Writing Theologically

Writing Theologically

Eric D. Barreto
Copyright Date: 2015
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    Writing Theologically
    Book Description:

    Of course, by writing we refer to the kinds of reflections, essays, and exams students will have to complete in the seminary classroom. But writing also encompasses the many modes of communication and self-discovery that creative expression can unlock. Writing Theologically introduces writing not just as an academic exercise but as a way for students to communicate the good news in rapidly changing contexts, as well as to discover and craft their own sense of vocation and identity. Most important will be guiding students to how they might begin to claim and hone a distinctive theological voice that is particularly attuned to the contexts of writer and audience alike. In a collection of brief, readable essays, this volume, edited by Eric D. Barreto, emphasizes the vital skills, practices, and values involved in writing theologically. That is, how might students prepare themselves to communicate effectively and creatively, clearly and beautifully, the insights they gather during their time in seminary? Each contribution includes practical advice about best practices in writing theologically; however, the book also stresses why writing is vital in the self-understanding of the minister, as well as her or his public communication of the good news.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-9659-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)
    Eric D. Barreto

    There is no way around it. Writing is hard, hard work.

    As much as we like to romanticize the author and her craft, writing is anything but easy. Even if you are sitting in a beautiful cabin near a placid lake on a beautiful fall day, writing is difficult. Even if you are surrounded by brilliant books in a university library, writing is laborious. Even if you are sitting at a wooden desk and your hand is holding an exquisitely designed fountain pen, writing is a job. Even if you have a powerful tablet and a steaming cup of coffee...

  5. 1 Writing Basically
    (pp. 5-20)
    Richard Newton

    Writing has played a pivotal role in the formation and spread of the Christian witness. In the prologue to the Gospel of John, we find an illuminating image of this relationship. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”¹ The evangelist likens Christ to “the Word” (Greekho logos, think “logic”), the very expression of reason, present since before creation and enlightening the world ever since. The apostle Paul tells the Corinthians that Jesus’ passion and resurrection happened “in accordance with the scriptures.”² These “scriptures” (Greektas graphas, imagine “graphics”) or,...

  6. 2 Writing Persuasively
    (pp. 21-32)
    David G. Garber Jr.

    Everywhere we turn, we hear the voices of people arguing. If we flip on the news, we see talking heads barking sound bites at one another. When we scroll through our social media feeds, we find friends or family from one camp or the other regurgitating certain political, social, or religious one-liners. Arguing is cultural. Arguing is entertainment. Arguing can even be fun for certain types of people. But making an argument is also countercultural. Taking into consideration opposing viewpoints and thinking through all the implications of your perspective is an arduous process. If we are going to be mindful...

  7. 3 Writing for the Ear
    (pp. 33-44)
    Karyn L. Wiseman

    Writing can be both thrilling and challenging, joyful and difficult. Whatever your purpose is for writing, the task of writing itself can be both enriching and infuriating. Whatever reason brings you to the task, thinking intentionally about writing is important though far from easy.

    Some of us write for a living. Some of us write for fun. Many of us write for school or continuing education. Still others write as a hobby. In theological education, writing is a regular—even ubiquitous—part of your life. Whether that means writing an academic paper, a personal theological statement, ordination paperwork, sermons, or...

  8. 4 Writing Briefly
    (pp. 45-58)
    Shively T. J. Smith

    Who doesn’t want to speak with force and energy? As seminarians, I suspect you, like Quintilian, want to preach, teach, and write with impactandvigor. Quintilian was a first-century Roman rhetorician who lived in Rome during the time the New Testament writings were being composed and the Christian movement emerging. He gained notoriety for his moving speeches and written rhetorical guidelines. Yet, even he had to admit the truth: force and energy come with practice.

    Quintilian suggests that oral speech develops persuasiveness through the practice of writing, not more speech making. As such, we acquire forceful and energetic speech...

  9. 5 Writing Creatively
    (pp. 59-72)
    Angela Yarber

    Creative words and creative potential burst the world into being, according to the theology of the creation narratives of the opening chapters of Genesis. In John, Jesus was and is and becomes the Word. With words, God calls forth life and trees, stars and sunsets, oceans and rivers, animals and humanity. Color, design, beauty, creativity, and wonder are encapsulated—as best they can be—in words. And as best we can, we use our finite words to capture the infinite. Theology—faith seeking understanding—is most often articulated in language, words, sentences, grammar, structure, paragraphs, papers, and books. As a...

  10. 6 Writing Publicly
    (pp. 73-86)
    Grace Ji-Sun Kim

    I grew up in the days of the door-to-door encyclopedia salesman. I remember the day when a clean-cut, well-dressed man knocked on our apartment door to sell the twenty-six-volumeWorld Book Encyclopedia. We were recent immigrants and could not speak English fluently. We had few worldly possessions and the last thing we needed in our home was a twenty-six-volume encyclopedia.

    After the hour-long presentation, during which we flipped through the volumes full of exciting information, my dad said, “No.” The salesman looked sad as he packed his sales kit. As he was walking out the door, he gave one last...

  11. 7 Writing Digitally
    (pp. 87-102)
    Adam J. Copeland

    Students today write more than ever before, most of it mediated by digital technologies. Take, for example, a typical day in my life. This morning, my wife and I sent five text messages to one another to coordinate drinks with a friend after work. I participated in several conversations with colleagues on Facebook, both in private messages and on public walls where others joined us. I sent four e-mails, one composed on my iPhone while walking down the hall. I typed my credit card number into a crowd-funding website, then shared news of the project on several social media platforms....

  12. 8 Writing Purposefully
    (pp. 103-118)
    Melinda A. McGarrah Sharp

    Writing purposefully is sacred communication that engages human experiences, addresses communities across time, and dares to bring voice to the mysteries of divine presence. Writing purposefully articulates theological claims even while discerning and perhaps challenging them. It is your responsibility and yours alone to write with purpose about your most deeply held convictions. However, this does not mean you are alone.¹

    Seminaries host communities of writers in conversation. Diverse theological commitments that may or may not align with yours coexist within and across seminaries. It is therefore easy to slip into dehumanizing speech that opposes positions and people in uncharitable...

  13. 9 Writing Personally
    (pp. 119-130)
    Raj Nadella

    I remember spending long hours in the library working on my first seminary paper about Christology in the Gospel of Matthew. I was certainly driven by a desire to produce a well-researched and clearly articulated paper, but I had a more important goal in mind while writing the paper. I was far more interested in producing the kind of paper my instructor would consider excellent. I was obviously interested in securing a good grade. Beyond that, however, as far as I was concerned, I was not just writing the paper for that instructor’s class. I was writing it for him....

  14. 10 Writing Spiritually
    (pp. 131-148)
    Jacob D. Myers

    Just in case nobody’s told you yet, allow me to let you in on an ineluctable consequence of pursuing a seminary education.

    You. Will. Write. A lot!

    Writing is to the seminarian what plowing is to the farmer; it may feel like painful, backbreaking work, but without it “don’t nothin’ grow,” as they say in my neck of the woods.

    Now, I know what you’re thinking. You just finished reading a dozen or so essays en route to learning how to write theologically, and here you find this essay on writing spiritually—tacked on at the end, little more than...

  15. More Writing
    (pp. 149-150)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 151-157)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 158-158)