Book Review Assignment Instructions
Learning Romans requires detailed study of the letter itself, but that detailed study is informed by knowledge of the historical, literary and cultural backgrounds of the letter. One of the books assigned as reading for the course addresses the literary background by comparing Paul’s writing in Romans with other Jewish writings of his time and just before. The book review assignment allows an opportunity to engage the ideas in the book and evaluate the book’s value for studying Romans. The review will also help develop critical thinking skills to help evaluate other writings about Romans that you may encounter or use in your continuing study of Romans.
Be careful to follow the guidelines for the book review that are detailed below and in the grading rubric. The Book Review must consist of 750 – 1,000 words, be double-spaced, and typed in Times New Roman 12-point font. Maintain 1-inch margins on all sides of each page. In addition to the required word count for content, the Book Review must include a title page. The Book Review must conform to current Turabian format.
The review must provide an overview of the book’s major content, an evaluation of the content, and an assessment of the book’s importance. More specifically, the book review must include 4 major components: (1) the complete bibliographical entry; (2) the editors’ information such as education, position, and scholarship; (3) a concise summary or synthesis of the major theme of the book; and (4) an honest and courteous evaluation of the book.
The book under review consists of a collection of essays that address how the thought in Romans relates to various Second Temple Literature works. Please see the book for the definition of Second Temple. The point here is not that Paul relied on Second Temple Literature. In fact, it is impossible to demonstrate Paul was even aware of it, although surely he had read at least some. The point is that Second Temple Literature represents the way many Jewish people of Paul’s era thought about the issues addressed in Romans. The essays typically compare a passage in Romans or a portion of the letter to a work in the Second Temple period. Sometimes the essays show how the literature is like Romans, but often the essays also show how radically different Romans is from the literature of the period. So, the point of the reading and of the review is to determine whether the assigned book makes any contribution to the study of Romans. Specifically, does knowledge of the Second Temple Literature improve the way we interpret Romans? Students should be prepared to state specific ways the book helped with understanding Romans in a way not understood before, or to say specifically why the book doesn’t help. Please note that for our purposes, students need not be educated about Second Temple Literature. The issue is to evaluate whether the book shows that literature is helpful or necessary for the study of Romans.
The following questions may serve as a checklist to guide you through the process of reviewing the book. The review need not address every question, but all questions should be considered in evaluating the effectiveness of the book:
- What is the editors’ thesis? How is the thesis developed throughout the book?
- Where are the editors coming from? What are their academic backgrounds? Can you detect their assumption, biases, or presuppositions?
- Who is the intended reader?
- Have the editors fulfilled their stated or implied purposes? How well have their objectives been met?
- How does this book compare to similar works in the same field?
- What is your assessment of this book? Does it benefit the particular field of study?
Note: Your assignment will be checked for originality via the SafeAssign plagiarism tool.