Book Critique Instructions
You will complete a Book Critique on the Schreiner and Wright textbook.
The Purpose of a Theological Critique
In preparing a critique, you must approach a book or other resource with a critical eye to thoroughly interact with the author’s theology and worldview. Since you are not considered an authority, personal references, opinions, attitudes, values, etc., must be withheld from this process except where suggested below.
(Refer to the current Turabian manual for more details.)
Since this is a graduate-level course, papers must be written to a near-thesis standard. That is, minimum format standards must be met, as defined below. English grammar and spelling must be graduate level. Qualities valued include clarity, succinctness, and precision.
Your paper must include the following:
- Cover page
- Table of contents (must show a clearly defined outline that will also be visible throughout the paper)
- 1-inch margins
- Double spacing
- Times New Roman, 12-point font
- Indented paragraphs of 5 spaces or 0.6 inches (the thesis standard is 5/8 of an inch)
- No extra line spacing between paragraphs
- Underlined or bolded section headings (must follow table of contents)
- Page numbers
- 1,500–2,100 words (excluding cover page, table of contents, and bibliography)
- At least 5 scholarly sources in the bibliography
Breakdown of a Critique
- Introduction (1/2 page maximum):
- It must be a single but strong paragraph that reveals what you intend to show to the reader. This is your “thesis statement.”
- It must include a brief review of background data about the book, the author, and the topic discussed in the book (where relevant).
- Brief Summary (1–1 and 1/2 pages; must not be more than 20% of your critique):
- The idea is not to summarize each chapter; instead, you will capture the main idea(s) of the book along with the underlying subtopics and themes.
- This must be a brief overview of what the book is all about: the issues, themes, and solutions that the author is setting forth.
- This section gauges your ability to identify the main purpose of a book and differentiate between central and peripheral ideas.
- Critical Interaction with the Author’s Work (3–5 pages; around 70% of your paper):
- The point is not whether you agree with the author’s perspective but whether you recognize what the author intended and what theological issues might be at stake.
- You must document your assessment of the author throughout the paper. If a judgment is made with respect to the author’s opinion, then you must give an example, along with a footnote, to designate where this can be observed.
Your critique must address the following questions:
- Where is the author coming from, and what are the theological and biblical perspectives from which he or she approaches the subject?
- What is the author’s goal?
- Does the author prove his or her point? How? Why? Why not?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the author’s arguments?
- Are there any published reviews of this work? What are they? Did you observe any relevant issues or questions raised by these reviews? Explain. What important works have been written on this same subject? How does this author compare to others in terms of content, approach, style, etc.?
- Finally—and this is where your perspective is admissible—how might a person (e.g., pastor, therapist, lay leader, scholar) appropriate the ideas conveyed in this work? For example, if the book relates to the doctrines of man or sin, how do the ideas “fit” with the real world of ministry or relationships? Or, if it were a more scholarly work, how and where would it be useful?
- Conclusion (1/2 page maximum):
- This is where you bring together all your interactions with the book and conclude your critique by conveying how well you think the author achieved his or her goals and to what degree the stated purpose was achieved.
- If you come from a different theological persuasion (e.g., the author is Calvinist or Arminian, dispensationalist or covenantist, and you are not), how does the author’s opinion conflict with your preconceptions? Does the book make you think differently? In what ways? Does the author leave you with any questions? What are they?