Midterm Essay

At several points in The First Thanksgiving, Tracy McKenzie observes that there are many ways to approach the past, but he wants to help readers to think historically and Christianly about the past. (For example, see p. 10.)

For your midterm essay, write a 1000-word reflection on what it means to you to think historically and Christianly about the past.

Green, Christian Historiography

For an example of a much longer reflection on this question… Here’s a recent book by the current president of the Conference on Faith and History. You won’t read this, but you will read a review of it by another Christian historian.

One can write whole books in response to this prompt; you’re just offering a relatively brief reflection at what, for most of you, is a relatively early point in your studies as a historian. So don’t try to cover too many different topics — instead, focus on a question/theme or two that seem especially meaningful to you. You’ll get a chance to jumpstart your thinking through class discussion this Monday, a response paper and blog commenting in the middle of the week, then a concluding discussion on Friday afternoon. Then you’ll have all of spring break, plus the weekends on either side of it, in which to actually write and edit your thoughts.

The essay is due by the beginning of class on Monday, March 20th. Upload a Word file or PDF to Moodle.

Your grade (out of 75 pts) on the essay will be based on the standard Writing Expectations for the course. Be particularly sure to reread the section on balancing the general and the specific. On the one hand, you can’t explain what it means to think historically and Christianly about the past without asserting some general principles pertinent to the two adverbs. But I also want you to illustrate those principles through specific examples. You’re certainly welcome to refer to material from beyond this course (e.g., make connections with another class you’re taking), but I’ll expect you to interact with at least a couple of the sources you’ll be using this week and into break (readings from your two textbooks, a review essay by Justin Taylor, a video conversation between Dr. Kooistra and myself).

At the same time, remember that the most important expectation is always that you demonstrate original thought. You should absolutely interact with the ideas of others (including textbook authors, professors, and fellow students — feel free to quote others’ responses or comments from the blog), but this essay needs to tell me something about your philosophy of history, at least as it stands right now. So while this should be a polished essay, it’s also an assignment for which I would very much expect you to write in the first person.

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