You may, of course, study and discuss together with other students and/or get help from people or books:
Consult your professor, fellow students, librarians, Bible Dictionaries, Commentaries, other books, etc.
You are strongly encouraged to get proof-reading and/or grammatical help from others.
The final written product, however, must always be your own work; plagiarism is a serious academic offense!
If you include direct quotations or copy short selections, you must explicitly credit the sources.
Avoid using too many or too lengthy quotations; express your own ideas as much as possible.
Final Product: Unless otherwise specified in individual instructions, all short written exercises should be:
in standard essay format (brief introduction with clear thesis statement, well-structured body, very brief conclusion);
composed in proper written English (please spell-check and proof-read, to check all spelling and grammar!);
within the specified page length or word limit (if it says 1000 words, then 900 are not enough, but 1200 are too many);
word-processed (or typed), in any small but easily readable font (10-12 point type), with 1½ line spacing (not single or double);
bordered by exactly one-inch margins all around (please check your computer's settings; don't use the 1¼ inch default);
compactly headed with your name, course number and name, exercise number and due date (and don't forget a paper title);
printed on both sides of each page, to save paper and trees (please learn how your computer and printer can do this);
turned in on time (at the beginning of the class session on the specified due date).
Grammatical and Stylistic Cautions:
Please be especially careful about the following common errors, which may not only drive your readers up the wall, but also significantly distract them from understanding what you are trying to say (thus resulting in lower grades!). The following items should not have to be mentioned to college-level students, but past experiences have made these cautions necessary.
Know Proper Spelling:
to / too / two (too obvious to mention? you'd be surprised!)
for / four / fore (also too obvious? spell-checkers can't tell the difference!)
from / form / forum (again obvious? not to computerized spell-checkers!)
there (place) / their (possessive) / they're ("they are" - but avoid contractions!)
its (possessive, belonging to it) / it's ("it is" - but again, avoid contractions!)
through (preposition) / threw (verb) / thorough (adjective)
then (at that time, or afterward) / than (in comparisons)
a part (a piece, section) / apart (separate, divided)
altar (table of sacrifice) / alter (to change, modify)
verses (plural of verse) / versus (opposed to)
aisle (passageway between rows of pews or chairs) / isle (an island!)
Shepard of Isreal (no such thing! no such place!) / Shepherd of Israel (oh!)
Use Proper Capitalization:
Always capitalize proper nouns (personal names, corporate names) and titles of address (when used directly before names), but do not over-capitalize when titles are used more broadly:
Examples: "I saw President Clinton, but have never met any other president";
We usually capitalize titles that substitute for a person's name, especially when they refer to God or Jesus or great religious figures.
Examples: God is the Creator of all; Jesus is the Lord of my life; Moses is the great Lawgiver of Israel; Muhammad is the Prophet of God.
Again, do not over-capitalize: "The prophets and priests of the temple went out..."
Always capitalize book titles, including the titles of biblical books or sections: Bible, New Testament, Gospel of Mark, Synoptic Gospels, etc.
However, do not capitalize adjectives like "biblical" or "canonical."
Caution: Religious terms often have different meanings when they are capitalized vs. when they are not!
"Gospel" = a written book -- vs. -- "gospel" = oral preaching of the "good news"
"Church" = a Christian denomination -- vs. -- "church" = a Christian house of worship
"God" = the one & only deity in monotheistic belief -- vs. -- "god" = one of several or many deities in polytheism
Similar distinctions: Catholic/catholic, Apostle/apostle, Evangelist/evangelist, Revelation/revelation, Apocalypse/apocalypse, etc.
Be Careful with Grammar & Punctuation:
Avoid sentence fragments: every sentence must have a subject and a verb, otherwise it is incomplete.
Avoid comma splices: separate two complete sentences with a period or semi-colon, not just a comma.
Avoid run-on sentences: separate complete sentences with periods or semi-colons; don't just string them together.
Begin sentences properly: avoid starting new sentences with "And" or "But"; use commas or semicolons to connect closely related ideas.
