Dr. Siegel

IH51 - Summer Session I 1999

Topics for Paper #2: Choose ONE

For your essay, choose one topic to answer. In your response, make sure that you have a way to approach your topic in mind. Present your understanding of the topic – your argument – and then choose certain, selected passages from the texts to support your understanding. Remember: your job is to persuade me that your way of seeing this topic is defensible and worthy of being agreed with. Do your job.

1. Discuss the nature of rules of conduct as presented in the Book of Exodus (primarily summarized in the Ten Commandments) and the nature of the rule of conduct as presented by Jesus in the Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew. What are the fundamental similarities and differences between the two sets of rules and why? Specifically mention at least one instance in which the law as given by Jesus contradicts the law as given by Moses and explain the significance of this contradiction in terms of the varying purposes of the two books. Pay particualrly close attention to the TEXTS, not religious doctrine, and try to put these rules in the slightly bigger context of the books in which they are presented (i.e., Ten Commandments in Exodus and what is happening there, and Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew and the overall message of that work).

2. Discuss the nature of the relationship between man and God in the Old and New Testmanets (restrict your comments to Genesis, Exodus and Matthew, please) Choose ONE way to characterize that relationship (master/slave, parent/child, teacher/student) and make this the thesis of your essay. Does this relationship progress over time? Does it develop or always stay the same? Use the texts to prove the nature of the relationship and to examine its significance. Provide some structure for your essay – in other words, think out ahead of time what you see this relationship providing…and then argue that. (For example, you might argue that it provides guidance, or insight, or a goal…remember to distinguish between the physical and the spiritual).

4. Discuss the qualities of the deity presented in Old Testament (The Lord), and the New Testament (Jesus). Do they share similar characteristics? Provide a personality review of each God. Do not avoid mentioning the bad if you are convinced he is good, and do not avoid mentioning the good if you think he is bad. Get the whole picture. Come to some conclusions about the deity in the text. Then compare that character analysis with the deity as presented in one of the other two sacred texts. Are the characteristics similar or different? How? Why? Account for differing circumstances! Naturally, your discussion will have a lot to do with the way the deity interacts with man. Look for character traits such as mercy and love, but do not overlook a bad temper and punishment. (This topic covers some of the same ground as topic #2, but it takes a l\slightly different approach you may prefer. Or not).

5. Consider that in the Old and New Testaments, man spends most of his time trying to close the rift between him and God caused by Adam and Eve’s transgression in the Garden of Eden. Focus on the problem of broken trust in the relationship in Genesis/Exodus and Matthew. Choose specific scenes that reflect your understanding of the attempts on both sides to heal that rift.