Medium-length Essay Questions

I will randomly choose two of the following questions for the medium-length essay section of the exam.


1.    Summarize and compare the basic forms of practice found in Sufism and Hindu Vedanta, as well as the ultimate aims of these practices.

2.    Describe Luther’s notions of salvation, works, and faith.  How did these notions contribute to a “reformation”? 

3.    Summarize the perspectives of the Apostle Paul and Siddhartha Gautama Buddha on the nature of human beings and the basic problem that humans face; then develop a set of reflections in which you address similarities and differences between the two perspectives.


4.    Describe the religious and political circumstances which shape the formation of early Islam and Christianity, then make comparisons.



In your essays, it is very important that you:


1.    Be specific about sub-traditions, movements, sects, persons, historical events and dates -- even if the question doesn’t specify them.  For example, be careful not to refer to “the Hindu tradition,” as this will likely be too general;

2.    Use terms frequently and accurately throughout;

3.    Clarify the concepts that you use (i.e., spell them out);

4.    Refer to appropriate textual traditions (e.g., Hadiths, Gospels) and texts (e.g., Upanishads, Qur’an) whenever possible.


Because you have the essay questions in advance, I will expect a high level of writing and will grade accordingly.