What is an analytical essay? The type of academic assignment is a piece of writing that you, as the author, use to critique, analyze, and interpret a particular work of art, event, person, or situation. In general, the analytical essay is a tool that you use to cut up the topic into several ingredients (subtopics) that you later analyze in order to synthesize information and draw up the right conclusions.
Academic assignment in Religious Studies can be difficult to implement due to the unique nature of the subject. In addition to the interdisciplinary status of the discipline, the academic study of religion requires one to have more than just knowledge of the existing beliefs, texts, and practices. Besides, you’re required to juggle various terms in Sociology, History, Hermeneutics, Linguistics, and Anthropology. For that reason, you’re expected to familiarize yourself with a great variety of different theories and practices that you will employ in your text later. Once you’re well-versed in using all the existing historical, ethnographic, comparative, sociological, textual, and hermeneutical approaches, you’ll see that Religious Studies are actually both highly challenging and fascinating at the same time.
It is important to decide on the core of your analytical essay. As a rule, this type of academic projects includes a thorough analysis or is based on a solid opinion. Usually, college students are required to analyze a certain religious event or literary work; however, you may be asked to write an analytical essay on a problem or issue. So, at this point, your task is to decide what you’re going to write about.
If you write an analytical essay for a college Religion class, the tutor usually provides you with a topic to analyze. Make sure to read the task attentively. If it’s the case when you’re given a chance to choose your own topic, you may start working on your essay with the thoughts like ‘How do I start this paper?’ As an option, you can discuss a historical event from the perspective of Religion. If that’s your topic, analyze the driving forces that influenced the events. For instance, if you decide to write on the Hundred Years’ War in France, make sure to write your essay from the perspective of Jeanne d’Arc and analyze why The Maid of Orleans was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint.
When beginning to think about your analytical essay topic in Religious Studies, one of the first things that you should do is to set up a good question. Once you do that, you will have to use every sentence to answer the question sufficiently. For example, a nice question for an analytical essay in Religion might sound as follows, ‘On the basis of a close reading of A Life Path of Martin Luther, analyze Luther’s ways of thinking theologically about the sale of indulgences, the penitential system, and the afterlife. In what way do scriptural influences fuel up Luther’s conflict with papal authority?’
Keep in mind that a good question for an analytical essay in Religious Studies asks ‘why’ or ‘how’ instead of ‘what.’
As has already been stated, Religious Studies are closely interconnected with many other fields of study. The most important thing for you when picking the right topic is to make sure that no matter what issue you choose to analyze, you’ll be able to do it with due respect to the religious views of your readers.
Here is our special list of topics that you can either write an analytical essay on or use for inspiration to come up with your own topic:
Finding the right question is a superb place to start, but that’s just the beginning. What is the next step to take? In point of fact, there are two basic techniques that most professional writers recommend – freewriting and outlining. While freewriting enables you to turn off that critical voice in your head and write down every single idea that pops up, outlining is about created a ‘map.’ Provide different sections of your analytical essay and insert the main points that you’re going to make in each.
It’s a well-known fact that freewriting is a technique that provides you with the finest ideas, but when you have loads of pages of freewriting, you will face the necessity to choose the best pieces of information, as well as recognize them into a clear and coherent form.
In college, every other writing assignment includes a strong thesis that is like the core of the project, its very essence. In the case with the analytical essay, a solid thesis statement must comply with three main criteria: it should be original, debatable, and interesting.
When we say that you have to write an original thesis statement, we mean that you are the one who has to produce it. The point here is that you can’t borrow or steal your thesis from the source you’ve been reading. Basically, your thesis statement is your own answer to the questions that you’re asking of the essay text or other evidence.
Apart from being original, the thesis statement of your analytical essay must be debatable and arguable. In other words, there must be solid and real-life evidence for your thesis. The point is that there are many theses that are attention-grabbing but not supportable without checking dozens of libraries, books, websites, and all the other information resources. Here are two examples of the theses that you’ll definitely fail to argue due to the fact that they require tons of data and facts:
Example 1: ‘Kierkegaard argued that the historical Socrates used his irony to ease the birth of subjectivity in his interlocutors that influenced other traditions.’ (The problem here is that in order to prove this statement you will have to do a complex investigation and comparison, with data and facts taken from many different traditions. The task is next to impossible.)
Example 2: ‘The Great Awakening in the United States was among the weighty moments in the history of religion.’ (Again, you see the scope that is too general. Telling this means demonstrating that all the other moments weren’t that weighty.)
When writing an analytical essay in Religious Studies, make sure you:
In addition to everything mentioned above, make sure you don’t:
As you can see, analytical essay writing in Religious Studies is not just a way of expressing your points of view of any religious issues. It is a process that structures and organizes your thinking, providing you with an opportunity to turn interesting ideas and random issues into cogent theories.
It is not a surprise that writing an analytical essay is one of the best ways to master Religious Studies, and mastering essay writing is an integral step you have to take to graduate.