One of the greatest challenges for instructors in religious studies is the task of explaining why, in colleges and universities, the truth claims of religions are not accepted or even investigated, but instead a disinterested, secular approach is taken. Most instructors prefer not to address the issue directly, leaving their students to work out for themselves the difference between religious studies and the study of religion. Those who remain confused inevitably submit essays that reveal more about their religious upbringing than their ability to analyze a phenomenon objectively. A Guide to Writing Academic Essays in Religious Studies eases the transition for undergraduate students by explaining what they need to know about writing research essays pertaining to religion. Topics include methodological and theoretical presuppositions of religious studies, types of research essays, locating appropriate scholarly literature, developing a thesis, the essentials of essay form and content, quotations, forms of documentation, avoiding plagiarism, gender-inclusive language, layout, style, conciseness, rewriting and proofreading, approaching ancient texts, and how to recognize and avoid bad scholarship. This guide is indispensable for students new to religious studies.
Scott G. Brown is a scholar of Christian Origins and has many years of experience teaching religion at undergraduate level. He has published a book on the secret Gospel of Mark and articles in the Journal of Biblical Literature, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Revue Biblique, Biblical Archaeology Review, Expository Times, and Harvard Theological Review.