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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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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Biblical Studies, Greco-Roman World, New Testament, Seminary

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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Moving On

I’m sure all three of my readers have noticed that I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for quite a while. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say it’s been a crazy year. Over the last few months my time has been given to writing my thesis and preparing for exams. As I mentioned a while back, DTS’ PhD entrance process is a bit different (read here for my brief synopsis). Well, I am glad to say that after several months of reading, writing, and studying, I will be starting Stage 2 in January! My thesis is done and I passed both written and oral exams, thus ensuring that I move onto the next phase of my degree. To say I am relieved is an understatement. I’ll start seminars in the spring and I’ll have two: Old Testament Backgrounds and History of New Testament Interpretation and Criticism. While the last couple of years class-wise have been ThM-level classes with additional work, the spring brings full-fledged doctoral seminars. I’ll have about 60-70 pages of writing for research papers and about 2500-3000 pages of reading. I’m going to try and enjoy my time off before jumping into the fire.

Who knows–maybe I’ll even blog again!

Here’s the cup from which I shall drink.

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Thesis Progress

I’m finding that writing a thesis is a bit different than what I am accustomed to writing. I have written a good many exegetical papers and feel quite comfortable writing them, but my thesis is only partly exegetical, so it’s proving to be a bit more of a challenge (a good thing to be sure).

My thesis will be comprised of five chapters. I’ve begun on introdcutory matters, which are divided into four subsections, and have written right around 1,100 words thus far. I hope to keep the first chapter at about 1,500 words so that I leave plenty of room for chapters two-four, which will be the meat of the thesis. I have a 10,000-word limit (*correction: that should be 12,000), so I’ll have to be careful to say enough well rather than maxing out my limit unecessarily.

Anyway, more updates as they come.

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One more paper…

…and I’m finished for the semester!

As most of you know, I began the PhD program at Dallas Theological Seminary in the spring of 2010. Well, at the end of this semester I will have reached the first milestone. The way DTS’ PhD program is set up is a little different than other schools I looked into. Basically, if your masters degree is not an MA or ThM (basically a research degree), then you have to start at what is called Stage 1. Because I earned an MDiv this is where I had to begin. Stage 1 is 26 hours of ThM classes with additional reading and work and a thesis. So, after I turn in my last paper in a couple of weeks, I will have finished all the course work for Stage 1!

Next semester, then, I will only be working toward completing the thesis, which implies that my topic has been approved and readers have been assigned! It will be strange not going to class 3-4 days a week (my car and credit card will be grateful!), but I look forward to the break in commuting. Oh there will still be trips to the library and to meet with my advisers, but they will be far less frequent than what I’ve been doing. I also look forward to focusing all my efforts on one task–I’ve never been good at multitasking. Last semester I had five papers to write and that pushed me right up to the deadline. It’s good practice for what lies ahead, but I will be glad to focus on writing one paper (albeit a long one).

Once I finish my thesis (which I hope to finish by semester’s end; cf James 4:15!), I will focus on Stage 2 entrance exams. Once exams are done (and passed obviously!), it’s on to the part that most associate with doctoral work–research seminars and more reading than is humanly possible. Though getting back in the saddle in Stage 1 has been a challenge (time-management wise), Stage 2 promises to be positively brutal and I already get the sense that I will be slightly overwhelmed. No, greatly overwhelmed! But I know that I can depend on God’s grace and strength and the support of my family to make it through.

But, when days come and I think that I’ll never get through this, I remind myself–You signed up for this! So as punishing as the next few years will be academically, it is the road I have long felt called to travel and I am confident that whatever God has in store at the end of this road will be what he wants for us.

Now, having said all that, back to this last paper.

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