Essay # 1                                                                                The Problem of Evil


Instructions:  Your essay must be a minimum of 1300 words and must include a word count.  Essays that are not 1300 words will not receive credit for the assignment.  Essays must be typewritten and double spaced.


Citation of sources:  You must give a citation to any source that you have used in the preparation of this paper, whether you use direct quotations from the source or merely have been influenced by its ideas.


All essays must include the following signed statement:

“I understand the rules for the citation of sources.  I certify that this paper is my own work, and that I have given citations to all sources I consulted, to the best of my knowledge.”    [signature]


Essay Topic: Present an interpretation of the Eden story from the book of Genesis.  Drawing on class discussion and on the text, develop your own account of the meaning of the narrative.  You may also bring in other material from Genesis for comparison (Watchers story, Tower of Babel, Cain story), or other myths (Gilgamesh, Prometheus).


Some of the questions that you might want to address are:

-- What is “knowledge of good and evil”?

-- What (if anything) does eating the fruit do to Adam and Eve?

-- Why does God tell them they will die on the day they eat the fruit?

-- What are the serpent’s motivations?  What does he stand to gain?  Why is he described as subtle?

-- What is the role of the Tree of Life?  Why does God forbid eating from the Tree of Knowledge, but not the Tree of Life?

-- What is the special role of Eve in the story?  What about her connection with the tree and the snake?


Your essay should be organized around a thesis: a clear, concise, one-sentence statement of the argument you are making in the essay, which is given in the first paragraph.


Use of quotations:  All essays should make substantial use of direct quotations from the Bible (or other sources) in order to support the argument.


The best essays will exhibit the following:
-- A clear statement of the thesis at the beginning of the essay

-- A thorough defense of the thesis in the body of the essay

-- The use of quotations as evidence to defend one’s thesis

-- Good organization and clear writing style

-- Responsiveness to the arguments made in class

-- Creativity and originality

-- Willingness to acknowledge and respond to evidence that seems to undercut one’s thesis.