Research Paper – Proposal Instructions

You will need to start thinking about your research paper topic right away. You will submit your research paper proposal in Module/Week 2. The time and effort you put into your proposal will be well worth it. Once you have taken the 3 basic steps in planning your research (defined the problem, determined the purpose, and designed a methodology), you will be ready to write your proposal. The proposal will serve as a “clear guide for the research process” as well as providing the basis for your paper introduction (Vyhmeister and Robertson 2014, 122).

The proposal must be typed in Times New Roman 12-point font and be double spaced with 1-inch margins. The proposal will consist of 3–4 pages. It must include the following elements:

  1. Give the background of the problem. Detail the scope and extent of the problem.
  2. Clearly state the problem in 1 sentence or with a question.
  3. State the purpose of your research. What are you going to do about the problem?
  4. State your thesis (i.e., hypothesis). Clearly state your tentative solution to the problem.
  5. Detail the significance/importance of this research.
  6. Define potentially unfamiliar terms, such as technical, denominational, or theological terms.
  7. State the limitations of this study (e.g., time limitations, language limitations, limited library resources).
  8. Declare the delimitations of this study by setting precise parameters.
  9. Clarify your methodology by delineating the precise steps you plan to take or process you will follow in order to achieve your stated purpose.
  10. Provide a tentative outline of the major points you plan to cover.
  11. Include a working bibliography consisting of sources you have consulted up to this point. Your complete bibliography is due in Module/Week 3.

Submit this assignment by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday of Module/Week 2.


Research Paper Instructions

This document includes information that applies to both the Research Paper – First Draft and the Research Paper – Final Draft.

RLGN 490 culminates with a major research paper that is grounded on scholarly virtue and demonstrates the systematic research of a topic. As such, the paper must demonstrate the characteristics of scholarly excellence (diligence, honesty, integrity, etc.) and systematically present the topic. You will collaborate with your instructor regarding an appropriate paper topic. Two important reminders about this research paper must be kept in mind. First, research is the objective, systematic search for suitable authoritative information about a precisely specified topic. Second, the findings of this research are presented as a paper that brings the information together and answers the research question in a clear, persuasive, and systematic manner.


You will write a research paper that is 3,000–3,750 words on an approved topic and in collaboration with your instructor. In addition to thoroughly analyzing the topic, the paper must be typed in Times New Roman 12-point font, be double spaced with 1-inch margins, and include a title page, footnotes, and a bibliography per current Turabian format. You must consult and interact with at least 10 published scholarly sources (published by reputable academic publishers as opposed to private essays, blogs, student papers, wikis, etc.). Reference works such as the Holy Bible (the MT and GNT as much as is possible), Hebrew and Greek dictionaries/lexicons, theological dictionaries, and concordances must be utilized. These reference works are essential components of biblical and theological research and must be included in the bibliography and footnoted when you cite from them. See the current edition of the Turabian manual regarding citing the Holy Bible. The style of the Research Paper must follow current Turabian format. The minimum of 3,000 words refers to the main body of the paper only (it does not include the title page, contents/outline, bibliography, or appendices). While you may include an outline page, it is not required.

Criteria for Evaluation

The research paper will be evaluated according to—but not limited to—the following criteria:

  1. Structure/Organization: The paper is well-organized, using subheadings to indicate major topics. The paper is built on coherent topical paragraphs that lead to the overall cohesiveness of the paper, and culminates with a strong/persuasive conclusion. The paper is formatted according to current Turabian format.
  2. Content: The body of the paper is within the criteria of 3,000–3,750 words. The length does not include the title page, contents/outline, bibliography, or appendices. The paper contains an appropriately placed, precise thesis statement; demonstrates serious and critical interaction with at least 10 scholarly, research-oriented sources; clearly focuses on the topic; and demonstrates an acute understanding of the topic. The paper coherently presents the topic; demonstrates an awareness of the assumed reader/audience; and maintains a consistent argument/line of reasoning that is clearly based on exegetical analysis of key biblical texts. Each premise is substantially supported by key biblical texts, primary sources, secondary sources, and essential reference works.
  3. Grammar/Mechanics: The paper contains no major or minor grammatical errors. It shows an awareness of subject-verb agreement, tense agreement, and all other nuances of good English grammar. Spelling, punctuation, and grammar are correct and consistent. Sentences are coherent, complete, fluent, unified, and varied. The paper conforms to current Turabian format in all matters related to formatting, use of subheadings, footnote citations, and bibliography entries.