Make sure pronouns have antecedents: every pronoun must refer back to a noun that was explicitly stated not too much earlier.
Check that subjects & verbs agree, esp. when using pronouns: one person does; he (or she) does; several people do; they do.
Use proper possessive punctuation: "The boy's books" (just one boy) -- vs. -- "The boys' books" (plural boys, with apostrophe after "s")
Avoid split infinitives: not "He tried to first write the Gospel"; but "He first tried to write the Gospel" (or "He tried to write the first Gospel"?)
Avoid dangling participles: not "Walking down the street, the tree came into view"; but "Walking down the street, he saw the tree." (the person is doing the walking, not the tree!)
Use Inclusive Language:
Avoid "man," "mankind," "forefathers," "sons," "brethren," etc. - unless you are actually referring only to males!
instead use "people," "humanity," "men and women," "human beings," "ancestors," "brothers and sisters," etc.
Yet still use proper grammar: do not mix sg./pl. ("when someone writes, they use a pencil")
instead, either use the singular consistently ("when someone writes, he or she uses a pencil")
or, even better, use the plural consistently ("when people write, they use pencils").
Finer Points for Academic Writing:
Avoid contractions: write "he is" (not "he's"); "they have" (not "they've"); "I am" (not "I'm"); etc.
Avoid slang: use "many" (not "lots of" or "a bunch of"); write "few" (not "a couple of"; unless you mean exactly two).
Use precise relative pronouns: "the people who..." vs. "the object that..." (not "the people that...")
Always underline or italicize the titles of modern books, but put titles of articles in "quotation marks".
Write out numbers under 100 (except in dates), but use digits for numbers over 100 (unless they begin a sentence or are round numbers):
Wrong: "I saw 59 people on December fifth." Right: "I saw fiftry-nine people on December 5."
Wrong: "5,000 people lived here in the year two thousand four." Right: "Five thousand people lived here in 2004."
Use proper punctuation and format for dates:
Separate the year with commas before and after, use cardinal not ordinal numbers,
and avoid abbreviations:
Wrong: "He was born on Nov. 2nd, 1982 in Phoenix, AZ." Right: "He was born on November 2, 1982, in Phoenix, Arizona."
Avoid "There is/are/was/were..." as helping verbs, when the main verb can express the thought more briefly:
Wrong: "There is a plant that is on the table." Right: "A plant is on the table."
Wrong: "There were three people who walked down the street." Right: "Three people walked down the street."
Use verb tenses precisely and consistently, as much as possible:
Use the past tense when describing historical events (including literary processes), but use the present tense when describing the content of literature (since it still exists), or events that occur regularly (such as weekly worship services), or buildings that still exist (unless they have been destroyed). For example:
"Paul wrote the letter to the Romans around 58 AD" -- vs. -- "Paul's letter to the Romans says (not "said") many important things."
"The religious service began at 7:15 p.m." (what happened when you attended) -- vs. -- "The religious service begins with a call to worship." (what happens on a regular basis).
"This church was built in 1848." (past construction process) -- vs. -- "The church has a beautiful altar and ambo." (what can still be seen today, even if you only saw it once on one visit in the past).
Some Humorous "Rules for Writers":
Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
Avoid clichés like the plague. (They're old hat.)
Be more or less specific.
Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
Grading Pyramid - from the Department of Theological Studies at LMU
The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White. Fourth Edition; Longman, 1999.
A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, by Kate L. Turabian. Sixth Edition; University of Chicago, 1996.
The latest edition of a Style Manual published by various universities (some available on the internet).
When citing or referring to sources in your paper, it is usually sufficient these days to give brief references within your text rather than using separate footnotes or endnotes. Put your abbreviated references in parentheses at the end of the sentences in which the quotations occur (Author, Title, page#). Also, make sure that the sentence's closing punctuation follows the reference (cf. Just, "Bartimaeus," 254)!
