Getting a Little Help From a Book

As I’ve been making my way through school many people have been kind enough to pass books to me that give advice on how to “survive” different aspects of graduate school. Just looking at my bookshelf right now I have: “Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student’s Guide to Earning a Master’s or PhD”; “The Craft of Research”; and “How to Complete and Survive a Doctoral Dissertation”.

As you can see, they are all mostly about PhD work. However, a few weeks ago I stumbled across a book not only about master’s work, but specifically seminary level master’s work (something I rarely come across). The book is “Research and Writing in the Seminary: Practical Strategies and Tools” by Diane Capitani and Melanie Baffes.*

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 I honestly wish I had this when I started seminary. As I’ve written before, I come from a long line of seminarians and even though I grew up in it and eventually went to Luther Seminary and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, for years I was an actor and had NO INTEREST in anything that had to do with the church. So by the time I started school, not only did I feel like I didn’t know anything, but also I came from a creative background that valued different skills than the more academic aspects of a religious education. That’s what I appreciate about this book. It meets people who may not be coming into school with a degree in religion or philosophy.

If this is where you feel you are, here are some of my favorite aspects of this book:

(1) They give you examples of academic papers so you know what is expected of you. For example, they have exegetical papers, theological essays, research papers, reflection papers, journal articles, and sermons. You will have to do almost all of these (no matter your program) and it is helpful to know what is expected.

(2) Their appendices give extra tips like theological terms, style guides, and some recommended readings.

You may already know everything supplied already. However, if you feel clueless (like I did), I think this book will help you have a little more confidence as you start a great and challenging road.

What other books have you come across that have helped you?

* In the name of transparency, the author’s of “Research and Writing in the Seminary” do in fact teach and work at Garrett-Evangelical Seminary and Northwestern University where I attend. However, I have never met either author and I have not been paid to give this review. I just like the book.