Today, a Sparkler wrote in to ask, "Can you help me streamline this argument?"
Throughout the book of Genesis, there are many sets of opposites as God creates heaven and earth. Among them are heaven and earth and darkness and light. Sets of two make many appearances in this specific book of the Bible. In Chapters One through Three of Genesis, there are many references to sets of opposites or doubles.
Soon though, the array of creatures and people He set upon the earth prove to be different than originally expected. In the beginning there was nothing. God created heaven and the earth. After dividing His creation, He then divided it again. The earth is then split up into many sets of opposites, including sunlight and moonlight and land and water. God sets animals of all kinds upon the earth and has them multiply. God created Man in His own image out of dust and later gave man a companion, Woman. He places them both in a paradise, the Garden of Eden. There are two trees, the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, from which Man and Woman may not eat and here things begin to change. God inadvertently gives them a choice. It is almost like the first social experiment ever. They may eat from any tree, except the Tree of Knowledge. If they eat from that tree, they will die. When Woman, now called Eve, eats from the tree at the temptation of the serpent, evil is allowed to enter the world. This is where this story gets interesting.
Good lord (no pun intended). I would streamline this argument, but I have no idea what it is.
I see three major problems here.
There's no sentiment so interesting that you need to repeat it three times in the same paragraph. Look at these phrases:
Throughout the book of Genesis, there are many sets of opposites
Sets of two make many appearances in this specific book
there are many references to sets of opposites or doubles
They all say exactly the same thing. Keep one and get rid of the other two.
2. Summary without analysis
The majority of your paper must consist of analysis. Yes, in academic papers, you must do SOME summarizing—but only the bare minimum (unless your assignment is to summarize). Every bit of summarizing you do must be tied to analysis. Think of summary as the plain white plate on which you're serving your delicious entree of analysis. Summary supports the analysis, but it's not the main event.
It's okay to tell us that God made paradise and put Adam and Eve there—but only if you're about to express an opinion about WHY he does this, or HOW, or WHAT IT MEANS. Otherwise, you're just telling us stuff we already know, and that's boring.
3. No clear argument
I see two very interesting points amid all this summarizing:
--God creates pairs of opposites
--Two of those opposites (Adam and Eve) must choose between two other opposites (the trees)
But these genuinely fascinating observations aren't tied together in an ingenious bow yet. What the writer must do now is think hard about what those two ideas mean, and how they work together. That's how he'll nail down his thesis. It's like solving a Rubik's Cube: maddening, time-consuming, and ultimately very satisfying.
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