While courses in Bible and theology typically require research papers, particularly at the graduate level, very few include training in research. Professors have two options: use valuable class time to teach students as much as they can, or lower their standards with the understanding that students cannot be expected to complete tasks for which they have never been prepared.
From Topic to Thesis: A Guide to Theological Research offers a third option. This affordable and accessible tool walks students through the process, focusing on five steps: finding direction, gathering sources, understanding issues, entering discussion and establishing a position. Its goal is to take students directly from a research assignment to a research argument—in other words, from topic to thesis.
“The first key to finding direction is that you should not come into the research process having already decided what your paper is going to argue.” (Page 45)
“The third key is that in the initial phase of your research, you should not touch a secondary source.” (Page 46)
“The fourth and final key is to remember that research is first and foremost about primary sources” (Page 57)
“The first key to gathering secondary sources is that you should not spend too much time on any one source.” (Page 56)
“The second thing to remember is that there is a fine line between redirecting and getting distracted” (Page 56)
Kibbe's From Topic to Thesis is a concise but complete course in the art and science of theological research and writing, complete with five sharply focused aims and objectives: find, gather, understand, enter into discussion, establish. Unlike assembly instructions for things like bookshelves, Kibbe's directions are easy to follow, providing everything one needs to know to write and sustain a theological thesis (except the theology). I said 'thesis' and not 'topic' because Kibbe encourages me not to confuse them (a topic is a subject area; a thesis is a specific claim about that area). This is only one of the many practical bits of wisdom readers will find herein.
--Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Michael Kibbe's compact guide delivers a lot of practical wisdom for those beginning to write theological research papers. Other guides can be so long that assigning them competes with the actual reading and writing you want students to undertake! By contrast, this one gets to the point and gives concrete examples without denying the mysteries of the research process.
--Daniel J. Treier, Wheaton College
This small handbook is precisely what every beginning theology student needs to write a coherent, well-argued, properly researched essay. Mike Kibbe is not only a master teacher (his instructional style is evident throughout) but he is a master researcher (whose recent PhD demonstrates his fresh skills). Let Kibbe become your coach and encourager. If you do, you'll find guidance for how to organize that winning research project. You'll find lists of common errors that countless students make. But above all, you'll discover a gold mine of wisdom that I wish we could put into the hands of every student who sets out to write a paper.
--Gary M. Burge, Wheaton College
In the Logos Reader Edition, this volume is enhanced to best fit the content. Scripture references are hand-tagged to integrate with powerful functionality in Logos Bible Software. Page milestones and internal citation tagging provide accurate points of reference. Search important words across resources to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive tools for reading digital content are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.