This assessment task is designed to assess your ability to read, comprehend and communicate some basic concepts of theological enquiry within the Catholic tradition (Part 1), as well as reflect upon the impact of these on one’s own search for the truth on these matters (Part 2).
The Task: Choose a section or chapter from one of the Recommended Readings of a theology module you have completed. Your paper will have two parts: Part 1: (approx. 300 – 500 words): Briefly summarise your chosen article or chapter. This should include the key conclusions of the article or chapter, and the reasons offered for those conclusions.
Tips: Be sure to accurately communicate the author’s ideas – this will involve being attentive to their choice of words. Do not read into the author’s words what you think they want to or ought to say. Do not attempt to psychologise the author by getting ‘behind’ the text to their hidden motives. The goal here is accurately and fairly to communicate the arguments (premises and conclusions) of the other person. This section should avoid the use of evaluative language. Part 2: (approx. 1000 – 1200 words): How has this content confirmed, challenged or deepened your previous understanding of the topic? Give reasons to support your response. Refer to at least two other academic sources to help understand concepts in the chosen article or chapter, explain other relevant concepts which are introduced or demonstrate wider reading.
Tips: Begin by briefly giving the reasons and conclusions of your previous/current understanding. These may not be very systematic or clear, but in that case, an important part of reflecting is to acknowledge that.
Be sure to regularly refer back to the author’s reasons and conclusions when evaluating and discussing.
When reflecting on whether or how the article has deepened your understanding, consider questions like, ‘Has the author raised points I had not considered?’, ‘Do I have hidden presuppositions which need more thought?’, ‘Even though this is a conclusion I agree with, are these reasons valid?’, ‘Even though I disagree with the conclusion, does it actually follow from these reasons?’, etc.
Remember the goal is to arrive at the truth, therefore avoid politicising the issue (e.g., reducing it to party lines or jumping to political consequences), ad hominem attacks (e.g., ‘She is only saying that because she is a…’) and flights into relativism or scepticism (e.g., ‘It is different for everyone,’ or, ‘No-one knows’).
The criteria for assessing the Reflective Portfolio will be:
– Inclusion of all key concepts from the article.
– Identification of reasons for conclusions from the article.
– Concise inclusion of one’s own previous/current reasons and conclusions.
– Identification of the articles arguments which confirm, challenge or deepen one’s own understanding.
– Attempt to resolve conflicting claims or come to a new synthesis.
– At least two academic sources (in addition to the chosen article).
– Inclusion of relevant academic sources to define key terms, add clarity, acknowledge sources of ideas, etc.
– Consistency of referencing style.
(iv) Language and Grammar:
-Clarity of sentences.
-Paragraph structure and flow of argument.
-Avoidance of repetition.
– Any assessment which uses non-academic sources such as internet sites, blogs, online dictionaries, general websites (even university and government websites), or online (non-academic) encyclopaedias may receive a fail grade and may receive a mark of 1% Fail.
-Students are not allowed to use any non-academic internet or online sources, except in special circumstances where they have obtained written approval from the Course Coordinator. An example of a non-academic internet source is Wikipedia. An example of an acceptable academic internet source is The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
– Students struggling to find sufficient academic sources should seek help from the Logos teaching team or the campus library staff.
– If students present as their own work any quotes or ideas which come from someone else, without acknowledging the source, they have plagiarised and will fail the assessment. Please reference consistently and fully.
Articles to chose from:
• Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edn., (Strathfield: Pauline Books, 1997). In the library and also available online: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/ccc_toc.htm
• Achtemeier, P., Green, J., & Thompson, M. (eds.), Introducing the New Testament (Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2001)
• Shea, Mark, Making Senses out of Scripture (USA: Basilica Press, 1999)
• Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) in The Documents of Vatican II, London, Geoffrey Chapman, 1966.
• The Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Boston, Pauline Books, 1993.
First Vatican Council. “First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ.” July 18, 1870. https://www.ewtn.com/library/councils/v1.htm#6
Leo XIII. “Providentissimus Deus: On the Study of Holy Scripture.” Encyclical Letter. Vatican Website. November 18, 1893. http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_18111893_providentissimus-deus.html
Benedict XVI. Spes salvi. Encyclical Letter. Vatican Website. November 30, 2007. http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20071130_spe-salvi.html.
Frankl, Viktor E. Man’s search for meaning: the classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust. London: Rider, 2004.
Weigel, George. Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II. New York: Harper Perennial, 2005.
Christopher Hughes, Aquinas on Being, Goodness, and God (especially Chapter 5, “Goodness and Happiness”)
John Paul II, Fides et ratio (Faith & Reason) at: