks the main point (give evidence that Judges is chiastic with Gideon at center).
2. Gideon is shown to be an ideal leader, and at the center of his narrative comes the clear pronouncement of the author's main point: "I will not be your king - God is your king."
3. Abimelech, who makes himself a king by treachery and murder, shows himself to be a terrible leader, the episode ends in disaster.
4. Jotham's fable clearly presents kingship as being worthless - undertaken only by those who have nothing better to do (give quotes).
5. The book of Judges presents kings in general, like Eglon of Moab, to be fat, lazy and foolish (give quote).
6. The main counter-argument to this thesis is that the book of Judges clearly demonstrates that the system of Judges has failed due to a lack of continuity in leadership (give quote).
  a. However, creating an artificial continuity of leadership by instituting dynastic succession leaves no guarantee that the succeeding leader will be any good.
  b. The best case in point for this is again Gideon and Abimelech.  Gideon is a great leader, but Abimelech is a disaster. 
  c. Sons don't always follow in the ways of their fathers - in fact, according to the Deuteronomistic History, they rarely do. 
   Eli is good, his sons are corrupt.  Samuel is good, his sons are corrupt.  Saul is not so good, but his son Jonathan is wonderful, etc. 
  d. Dynastic succession clearly cannot be the answer called for in the book of Judges.
7. Even more, there is the factor of the natural tendency of power to bring corruption.  Gideon, Saul and Solomon all begin well, but after settling in to their power (Gideon after he is offered the kingship) they all begin to abuse it to some degree - perhaps because of the common Canaanite conception of what the rights of kingship are, as demonstrated most clearly by the story of Naboth's vineyard.  Just allowing the title of "King" will naturally lead to corruption, oppression and abuse of power - just as Samuel warns in his farewell speech, and this does, in fact, prove to be the case through the rest of the Deuteronomistic History.
8. In the book of Judges, we see an effort to counter this natural tendency of power to corrupt by making humility one of the primary characteristics of a good leader.  The flip-side of this value is that being power-hungry is an automatic red-flag indicating that a person is unfit for leadership.  Gideon and all of the other ideal Israelite leaders seek to refuse the power when it is offered to them, and act with humility.  Abimelech was prideful and power-hungry - showing him to be an unfit leader.
According to the book of Judges, the ideal leader should be chosen by God rather than by dynastic succession, and should be humble rather than power-seeking.
Because we choose our leaders today by election rather than by dynastic succession, we do not generally face the danger of sons not following in the ways of their fathers.  However, since the election process tends to draw those who are power-seeking rather than humble, and even tends to favor those who are corrupt in the area of securing campaign contributions, it is no surprise that Government corruption in this country is high.  Campaign reform designed to counter this problem might help considerably.  Fostering humility of character is a more difficult challenge.

Preliminary Research Paper Proposal REL 333I: Old Testament Women, spring 2007.

Your Name:

Specific Topic and Text:


Proposed Thesis:




Preliminary Bibliography (12 items)- 
(For the “annotated bibliography assignment,” you will annotate each item as to its basic content/topic/thesis, its specific perspective/slant/bias, and its likely usefulness for your topic/thesis – i.e. justify your choices.)


   A. Three Bible Dictionary articles.  Find articles related to your topic in the Anchor Bible Dictionary (Ref. BS440), Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Ref. BS), and Encyclopedia Judaica (Ref. BM) and list them below giving Author (listed at end of article), year, article title, Dictionary volume: pages. Editor, city: publisher. Then choose the most helpful and mark it with an asterisk.








   B. Three Commentaries. Find three commentaries for your chosen biblical text from the New Interpreter’s Bible (Ref BS), the Anchor Bible (stacks BS192), and individual volumes (BS1200à) and list them below giving Author (listed at beginning of section in Interpreters Bible), year, Title (of volume), vol., pages, city, publisher. Then choose the most helpful and mark it with an asterisk.








   C. Six Journal Articles. Find six journal articles related to your topic using the ATLA Religion Index database on the Snowden Library web page and list them below giving Author, year, “Article Title,” Journal name, volume #: pages.  Then choose the three most helpful and mark them with asterisks.  Request them by Interlibrary Loan immediately if they are not already in our library or available on-line with full-text.











