Identification essay

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  • Identification essay provides information about an individual, a place, or a historical event on the basis of the following questions:
  • Who or What?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • What significant role did this individual/place/event play in history?
  • Sample:
  • Mohammed
  • The founder of Islam, Mohammed (Mahomet) was born about 570AD in Mecca in what today is Saudi Arabia. When he was 40 years old, outside of Mecca he had visions of the angel Gabriel calling him to “recite” in the name of God the creator. He received revelations that were to become the first part of the Koran (Qua’ran) – the holy book of Islam. The Koran teaches faith in God, the coming judgment against unbelief, and the ideas of heaven and hell; it also describes duties appropriate to marriage, the family, and social life. Mohammed’s followers were called Muslims (Moslems) – “surrendered men,” since they had “surrendered” or submitted to one God (Allah).
  • By 630AD, Mohammed had raised a powerful army and had captured Mecca. After the death of Mohammed in 632, his successors were able to conquer all of the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East, and North Africa, and Spain establishing one of the greatest empires of the Middle Ages. Although the empire soon fell apart, Islam has continued its victorious rise in the Middle East and Asia and becoming the fastest growing religion in the world with about one billion followers.

Your essay will be evaluated by the following criteria:

  • Thesis – 20%
  • Does the introduction contain a clearly defined thesis stating an
  • arguable point? Does the introduction provide 2-3 general points that will be offered as proof to be defended in the body of the essay?
  • Body - 60%
  • Do the body paragraphs take the 2-3 points mentioned in the
  • introduction and analyze (rather than narrate) the topic, making good use of evidence drawn from the text book (cite page numbers) and lectures?
  • Essay’s structure, grammar, style – 20%
  • While the content and structure of the essay form the basis of the grade, poor handwriting and gross spelling errors will have a negative impact on your grade.

Comprehensive essay sample:

  • Question: Compare the basic principles of Judaism and Christianity. Why, in spite of its humble beginnings, did Christianity achieve the status of a world religion?
  • Although early Christians were persecuted, specific socio-economic and political circumstances forced Roman Emperors to embrace the new creed as a crucial universal bond that helped them solidify their rule and hold together the multicultural and multiethnic Roman Empire.
  • Judaism and Christianity are two related world religions. Judaism was founded by Abraham as a monotheistic religion – that is the belief in one, universal god. According to Judaist teachings, God and Abraham struck an agreement – the Covenant – according to which ancient Jews would believe and revere only one God. In exchange, God would love and protect Jews as the chosen people (I/34-35). The second important premise of Judaism is that God’s love to Jews is contingent upon their belief in him. If they stop following his guide, they will be punished. The oral traditions of Judaism were written down in the series of books called the Old Testament roughly between 500 and 300BC (II/143). Christianity took its roots from Judaism, and also is a monotheistic religion.
  • Yet, despite their close relationship, Christianity and Judaism took a different path of development eventually became hostile to each other. The point of rupture between the two religions was teachings of Jesus Christ, who defied the Jewish traditional religious establishment, and whose appeal to the masses won him a significant popular backing (I/46-47).

The founder of Christianity is believed to have been a man named Jesus. Born about 4AD in a Jewish family in Bethlehem, Palestine, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and followed his preaching of the coming of heaven and washed off his sins in the Jordan River. Jesus began preaching to the poor and sick in Judea – then a Roman province -- and convinced them to follow the teachings of God (II/173). The major tenet of this new religion -- called Christianity due to the Greek word Christos (the Messiah) – is the belief in one universal God, who loves and protects the human kind. Salvation and the kingdom of heaven are attainable by everyone who puts his/her trust in the All Mighty. Around 32AD, Jesus was apprehended by the Jewish leadership alarmed by his growing popularity among the masses, Fearful of Roman reprisals, Jewish elders handed Jesus over to the Romans, who crucified him. While Christianity started as a small religious group, it gradually attained wide following. Several reasons contributed to its growth. After Jesus’ death, his work was continued by charismatic leaders such as Peter and Paul, who gained popularity in Europe, especially Greece and Italy. Christianity offered salvation to everybody, regardless of social status and wealth – poor and rich, sick and healthy, princes and slaves. Therefore, it became especially popular with common people. The charismatic work carried out by Christian priests, and their dedication to the cause contributed to the fact that many affluent people supported and financed Christian institutions (II/189-191). While in the Roman Empire the Christians suffered persecution, the decline of the Empire compelled emperors to seek a device that would unify the diverse imperial population. Such a device was a single religion, and Christianity seemed to be popular enough to serve this purpose. In 313AD it was declared state religion, and from that moment on Christianity would eventually gain the status of world religion since the Roman Empire ruled on three continents, and thus Christianity affected many people of different cultures, languages, and histories (I/211-214). In spite of its humble beginnings, a strange creed preached by a Palestinian Jew named Jesus has become the most popular (numerically) religion of the world. Although Christianity evolved from Judaism, this affiliation was conveniently forgotten as the Christian Church turned against the Jews in the Middle Ages. The relation between the two religions remains strained until this very day.

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