On to the Dissertation

Though we informed everyone yesterday via Facebook, I wanted to share here for the few that may not have seen it. After months of preparing, stewing, worrying, and studying, I am thrilled to announce that I am officially ABD–I’ve completed and passed my written and oral comprehensive exams! The anxiety and uncertainty leading up to exams was not pleasant and I am beyond grateful that I don’t have to go through that again (well, I guess there’s the dissertation defense). The exams were very challenging and the oral exam was tough, but my examiners were gracious and helpful and were not out to stump me or cause me to fail. Where I was uncertain, they gave guidance and I am grateful for their wisdom and encouragement.

Now, on to the dissertation!

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On Pronouncing Greek

Like the majority of NT Greek students who began their journey with Koine Greek in a theological seminary, I was introduced and reared on the Erasmian scheme of pronunciation. I learned it, practiced it, and reinforced it over the years since I first cracked open Mounce’s intro text. However, more recently, I’ve made it a point to move to a modern scheme of pronunciation and now that I’ve been doing this for a little while now, I can hardly bear to listen to Greek fed through an Erasmian meat grinder. It’s been challenging to unlearn the way I “spoke” Greek for all these years, but it has been a rewarding practice and I can read more fluidly than I could several months ago. Admittedly, it’s hard to let go of something that was in place for so long and I still lapse back into it when I encounter particular diphthongs and the like.

I know there is considerable back and forth about which one is more correct, but it seems much more plausible that the modern scheme would be more akin to the ancient way rather than what Erasmus came up with. Nevertheless, I can think of one useful aspect of Erasmian Greek pronunciation—it can be helpful for more technical analysis of grammar, morphology, etc. For example, if a morphological change involves an ω and an ο (can’t think of an example right off hand), the Erasmian way would make an noticeable distinction in pronunciation between these vowels whereas the modern way would not. In such cases, this is helpful because the difference is one that we can hear and, presumably, this would help in identifying the change that has occurred. The same goes for the various Greek letters and diphthongs that have a long “e” sound. Now, this is easily countered by arguing that if one truly knows the language, phonological similarity would be less important because one would know the changes that occurred. I would think that in most cases, a vowel change would be accompanied with other changes since Greek is a highly inflected language.

Despite what pedagogical value Erasmian pronunciation may have, the most appealing factor for me in adopting the modern pronunciation is the way it sounds. Even listening to Erasmian Greek from someone who is very proficient sounds much clunkier and labored than modern.

The one thing that concerns me about all of this is entering the teaching side of things (which I ultimately plan to do). As far as I’ve seen, many seminaries employ Erasmus’ scheme, so what would I do in that case? What if other profs in the department teach pronunciation this way and I go the other? I could see where this would cause problems for students. I suppose in this scenario, I would go with whatever the others do for the sake of continuity.

Have any of you encountered this? What did you do?

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Several weeks ago, I submitted my last seminar paper. Since then, I’ve been working on my dissertation proposal and preparing/revising my study guides for comprehensive exams this fall.

Photo May 20, 10 39 58 AMIt’s overwhelming to think about taking these exams, even though they’re about five months away. I hate taking exams anyway, and the inherent importance of comps doesn’t help. The advice I’ve gotten along the way has been quite helpful and I’ll be poring over these for the next few months, so I feel I will do fine. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be weeping, gnashing of teeth, fits of rage, more hair loss, and bouts of delirium along the way!

But as I remind myself–I signed up for this!

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My New Study Aid

For my birthday last week, I received gifts that were nothing if not practical. For me, this is a good thing. The older I get, the more the things I want need to be of some use. In addition to clothes, accessories, and funds (!), I got something I’ve wanted for some time–a book stand! More specifically, it’s a Witzem Rosemary Book Stand and it’s a big one–it measures at practically 2′ x 1′–it’s huge!

Photo Mar 17, 10 41 06 PM

To give you an idea of the size, the pictures below feature BDAG, which is a behemoth of a book, and BDAG alongside BDF. How’s that for space?!

Photo Mar 17, 10 40 52 PMPhoto Mar 17, 10 41 46 PM

The size was part of the reason I wanted this particular one–it would have to be large enough to accommodate two books. I mean seriously, I never only have one resource open at a time, so this was a must. In addition to the size, a bookstand simply must keep the book open. I’m one who would never crack a book’s spine just so it will stay open, so this book stand appealed to me because it sports four flexible arms that swivel and can the pages at any point.  The stand itself is adjustable, so if I wanted to lay a book at a different angle, I could do so easily.

It has been a frustration of mine for many years that there was no good way to have multiples books open at once for easy reference. Now, I can at least have two open and know that the pages will stay put and I can refer to them easily while typing. Maybe I should get another?

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The Beginning of the End…

Well, sort of. Today marks the beginning of my last seminar of coursework in route to a PhD (only exams and dissertation will remain–piece of cake, right?).

This semester we will be studying the general epistles and Revelation, so there is plenty of fodder for lively discussions! I am a tad disappointed that my research for the semester will not have much relevance for my dissertation. The last few seminars have allowed me to research and write on topics that would in some way aid my later research, a bonus for sure, but since I’m writing on Paul it would be a stretch to tie the two areas together. Despite this, however, I am excited about my topic for the next few months. Basically I’ll be examining literary monsters/creatures from Greek and Roman literature and their relevance (if any!) to John’s Apocalypse. I’ve got a good start on it, but I always have an open ear to suggestions for resources. If you know of solid works that would relevant for this topic, please feel free to send me the info.


One More Down, One to Go

Yesterday I attended the last meeting of my fall seminar. The seminar was focused primarily on Greco-Roman backgrounds for NT study, though we addressed Jewish backgrounds on occasion. The worlds of ancient Greece and Rome have become a primary interest of mine, so I was glad to have to opportunity to take this seminar. I also had the opportunity to teach the last class session, which was an enjoyable experience.

Now that the semester is finished, I have one more semester of coursework left before I sit for comprehensive exams next September. The spring will be intense as I not only will have seminar work to do, but will have to complete the last phase of my dissertation proposal for submission and approval before  semester’s end. All the while, of course, I’ll be preparing for exams. No rest for the weary I suppose!

This first stage of my PhD is almost over and in some ways it’s hard to believe I’m already here; yet, in other respects it’s been a long road. At any rate, I’m glad for the temporary reprieve before spring semester arrives, albeit a somewhat tempered one. DVR, non-course reading, and holiday activities with the family will consume the calendar for the next few weeks and that’s fine with me!

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Need an Article

I am trying to track down an article and so far I have been unsuccessful. The article is by Hugo Greßman and is entitled “Mythische Reste in der Paradieserzählung.” It’s in Archiv für Religionswissenschaft 10 (1907). Anyone out there happen to have a copy/scan/pdf of it or have access to it and would be willing to traipse through six feet snow with nothing more than a cold biscuit and worn-out shoes to get it??? I would greatly appreciate it!
*UPDATE* (Boy that was fast!)
I found it here at the library. For some reason it didn’t show up on the electronic search, but I found it on the shelf. So, disregard this post if you haven’t already!
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