Write a paper of approximately three to four pages in length (750-1000 words) according to the following instructions. Use at least one of the readings on the syllabus as a source; be sure to quote from it, and then explain the quotations. In other words, display your knowledge of the text and the issues involved related to it. Cite the source parenthetically: E.g., David Winter claims, “such and such” (Winter, 16). For many topics, you might usefully draw on more than one of the texts from our syllabus.
In general, the paper should deal with an issue of interpretation (hermeneutics), i.e., how to interpret the meaning of a religious text (or tradition) and how we can discern its meaning for our contemporary context. Within those parameters, you are free to choose your own topic.
For example, you may choose to write about the relation of religion and science by discussing how to interpret the creation account in Genesis and the Big Bang theory or the theory of evolution (see Winter and Cunningham/Kelsay). Or you may prefer to think about the meaning of resurrection in the New Testament gospels (see Borg). Or you may wish to write about one of the issues of sexual ethics (see Countryman). Or you may decide to think about embodiment and female identity in Hinduism and Christianity (using the works of Rita Gross or Georges Bataille). Or you may wish to write about church/state issues and how the Constitution should be interpreted in such cases (see Esbeck and Smith). Etc.
In any of those cases, be sure to explain how interpretation works by drawing on at least one of the appropriate readings (chapter 4 of The Sacred Quest; David Winter’s Believing the Bible; Hauer & Young’s “The Proclaimer”; Borg’s The Meaning of Jesus; Countryman’s “New Testament Sexual Ethics”; Rita Gross’s “Hindu Female Deities”; Bataille’s Eroticism; the articles by Esbeck and Smith on church/state issues). You may also reference the documentary For the Bible Tells Me Soif it fits your topic in addition to the reading(s) you are discussing. All of these works give guidance for how to interpret. Be sure to explain what they say as part of what you are trying to explain.