- What are the purposes of the ceremony described in Nehemiah 8:1-8? In what ways does the ceremony help construct a new group identity for the restored community? Be specific.
- What institutions and groups become central to the religious life of Jewish community? How does that compare to pre-exilic Judah?
- What are the indications that the Torah is in the process of becoming the sacred text of Jewish community?
- How do you understand the term â€œsacred textâ€
A well-written paper will have a concise introduction to the general topic of the paper, a clear thesis statement, and a carefully developed argument with specific examples supporting the thesis statement.
Your paper should be written according to the following guidelines.
- Your paper should be no longer than three pages (typed, double-spaced) and should concisely, clearly express the results of careful thought and prior drafts. In the paper you turn in, donâ€™t waste space with filler material.
Avoid generalities not supported with specific analysis and evidence. Anchor your paper in careful analysis of Nehemiah 8, not in broad generalities about Second Temple Judaism. You should cite specific passages from Nehemiah 8 to support your argument.
Do not, however, include long quotations of passages. You are writing for an audience that has read these texts. Instead, quote only what is absolutely necessary for your analysis. Refer to passages by giving an abbreviated form of the name of the book followed by chapter and verse (or verses): e.g., Neh 8:3; Neh 8:5.
Make every paragraph, sentence, and word count. In three pages you donâ€™t have space to waste.
- The first paragraph of your paper should include a succinct statement of what you are going to argue to answer the questions posed by this assignment. This statement is your thesis statement and determines what aspects of the ceremony described in Nehemiah 8 you will emphasize in your paper. The following paragraphs should develop your argument to support the thesis that you have stated in your opening paragraph. Your final paragraph should build on your argument to lead the reader into some implications of your thesis and argument for understanding the nature of Nehemiah’s reforms. Again, your argument must be supported by specific evidence from Nehemiah 8. You are trying to persuade the reader to agree with your thesis statement.
- This assignment is not a research paper, but you should (as appropriate for your argument) interact with the readings and class discussions for the course. You are also free (but not required) to pursue outside reading. In any case, do not pass off the ideas of others as your own. Footnote your use of the ideas of others. Use the note method of citation.
In general, material from the Internet has little value in lending support to your argument because most of the material has not been critically evaluated. Anyone can say anything on a Web page. Before you use information from the Internet, you must carefully evaluate its reliability. You have to ask yourself, for example, from where the information is coming. Donâ€™t believe something just because it is on a Web page. You will lose points on your paper if you uncritically use material from the Internet. If you choose to include material from the Internet, you must cite the source of the information.