Frame on Writing a Theological Paper

John Frame
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I get asked by friends sometimes on how to write book reviews. It’s hard for me to give a definitive answer to their question. The only way I know how to go with book reviews is with practice, reading, and struggling through what I’ve read to actually compile my thoughts into an essay, or for that matter a book review.

But for my inability to explain throughly or understandably how I hone my on brand of writing there are others out there who are capable of doing so. John M. Frame who is a philosopher/theologian who is responsible for books such as “The Doctrine of God” and “The Doctrine of the Word of God” (for more information on his books go here or visit this website dedicated to the works of Frame and Vern Poythress which has loads of theological articles).

Frame has made available a chapter from his book (with permission by P&R publishing) “The Doctrine of the Word of God” on “How to Write a Theological Paper.” For me personally, I really benefited from points number 7…here’s a little snippet of what he says there:

7. Ask, then, What do I want to tell my audience on the basis of my research? Determine one or more points that you think your readers, hearers, viewers (etc.) ought to know. The structure of your presentation should be fully determined by that purpose. Omit anything extraneous. You do not need to tell your audience everything you have learned. Here are some things you might choose to do at this point. (a) Ask questions. Sometimes a well-formulated question can be edifying, even if the theologian has no answer. It is good for us to learn what is mysterious, what is beyond our comprehension. (b) Analyze a theological text or group of them. Analysis is not “exposition” (above) but “explanation.” It describes why the text is organized or phrased in a certain way—its historical background, its relations to other texts, and so forth. (c) Compare or contrast two or more positions. Show their similarities and differences. (d) Develop implications and applications of the texts. (e) Supplement the texts in some way. Add something to their teaching that you think is important. (f) Offer criticism—positive or negative evaluation. (g) Present some combination of the above. The point, of course, is to be clear on just what you are doing. (Taken from the source:


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