The American Evangelical Story
The Purpose of a Book Analysis
In preparing an analysis, you are expected to approach a book from a critical standpoint to thoroughly interact with the author’s theological, biblical, and historiographical perspectives. Since you are not considered an authority, it is important that you withhold personal references, opinions, attitudes, values, etc. from this process, except where suggested below.
(cf. Turabian manual for more details)
Since this is a graduate-level course, papers must be close to thesis quality. As such, the Book Analysis must meet the minimum formatting standards defined below. Grammar, idiom, and spelling must be up to graduate level. Qualities valued include clarity, succinctness, and precision.
Your paper must be 750–800 words, follow current Turabian format, and include the following:
- Cover page properly formatted to the School of Divinity template
- 1-inch margins (top, bottom, and sides)
- Double-spaced lines (approximately 3 vertical lines per inch, 27 lines per page)
- 12-point Times New Roman font
- Paragraphs indented 0.6 inch (our thesis standard is 5/8 inch)
- No extra line breaks between paragraphs (just indent the paragraph as specified above)
- Underlined (or bolded) section headings (should follow Table of Contents)
- Page numbers
Breakdown of the Analysis
I. Introduction (125 words maximum)
- Your introduction must be a single but strong paragraph that reveals what you intend to show to the reader. This is your “thesis statement.” Your thesis statement needs to be written with what you want to say about the book in mind. In light of the author’s thesis and how he/she develops it, what do you want to say about it and how do you intend to develop your thesis?
- Your introduction must also include a brief review of background data about the book, the author, and (where relevant) the topic under discussion in the book.
II. Brief Summary (250 words maximum)
- The idea is not to state what every single chapter is all about. Instead, you must capture the main idea(s) of the book and the underlying subtopics and themes.
- The summary 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 point of a book and differentiate between central and peripheral ideas.
III. Critical Interaction with the Author’s Work (450 words minimum)
- The point is not whether you agree with the author’s point of view, but whether you recognize the author’s intentions and what theological issues might be at stake.
- It is important to document your assessment of the author throughout. If you make a judgment of the author’s opinion, you should provide an example, along with a footnote to designate where this opinion appears in the text.
Your analysis must deal with the following questions:
- Where is the author coming from, and what are the theological, biblical, and historiographical perspectives from which he/she approaches the subject?
- What is the author’s goal?
- Does the author prove his/her point? How? Why? Why not?
- What are the strengths/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.? The Book Analysis must contain at least 2 scholarly sources.*
- Finally—and this is where your perspective might be admissible—how might a person (e.g., pastor, lay reader, 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 his/her occupation? Think in terms of answering the “so what?” question: In light of what has been written, so what? What difference does this information make in my life, the life of ministry, and the life of the church?
IV. Conclusion (125 words maximum)
- This is where you bring together all your interactions with the book. Wrap up your analysis by conveying how well you think the author achieves his/her goals and to what degree the stated purpose is achieved.
- If you come from a different theological and/or historiographical persuasion—e.g., the author is Calvinist or Arminian, Dispensationalist or Covenantist, etc. and you are not—how does the author conflict with your preconceptions? Does the book make you think? In what ways? Does the writer leave you with any questions? What are they?
Book Analysis – The American Evangelical Story is due by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Sunday of Module/Week 7.
* You may search for published reviews in the periodical index in Jerry Falwell Library. You may also search for other published works on the subject or author using the Liberty University website.