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      8 Oct. 2008
      Tom Power
           Foundational Questions
• What is your topic?
• Why does it interest you?
• From what disciplinary perspective will
  you approach it? (theological, pastoral,
  biblical, historical)
• What questions emerge as you reflect on
  the topic?
• Where would you begin searching for
  relevant sources?

•   1. The Question
•   2. The Method
•   3. The Sources
•   4. The Conversation
•   5. The Claim
                 1. The Question
• Good theological research begins
  with an inquiry, a question, a topic
  of investigation
• “Faith seeking understanding”
  expressed in questions
• Anselm posed the question: “Why
  did God become man?” He
  answered it in his book, Cur Deus
• Key Point: Begin with a
  carefully formulated research
                  Question: Example
• 1.Identify your topic:
   – Luther‟s understanding of grace
• 2.Reformulate it as a question:
   – “Was Luther‟s concept of grace a distinctly
     „Protestant‟ doctrine?
• 3.Extend, refine, & clarify the question:
   – “…or was it inherent in the Augustinian
     tradition that grounded his study of the
     New Testament”
• 4. Explain why the question interests
  you and why is might concern a wider
  theological audience
                 2. The Method
• Questions lead to methods
• If you ask questions in a particular
  way, then you are proceeding from a
  methodology or research perspective
• Range of methodologies: liberation,
  feminist, evangelical, exegetical,
• Methodology chosen will impact
• Key Point: Identify the methodology
  you will use
                   3. The Sources
• Questions can only be answered by
  engagement with texts: ad fontes
• Familiarity with key theological &
  biblical sources + specific ones relating
  to your topic
• Facility with library and online
  searching techniques: location,
  evaluation, use
• Requires familiarity with
  documentation, citation styles,
  avoidance of plagiarism, and
  bibliographic conventions
• Key Point: Become familiar with
  sources, their location, & use
                  Tools for Research


Bibliographic Format
                  4. The Conversation
• Research means entering into a
  conversation involving you, the sources,
  other theologians, & the topic/question
  posed as the point of reference

• Conversation driven by: research
  question, methodology chosen, & sources

• Based on the research question posed,
  with whom do you want to have the
• Key Point: Think about your question,
  your methodology & your sources to
  determine your conversation partners
                    5. The Claim
• Culmination: Research claim or hypothesis
• Path from question formulation to research
  claim declaration: sees you accessing
  sources & narrowing topic in tandem
• Difficult but critical stage: expanding
  bibliography & narrowing topic simultaneously
• Narrowing a natural/logical process by virtue
  of continuous questioning, refinement
• Survey literature (summarize in thesis
• Identify gap & carve out your research claim
• Key Point: Broad sifting of sources +
  narrowing of topic leads to your hypothesis
In the preparation of this guide I have drawn on the
following sources:
• Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research
   Papers, Theses, and Dissertations 7thed. (Chicago:
   Univ. of Chicago Press, 2007)
• Lucretia B. Yaghjian, Writing Theology Well: A
   Rhetoric for Theological and Biblical Writers (New
   York: Continuum, 2006)
• Barber, C. & R.M. Krauss, An Introduction to
   Theological Research: A Guide for College and
   Seminary Students (Lanham: University Press of
   America, 2000)
• D. Core, The Seminary Student Writes (St. Louis:
   Chalice Press, 2000)

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