Paper Topic #2
Due Date: April 18 or 19, depending on
whether your class meets MW or TTh
This paper should be typed, double-spaced, and
ABOUT THREE TO FOUR pages in length. Show me not only that you have read these texts, but
that you have thought about them. PLEASE refer to the Writing
Guidelines Page and/or the Style Guide if you have any
questions about form. You do not get a chance to rewrite this one.
Remember that your essay must have an arguable
premise - a thesis. You will convince me that your take on the topic is plausible by
outlining your plan of attack in your intro. Consider three thematically appropriate ways
of presenting your amassed ammo - then blast away! Remember to use details to support an
interpretation YOU are presenting - never just because they are interesting details, or as
plot summary. An BE SURE TO TAKE A SIDE!!! USE YOUR OBSERVATIONS TO PERSUADE ME TO SEE
YOUR POINT!!! THIS MEANS YOU MUST HAVE A POINT!!! Otherwise, you will just be handing in a
list of interesting observations. No Good. Choose to write on ONE of the following topics:
1. Consider that both Moses and Jesus are the
heroes of the narratives they appear in. Refer to page 69 of your IH Guide for
helpful list of common traits of the hero. For example, they were both threatened as
infants, both grew up to be leaders of their people, both performed miracles, etc. Of
course, there are significant differences between the two characters as well. If you
choose to respond to this question, I want to see a carefully constructed argument
concluding that the author of the Gospel of Matthew consciously modeled his representation
of the character of Jesus after the character of Moses in the Book of Exodus even though
clearly Jesus rises above Moses in every way. Present your observations and analysis
clearly and depend very heavily on the texts in question to support your claim. Do not
simply ignore important details that don't seem to fit - figure out why they are there.
Remember - rely on the texts! You may wish to refer to some of the faculty
essays on this topic on the IH webpage (http://oll.temple.edu/ih).
Cite any secondary sources that you use, but please do not go out and
research this topic beyond using the ih webpage lectures made available to
2. Discuss the nature of law as you see it in the
passages we read from the Old Testament and compare it to the law as presented in the
Gospel of Matthew. Has the law changed? If so, does it follow in the
evolutionary steps we traced from Genesis to Exodus? Is the law fundamentally the same?
Take a side and then cite the text to support your argument. The Gospel of Matthew is
particularly fulfilling in this respect - be sure to read carefully Jesus' explanations
concerning the law. Pay attention to the "if thine eye offends
thee" type of rhetoric. Choose particular areas of law to discuss
(dietary laws, restitution...) to give focus to your paper.
3. Consider the characterization of God in the
selections we have read from two of the three sacred texts: Old Testament, New Testament,
or Koran (please regard Jesus as the God-presence in the Gospel of Matthew or you will
have very little to draw on). Decide whether you think they are fundamentally the same, or
fundamentally different. Then argue it. Remember - we are concerned with texts here, not
religions. As you would for any literary figure, consider actions, words, emotions,
personality traits, interactions with other characters, effects, motives...Keep your
discussion focused on the literary presentation in the context in which the character is
represented. Refer to specific chapters and verses and cite the text often to
support your interpretation of the text!
4. Some of you have commented that Jesus reminds
you of Socrates in some ways. So consider both teachers and decide whether they are more
alike or more different and why. I suggest you consider such points as: the message each
brings; the techniques each entertains; the tools each uses in his "classroom";
the relationship each has with his students and the Powers That Be; and lots of other
things - don't be afraid to push the envelope. Don't forget to consider the life each
leads as well - and the death! Remember to structure the essay around YOUR arguments and
use details only to support your interpretation.
5. Compare the treatment and roles of
women in the Sundiata to other IH 51 texts in this unit: the Old and New Testaments or the
Koran. Be specific and detailed, using quotations to support. You can compare how women
deal with political power, family loyalties, destiny and free will, sexuality or ambition.
And how men in the community - husbands, rulers, sons - treat them. Be sure to provide
organization to your essay - do not just list random thoughts and do not
feel that you have to address every point I raise here, or only these and
not one of your own thinking.