Revised Research Paper Proposal. REL 333I: Old Testament Women, spring 2007. 
(turn in along with 1-pg summary of your proposed argument in outline form, typed, on due date)

Your Name:


Title of Paper:


Specific Topic:


Primary Old Testament Text(s) to be analyzed:
(be specific, giving biblical book, chapter and verses)


Proposed Thesis:



Attach a 1-2 pg. substantive outline summarizing your proposed argument, typed
(often it is helpful to incorporate this outline within the text as subheadings).

Attach Annotated Bibliography, typed.  Annotate each item as to its basic content/topic/thesis, its specific perspective/slant/bias, and its likely usefulness for your topic/thesis – i.e. justify your choices below.


Selected Bibliography (chosen from 12-item preliminary bibliography) *-

   1. Commentary:

   2. Bible Dictionary Article:

   3. 1st Journal Article:

   4. 2nd Journal Article:

   5. 3rd Journal Article: 


Self-Evaluation (turn in with paper on due date, along with "peer review" on next page)


Title (if different):


Specific Topic (if different):


Thesis (state here and also underline in text of paper):




Assigned length of project (using 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, w/ 1-inch margins):  8 pages.
Actual length (use 12-pt Times New Roman font, double space w/ 1-inch margins, and number pages!): _____.

What you like best about your paper (mark in text with *J*!):




What you would most like to improve about your paper if you had the time:





What grade do YOU think your paper deserves (see criteria below)**? ______

How many hours did you spend on it (roughly)? ______
Date of your visit to the writing center (required for all students)? ____


**Grading Criteria [Lewis Hyde’s list (modified), with thanks to Richard Marius’s handbook]
(thesis, use of evidence, organization/structure of argument, counter-argument, grammar/mechanics):

The D or F paper (Unsatisfactory) lacks a clear thesis, or any sort of effective argument.  Paragraphs do not hold together; ideas do not develop from sentence to sentence but are merely repetitive.  The paper is confusing and shows little indication that the writer understands the material being presented.  It is filled with mechanical faults, errors in grammar and spelling.

The C paper (Average, Minimally Satisfactory) has a thesis, but it is vague, broad, or uninteresting.  It advances an argument, but not one that anyone would care to debate.  It states personal opinion without giving adequate justification or defense; supporting evidence is weak, insufficient or inappropriate.  Mechanical faults are present, though not overwhelming.

The B(+) paper (Good) has a thesis that is specific and worth arguing.  The argument is clear and organized, using supporting evidence in a way that is informative and generally convincing.  The paper is competent, mechanically correct, and makes sense throughout.  The reader knows exactly what the author wants to say.

The A paper (Excellent) has all of the good qualities of the B paper, but in addition it is lively, well paced, interesting, even exciting.  The paper has style.  Everything about it seems to fit the thesis exactly.  The thesis is convincing and sustained throughout. Counter-arguments are considered and refuted.  The sure mark of an A paper is that the reader will think about the topic in a new way and will want to tell someone else about it.

For Peer Review - rate the following (E=Excellent, G=Good, F=Fair, N=Needs Work).  Reviewer Name: ______    


Thesis: clear? Convincing? Significant? Interesting? Original?                                                 E    G    F    N


Argument: organized? Coherent? Sustained? Effective?                                                          E    G    F    N


Use of Evidence: convincing? Refutes counter-arguments? More than simplistic analysis?        E    G    F    N


Use of Sources (Primary and Secondary): accurate? Informative? Relevant?                          E    G    F    N


Style: well-written? Readable? Clear? Good transitions? Creative?                                         E    G    F    N


Mechanics (spelling, grammar, syntax, sentence structure): correct?                                       E    G    F    N


Overall, did you like it?            Did you enjoy reading it?           Were you convinced?          What grade would you give it?
                                                                                                                                                               (see criteria above**)
What were the thesis and the main argument?






What did you like most about it?







Suggestions for improvement?