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REL 102: The New Testament in Context (Cumming)

How to Use This Guide

This research guide will point you toward research resources and strategies available to you in REL 101.07 and REL 101.10.

You will find several tabs that will lead you to information resources useful for this course. They include:

  • Finding Books in Payson Library: Searching the library catalog to find materials and place holds
  • Finding Articles: How to access full text article databases
  • Using Information Ethically & Citing Effectively: How to cite resources using the SBL Handbook of Style and how to avoid plagiarism at Pepperdine.

Film Critique

Paper—Each student will watch one of these two films:
 • The Passion of the Christ (dir. Mel Gibson) 
 • The Nativity Story (dir. Catherine Hardwicke)

After viewing the film, each student will then write a historical and/or theological critique of the film.

The essential question should be: Is this film an accurate reflection of the historical and theological vision of the New Testament?

Each essay will have a thesis stated in the beginning, which is then argued throughout the body.

The student is required to use at minimum three academic sources.

Academic sources include books, book chapters, and academic journals other than the assigned texts. Academic sources DO NOT include: blogs, news websites (i.e. New York Times, Huffpost, etc.), popular websites (i.e.,, or any other non-peer reviewed source. It is best to stick to what is in the library. *CLASS LECTURES DO NOT COUNT AS A SCHOLARLY SOURCE*

All sources must be cited! Use whichever method is used for your major (i.e. MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.) and include a bibliography. The essay should be 1,300-1,500 words (not including bibliography), in 12 point with a standard font (i.e. Times New Roman).

Both film choices for this assignment will be available on reserve (DVD) from Pepperdine Libraries.


A commentary is a verse-by-verse discussion and analysis of a portion of the Bible. These tend to be arranged by series and each volume within a series covers a Biblical text. The criticism used in commentaries tends to vary by author, volume, or series.

Try searching the Library catalog using this subject heading: Bible Commentaries

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

These volumes will provide an overview or introduction to a particular topic.

Finding Articles

To find journal articles, try using the databases ATLA, which covers Religion periodicals, or Academic Search Complete, which is interdisciplinary.

Be sure to limit your results, so that only articles from peer-reviewed (scholarly) journals appear. You can do this on EBSCOhost via the search page:

For more on finding articles, click the corresponding tab on the left-hand side of the page.