The Right Methodology

Depending on the topic you select (from the approved topics) in collaboration with your instructor, your research paper may take one of the following approaches:

  1. Biblical Exegesis and Interpretation: In this case, your paper will consist of an exegetical analysis of a particular biblical text. The biblical text must be manageable so as to be adequately treated within the specified word count. For instance, you may want to discover the meaning of Paul’s use of theopneustos in 2 Tim 3:16 relating to the nature of Scripture. You would conduct an exegetical analysis of 2 Tim 3:10–17, focusing on verse 17 and related biblical texts. The Biblical Exegesis and Interpretation approach must follow the 7 steps in the exegetical process and model outline as presented in Chapter 2 of the Vyhmeister and Robertson text. This would be an inductive approach to Bible study (ie. Inductive Bible Study).
  2. Biblical Theology: You may want to approach your topic inductively by exploring its major theological development within the canon of Scripture. For instance, you may trace the development of the concept of divine revelation throughout the Old and New Testaments. Furthermore, you may concentrate on either Old Testament theology or New Testament theology.
  3. Historical Theology: You may want to explore given topic such as the Reformer’s view of Scripture within a specified historical context. In this case, you would set the limits of your inquiry so as to be manageable within the confine of the paper. You would also delimit your objects of inquiry. For instance, you may want to examine (compare and contrast) the views Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin held about Scripture.

In collaboration with your instructor, you will determine the best approach and methodology for your topic. Whether you have a topic in mind or not, your instructor will discuss potential biblical-theological topics with you and guide you through the process of choosing a topic.

Culmination of the Research

Your research paper will be considered for publication in an online journal that has been created especially for RLGN 490 and is housed in the Digital Commons. The journal name is Diligence: Journal of the Liberty University Online Religion Capstone in Research and Scholarship. You have the opportunity to not only produce a quality research paper for this course, but also to contribute to the world of scholarship. The course instructor will inform you whether or not your paper is being considered for publication in Diligence. The well researched and well written research paper will also serve as a writing sample for those students who wish to pursue graduate work.

General Suggestions for Writing a Formal Research Paper

  1. Never specifically address the reader in academic papers. Avoid second person pronouns such as “you” or “your” in academic writing as this is much too informal and casual.
  2. Avoid the use of first person as well. Academic papers lose much of their merit when first person pronouns such as “I,” “me,” and “my” appear in the text.
  3. Avoid the use of contractions such as “can’t,” “don’t,” “doesn’t,” and so on. At this level, you should be striving to produce formal documents that have a poised, professional tone.
  4. Consult and cite authoritative, academic sources. This adds great value and merit to the paper.
  5. Avoid conversational or colloquial jargon. Slang, idioms, figures of speech, and a casual/relaxed tone are not acceptable for academic papers.
  6. Write as though the reader does not have a thorough background in the subject matter. This will help you provide a more comprehensive presentation (of the context and background).
  7. Make sure all sentences are clear, strong, and well-thought-out. A weak sentence in the middle of a paragraph weakens the entire paragraph.
  8. Craft clean, concise topical paragraphs. Paragraph breaks not only help you better organize your content, but they can also give the reader a visual delineation of your thought processes, making your paper easier to follow logically.
  9. Include a precise thesis statement (hypothesis or claim) in your work. The thesis statement is a sentence or two that appears early in your paper and communicates the main point or focus of your work.
  10. Avoid using rhetorical questions in academic papers as they do not directly contribute to the content of your paper. Keep to clear, direct statements.

A Final Reminder

Academic honesty is required. Do not, in any way, use any paper or research developed by another student, past or present. Computer files may not be shared or copied for other students. If in doubt, ask your instructor. Academic dishonesty or plagiarism will result in an “F” for the paper and possibly for the course. Plagiarism (in papers, projects, or any assignment) includes the following:

  • Omitting quotation marks or other conventional markings around material quoted from any printed (or electronic) source.
  • Paraphrasing a specific passage from a specific source without properly referencing the source.
  • Replicating another student’s work or parts thereof and submitting it as original.
  • Replicating your own previously submitted work.

For more information on these topics, consult the Student Expectations page.

Submit your Research Paper – First Draft by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday of Module/Week 5.

Submit your Research Paper – Final Draft by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday of Module/Week 7.

RLGN 490 Bibliography Grading Rubric

CriteriaLevels of Achievement
Content 70%AdvancedProficientDevelopingNot present
Content38 to 42 points Bibliography consists of at least 10 scholarly, research-oriented sources that are directly related to the selected topic. Includes 3–5 reference works.29 to 37 points Bibliography consists of at least 10 scholarly, research-oriented sources that are directly related to the selected topic. Includes 1–2 reference works.1 to 28 points Bibliography consists of less than 10 sources, not all of which are scholarly and research oriented. Most are not directly related to the selected topic.0 points Content is not present.
Structure 30%AdvancedProficientDevelopingNot present
Spelling9 points Spelling is correct and consistent.  6 to 8 points Contains a couple spelling errors.1 to 5 points Contains several spelling errors.0 points Content not present.
Formatting9 points Conforms completely to the Turabian Style Guide.6 to 8 points Contains a few formatting errors.1 to 5 points Contains several formatting errors.0 points Content not present.


