Covenant in New Testament

Writing Assignment Instructions

I) Develop your paper around the topic below.

a. There is NOT one right answer to the question. 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 position?)

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 2000-2200 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. 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 #1

This semester, we have devoted significant time to discussing how God’s covenantal relationship with human beings and/or a particular religious community is foundational to defining and understanding “Christian ethics.” We have used the following grid to identify and categorize different kinds of possible covenantal relationships, asking, in particular, which category best describes the covenant God makes in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus:

UNIVERSAL PARTICULAR
CONDITIONAL Christianity? Christianity?
UNCONDITIONAL Christianity? Christianity?

In your paper, choose TWO authors we have read in the NEW TESTAMENT and/or in the Wogaman collection of primary texts (please do not select any readings from the Old Testament or from the Wogaman background text) and write a paper that completes the following tasks:

1) Briefly describe what a “covenant” is in a theological context and explain how a covenant could be conceived of as conditional and universal, particular and conditional, unconditional and universal, or unconditional and particular.

2) Describe which category best captures the theological views of EACH author you select. For example, if you select the Gospel of Matthew and St. Clement, explain which covenantal category YOU BELIEVE accurately categorizes the theological viewpoint of each.

a. Note: you are making an ARGUMENT here. Be sure to EXPLAIN why you believe the authors you have chosen belong in their respective category and DEFEND your explanations with specific evidence from the text. It is okay if you believe that both of the authors you are interpreting and analyzing belong in the same category—just be sure to explain how and why that is the case.

3) Describe the ETHICAL IMPLICATIONS of each author’s interpretation of the covenant. For example, if I John appears to describe the event of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection as pertaining only to a particular community of believers, how might that influence its conception of what defines the good life and what moral obligations one has?

NOTE: In this section of the paper, you are also making an ARGUMENT. Identify what you take to be the moral implications of each author’s view and DEFEND your interpretation by drawing on the texts.

4) Finally, identify what YOU take to be the most accurate categorization of the “new covenant” represented in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

NOTE: Here you are NOT expected to argue which interpretation of Jesus you think is true; you do NOT, that is, have to draw on or share any of your personal religious beliefs (though, of course, you are welcome to do so, if you think it helps strengthen your argument). Rather, the task in this section of the paper is for you to TAKE A STAND in an INTERPRETIVE sense: which category to you think best defines the event of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, independently of whether you believe that that event is actually “true”?

ALSO NOTE: In this section of the paper, you can draw on your conclusions from your discussion of the two authors you have analyzed; however, your argument should be YOUR argument and not merely a repetition of one of the points of view you have identified and analyzed.

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