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Selecting a Topic

In America, a paper topic must be very narrow. 

You can start by thinking of a broad topic and then make it continually more specific until the topic is narrow.   

Topics can be narrowed by:

  • Geography – A paper about missions in China is too big, but a paper about how missions impacted people in a specific village is good. 

  • Time Period – A paper about sacred objects is too big, but a paper about changes in church décor during the English Reformation is good. 

  • Source – A paper about the History of Biblical Interpretation is too big, but a paper about Rabbi Ishmael’s interpretation in Bereshit Rabba (Genesis midrash) is good. 

  • Comparison/Relationship – A paper about women in the Old Testament is too big, but a paper about the relationship between Samson’s mother and an angel in contrast to that of Samson’s father and the angel is good. 

  • Specific Application – A paper about the doctrine of adoption is too big, but a paper about how John Wesley’s understanding of the doctrine of adoption applies to orphanage ministry is good.


Here is an example:

  1.  theology
  2.       narrow by subject—theology of baptism 
  3. then narrow by time period—theology of baptism during the Reformation 
  4. then narrow by person—John Calvin’s understanding of baptism 
  5. then narrow by source—Calvin’s understanding of baptism in chapter 15 of his Institutes of the Christian Religion
  6. then narrow by relationship — Calvin’s understanding of the relationship between baptism and the church in chapter 15 of the Institutes

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