Human Authorship of Scripture

  1. Background of the Problem.

It is grounded on the debate whether scriptures were written by humans but through divine inspiration or mere authorship influenced by personal belief, culture and positions. The debate tests the authority and realism of the word of God. People who do not accept divine inspiration also disregard the Christian worldview.

  • Statement of the Problem.

The Christian worldview loses its meaning if a person cannot accept that God is the primary author of the bible and human authorship of scriptures was impacted by inspiration.

  • Purpose of the Research.

To draw information together with exegesis quote will prove that humans wrote biblical scriptures but through Gods inspiration. The examination will uphold that the bible is the genuine word of God to His subject as the passages and texts claim.

  • Thesis.

The research paper will seek to ascertain whether the Bible is self-attesting to be God’s word but written by humans through divine intervention. It is upon people to buy into the conviction or reject it and anticipate the consequences of their views. Biblical passages will evidence that the bible is the word of God, human authored but brought about after divine inspiration.

  • Significance of the Research

Use evidences from the bible to support the Christian worldview. To refute the claim that scriptures are merely personal texts and uphold that human authorship was influenced by God himself. Exegetical evidence set forth will explicate and endorse the conviction that the bible helps people comprehend and accept the biblical worldview.

  • Definition of Terms

Hermeneutics: methods of construing biblical texts.

Exegesis: a deep description of biblical passages

Inspiration:  Godly influence or mentoring in authors to write or some sense of the word of God.

  • Limitations of the Study

Deficiency of modern theories focusing on human authorship of scripture, time constrains and over realize on exegesis quotes.

  • Delimitations of the Study

To overcome time constrain, the research will focus on the core subject “human authorship of scriptures”. Besides biblical texts, theological and evangelical theories will be used to back the study.

  • Methodology

A mix of biblical exegesis, hermeneutical interpretation and topical bible study will be employed to substantiate that God’s word is divine. Exegesis passages will back the human authorship of the bible and the biblical world view.

  1. Outline
  2. Introduction
    1. A brief statement of the problem
    1. Solution to problem
    1. Thesis: ascertain whether the Bible is self-attesting to be God’s word but written by humans through divinity. It is upon people to buy into the conviction or reject it and anticipate the consequences of their views.
  3. The Bible’s Claim Regarding the Process of Divine Inspiration (2 Thess 2:15, 2 Tim 3:16, 2 Pet 1:19-21,)
  1. Setting
  2. Translation
  3. Interpretation
  4. Application
  5. Traditional Authorship of the Bible
  6. Historical Criticism of the Bible
  7. Divine and Human Authorship
  8. The role of the Human Author
  9. Modern Scholarship View
  10. Extent and specification of Inspiration
  11. Conclusion
  12.  Bibliography

Andrews, Edward D. Mosaic Authorship Controversy: Who Really Wrote the First Five Books of the Bible? Christian Publishing House, 2019.

Barbosa, Rodrigo de Galiza. “The Inspiration and Interpretation of Scripture: What the Early Church Can Teach Us [review] / Graves, Michael.” Andrews University Seminary Studies (AUSS) 54.1 (2016): 154-159

Berlin, Adele. “From scripture to literature.” Interpreting Scriptures in Judaism, Christianity and Islam: Overlapping Inquiries (2016): 326.

Bowald, Mark Alan. Rendering the Word in Theological Hermeneutics: Mapping Divine and Human Agency. Routledge, 2016.

Dohrmann, Natalie B. “Jewish books and Roman readers: censorship, authorship, and the rabbinic library.” (2020).

East, Brad. “The Hermeneutics of Theological Interpretation: Holy Scripture, Biblical Scholarship and Historical Criticism.” International Journal of Systematic Theology 19, no. 1 (2017): 30-52.

Goswell, Gregory. “Authorship and anonymity in the New Testament writings.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 60, no. 4 (2017): 733-749.

Haygood Jr, B. Spencer. “Sleuthing the Bible: Clues that Unlock the Mysteries of the Text.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 63, no. 1 (2020): 178-180.

Manning, David. “What was devotional writing?” In People and piety. Manchester University Press, 2020.

Roloff, Mark A. “The Inerrancy of the Breath of God: An Examination of the Bible’s Claim to Inerrancy.” Diligence: Journal of the Liberty University Online Religion Capstone in Research and Scholarship 2, no. 1 (2018): 1.