research paper

Find online 12 English translations of that verse – for example, the King James Bible, Revised Standard Version, New Revised Standard Version, NIV, New American Standard, etc.  

Then, if your verse comes from the Old Testament, find the original in Hebrew (look at a Hebrew-English dictionary online). If it comes from the New Testament find the original in Koine Greek  (look at a Koine Greek-English dictionary online).

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See what differences, if any, there are between the original and the translated versions. Look for patterns. What do you discover? From your discoveries, what can you conclude about translations of the Bible? I’ll be glad to help you at this stage develop a thesis statement for your essay.

The structure of your essay will follow the classic model:

Introductory paragraph: Introduce the verse, describe the context of the verse from the Bible (that is, what occurs before and after the verse appears; how does it fit into the context of the  biblical story from which it is taken?).  Follow up with thesis: what do you intend to prove in your paper? Most students find it helpful to develop the body of the essay, first, and then they know what their thesis will be.

Body paragraphs: First, discuss the verse as it appears in the original language – Hebrew or Koine Greek. A Hebrew-English or Koine Greek-English dictionary will help you here. Quote the original as given in English. What do you notice about word order? Word selection? Emphasis? Anything else that stands out.

Next, in a series of paragraphs, discuss each of twelve English translations of the verse, identifying the source, the year of the translation, and compare/contrast each translation to the original. What do you discover? Similarities? Differences? Patterns?

Conclusion: Pull together your discoveries. What have you learned about the craft of translations, of biblical history? These discoveries you can then site succinctly s a thesis statement which you add to the introduction of your paper.

Rubrics: Clear and logical structure, correct grammar, no misspellings, solid support for all claims made, consistent tense (if you begin in the past tense, stay with the past tense), sentence clarity, consistent point of view (use I/we/our/us – avoud the indefinite “you”), no generalizations.

Whenever you quote from the Bible, add in parentheses the source including the translation. For example: (KJV 3:16) or (RVS 3:16).

Once you have finished a draft, start to reach out to some biblical scholars who have written on Biblical translation, its history and challenges, and find some key quotes that you can add to your paper.

At any state please write to me at if you have any questions.

Final draft: Minimum 5 to 7 pages plus a works cited page (listing the 12 translations, the original source, and a minimum of 5 secondary sources (biblical commentators, historians) from which you quote in your essay. Follow MLA formatting guidelines (if you need help with this, you can consult either our college’s library web site or Purdue University’s OWL website).

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