At the end of most papers (as specified in the instructions), append a single-spaced bibliography listing all the sources you used. In general, give credit where credit is due, be as specific as possible, include complete publication information, and be consistent in your format.
Give full bibliographical information for each source you used in your research, not only those you directly quoted.
For Bible Dictionaries and other edited books, list the specific articles you used, and the actual authors of those articles (not just the book titles and the editors, unless you really read all or most of these books!).
Use proper bibliographical format for the various types of materials (see the LMU Style Manual for examples of general categories). However, we commonly use a modified Chicago-style in biblical studies, so pattern your entries on the examples below.
Pay attention to italics and punctuation in the following examples! But instead of worrying too much about where to use commas, periods, colons, or semicolons, or whether to use round parentheses or square brackets, make sure your format is neat and consistent!
Whole Books and Monographs:
Author's Last Name, First Name. Title of Book: Subtitle of Book. # of Volumes. Series Title, # [optional]. City: Publisher, Year.
Raymond Brown, Anchor Bible: John. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1966-1970. 2 vols.
Alan Culpepper. Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel. Philadelphia, 1983.
Brown, Raymond Edward. The Gospel according to John. 2 vols. Anchor Bible, 29-29A. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1966-1970.
Culpepper, R. Alan. Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel: A Study in Literary Design. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983.
Chapters/Essays in Edited Books:
Chapter Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Essay." In: Name of Book (edited by Editor's Full Name; City: Publisher, Year) volume#.page#s. [or simply page#s, if only one volume]
James Resseguie. "John 9." Literary Interpretations of Biblical Narratives.
Abingdon, 1982. pp. 295-303.
Resseguie, James L. "John 9: A Literary-Critical Analysis." In: Literary Interpretations of Biblical Narratives (edited by K. R. R. Gros Louis; Nashville: Abingdon, 1982) 2.295-303.
Articles in Academic Journals:
Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Article." Name of Journal volume# (year) page#s.
John Poirier, "New Testament Studies", vol. 42, pp. 288-294.
Poirier, John C. "'Day and Night' and the Punctuation of John 9:3." New Testament Studies 42 (1996) 288-94.
Articles/Entries in Dictionaries or Encyclopedias:
Article Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Article." In: Name of Dictionary or Encyclopedia (edited by Editor's Full Name; City: Publisher, Year) volume#.page#s. [or simply page#s, if only one volume]
Note: The specific author's name is usually listed at the end of the article. However, the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary lists only the authors' initials, so you need to consult their list of "Contributors" (pp. vi-xv) to get the full names.
C. E. C. "Jesus Christ." HarperCollins Bible Dictionary.
David N. Freedman, Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 1.
Carlston, Charles E. "Jesus Christ." In: HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (edited by Paul J. Achtemeier; San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1996) 510-523.
Dunn, James D. G. "Christology." Anchor Bible Dictionary (ed. David N. Freedman; New York: Doubleday, 1992) 1.979-91. [short for vol. 1, pp. 979-991]
Thompson, C. L. "Corinth." Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible: Supplementary Volume (ed. K. Crim; Nashville: Abingdon, 1976) 179-80.
Short-Form possible for Multiple Articles from the Same Dictionary:
HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (edited by Paul J. Achtemeier; San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1996):
John Paul Heil, "Blindness," 148.
Pheme Perkins, "Eye," 320.
John Paul Heil, "Miracles," 687-89.
Harold E. Remus, "Disease and Healing," 242-43.
Name of Webpage Author (or Webmaster). "Title of Website or Webpage" [Full URL]. Date of this webpage's last update (if available), or date you accessed this website.
F. Just. John/Bibliog-Main.html
Mark Goodacre. New Testament Gateway. February 2, 1999.
Just, Felix, S.J. "Johannine Bibliography" [http://bellarmine.lmu.edu/~fjust/John/Bibliog-Main.html]. Version of 11/2/99.
Goodacre, Mark. "The New Testament Gateway" [http://www.ntgateway.com/]. Accessed on 2/3/01.