"St. Paul at the Movies"
Research Project
last update: 27 March 2007


This project is a way to incorporate contemporary cultural analysis/critique with theological analysis/critique of a central theme of Paul's "gospel," as conveyed in the undisputed seven-letter corpus.


Students will design a two-part project comprising a critical, theological exploration of a contemporary film in dialogue with one of the keynotes of Paul’s “gospel.” The final project then will be presented to the class, and the student will lead a discussion of the theological theme which was the focus of the project.
  1. The first part of the assignment will be a research paper detailing this thematic, theological exploration.
    1. Research Guidelines:
      1. In order to have a clear understanding of the Pauline theme under discussion, this will require consultation of a minimum of 10–12 commentaries, Bible dictionaries, journal articles, and other standard print resources for Biblical studies.
      2. No Internet resources are permitted for the discussion of the Pauline corpus without prior approval from the Instructor.
      3. A minimum of 4–6 secondary sources discussing the film should be consulted and incorporated into the essay.
      4. Some of the secondary sources discussing the film may be reputable Internet publications, but complete authorship information must be available and included in the essay’s Select Bibliography.
    2. Writing Guidelines:
      1. Remember to use specific scenes in the film to illustrate your points.
      2. Also, be sure to make specific references to the seven undisputed Pauline letters and to secondary sources in support of your theological claims.
      3. Scriptural references are to be incorporated as parenthetical notes in the body of the text (e.g., Gal 3:16–18), but secondary source materials should be cited in footnotes.
      4. Footnotes and the Select Bibliography should follow The Chicago Manual of Style.
      5. If Internet sources are used for discussion of the film, the first citation of a given source must include an annotation that indicates why it is a reputable and academically reliable source for this kind of critical analysis.
      6. See Dr. McGinn's Writing web for other guidelines and resources.
    3. Deadlines: This assignment will undergo multiple drafts, including one that is peer reviewed.
      See the course schedule for due dates for the various drafts.
    4. Submission: The final draft should be submitted both in hard copy and digital form.
  2. The second part of the assignment comprises a short class presentation, followed by peer response, Q&A, and class discussion.
    1. Presentation & Response Guidelines:
      1. The presentation will be allotted 7–10 minutes.
      2. It should include a synopsis of the written study, with any pertinent audio-visual aids to help the class understand the key points of your theological analysis of the film.
      3. This will be followed by a brief peer response (3–5 minutes) to the presentation, pointing out interesting arguments made by the presenter and raising one or two questions for class discussion.
      4. Finally, there will be a brief Q&A period (5–10 minutes) with the entire class, and a group discussion of the theological theme that was the focus of the project.
    2. Deadlines: See the course schedule for the due date for the presentation plan, and for the actual class presentation/discussion.
    3. Submission: As with the project, the presentation should be submitted in hard copy as well as digital form.


The project will be evaluated based on the "St. Paul at the Movies" research project grading protocol. The presentation will be evaluated by the Instructor and all the students, including the presenter and respondent, using the "St. Paul at the Movies" presentation grading protocol.