What are fruitful contributions?

Published by Jeannie R. Ferrell

Dec 8, 2022

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Paper length: 1500-1800 words (5 pages double spaced)
Book: Braaten, Carl E. and Robert W. Jews and Christians: People of God. Grand Rapids:
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2003.
There are two main components to the critical response — summary and analysis. Both components must be included but the weight is on the second component, analysis. Please incorporate lectures and other relevant course material where appropriate.
Summary section:
The summary should comprise no more than 30%-40% of your paper and should give an overview of the text. The purpose of this section is to demonstrate that you understand what you read and how it fits together with what you have learned elsewhere. Give the reader a sense of the content of the text and the main idea(s) the writer is trying to get across. In other words, what are the author’s main ideas and arguments?
Analysis section:
The second part is where you provide your own “critical” reflections. In this section, you should go beyond summarizing the text and interact with the material using your own insights and questions.
This is where you are able to offer your own theological contributions. It is perfectly acceptable to reveal your own opinions, but frame them in a solid, thoughtful way that gives depth and direction to your insights.
In this section, think about the historical, missional, pastoral, or philosophical implications of the text, and organize your thoughts into a constructive discussion. A good approach to this is to think in terms of positive and negative. What is good about the approach or contribution? What are questions or critiques that should be addressed? What are fruitful contributions? What are likely dangers?
Feel free to use other resources where relevant, but remember that the key is to show your personal, thoughtful contribution and involvement with the material.
Obviously space is limited, so rather than trying to fit everything into this small space, feel free to pick a few particular points to develop.
As you write, keep in mind the following things:
Because this is a critical analysis, you are not expected to analyze the entire text. Rather, pick 1-3 key points and analyze those in the context of the summary you have provided of the text.
The critical response is not a book report. It is a critique in which you engage with the content in an analytical manner. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments presented in the text? Can you back up your critique or link it with other texts or information you have received in the class? Remember, the stress here is on analysis.
With regard to citations, the critical responses are not as formal as research papers. Since the critical responses are focused on one or two sources, you do not have to use footnotes. If it is one source, you can write the page number in the body of the text like this (14). If there are two books then you will want to write, for example, (Karkkainen, 24) so the source is clearly identifiable.

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