Me


It has now been almost 5 months since my last post. My absence has been due to 1) moving to a new country, 2) not having internet in our home for the first 3 months, 3) starting a doctoral program, and 4) not being sure how to fit the concept of blogging into my life as a PhD student.

In essence I’m questioning how much time and effort I should put into ‘joining the online discussion.’ I’m working hard to just do my PhD stuff, learn French and German, keep building my Greek and Hebrew skills, not to mention work on my research. If I keep up with this blog I think it will become a place I will post thoughts about my research, book reviews or things like that. I have decided that I feel no pressure to ‘join’ any community. This blog is a place for me to put down some of my thoughts. So, as good as the discussion online is, I feel no pressure to comment on other people’s blogs or to necessarily respond to everyone who comments on mine. I welcome all people to read my thoughts, but I have to be careful that my blog be an addition to my ongoing education not a detraction from it.

All that is to say, I’m not sure where this blog is going, but I’m not quite ready to give up on it. We’ll see.

Well, we have now made it to Durham and we are beginning to settle. I haven’t quite managed to get into a routine of research yet, but I think that I will really like it at Durham. It really is a fantastic place. For example, so far in my few weeks here I have had class with Francis Watson on Theological Hermeneutics, had lunch with and had class with Walter Moberly and have spent a morning with Jimmy Dunn helping him move and chatting about all things Bible and faith (for those of you who are up on theological or biblical studies at all, you know that what I’ve just done there is name dropping). So far so good.

As for this blog, obviously I haven’t posted in quite some time. However, we’ve made the move and life is beginning to settle in a routine so I hope to use this blog as a forum to discuss topics related to my research and interests. Thus, I hope to be blogging on things I’m reading and thinking about in the areas of: 1 Samuel, Septuagintal Research, narrative criticism and theological hermeneutics. Hopefully, this will become a good place to ‘host’ some of my thoughts.

Update: And I have now sat through a presentation from J. Cheryl Exum (Sheffield University) on the Song of Songs.

We are now sitting at Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle, WA. We are on our way to Durham! It is exciting that this is finally here. Hopefully, I will be able to pick up more blogging after the move. Thanks to all who helped us get here whether by actions or by prayer!

Jim West and John Anderson have posted their reflections on 9/11/2001. Though this blog post may say 9/12, it’s still 9/11 (albeit 10:17 pm) where I am in the Northwest US. I still remember 9/11 too, and I thought I’d offer my reflections.

I was a freshman, living in dorms at Trinity Western University in Langley, BC, Canada. I remember my RA coming into my room and waking me up quite frantic. “They’re bombing the World Trade Center,” he said. I got up in half a stooper and joined the half a dozen other American students from my floor. We went to our RD’s office (the closes TV with cable) and watched as they showed, over and over again the second plane hitting the south Tower. 

I remember having to go to my intro to philosophy class. My professor was so affected by the events that he said he didn’t know what to say. So we spent a few minutes in prayer and then he dismissed the class. Soon after that, a notice from the university was sent out canceling classes for the whole day.

I went back to my dorm, still in shock, and watched more of the news. I must have seen that second plane hit the south tower three dozen times that day. 

Shortly after that, that same day, they held a special chapel. There was a short message (from the President of the University, I think). Then, they asked all of the American students to stand up. The Canadian students and faculty then gathered around us and prayed for us. I remember being very moved and feeling that the whole experience was very surreal.

The rest of the day was busy finding out about this friend and that friend’s family member who was in New York, and figuring out if they were ok.

I remember most, being an American in Canada and the feeling when the Canadians in chapel prayed for us. It was a profound moment. I felt the sense of tragedy most, when us Americans were prayed for by our fellow Canadian students. Strangely, I felt that I could deal with that sense of tragedy best in that same situation. Maybe it was their sense of empathy. Maybe it was because in that moment we were not Americans and Canadians, we were humans. I’ll never forget it. I still remember too.

I have not found time to post on this blog since my wife and I are currently in the middle of our move to England. I don’t see any blogging light on the immediate horizon so I doubt that I will be blogging much of anything over the next few weeks. Hopefully, however, I will resume blogging as an official PhD student with reinvigorated posts on Hebrew narrative, theological interpretation of Scripture, and the character of David.

I just completed my oral exam for my ThM. It was one half a defense of my thesis and one half an oral exam of the coursework that I’ve done here at Western. The good news is that I was given a “pass with distinction.” Whew! I am very happy about this. My time at Western has been very beneficial but I do look forward to being able to move on to new things (and new places).

Now if I can only get this visa process figured out I’ll be set. Thanks to all who have prayed for me and listened to me complain and struggle through this process. It has been a rewarding experience!

Words: 51,400, footnotes: 530, pages: 133, finishing the first draft of my ThM thesis: PRICELESS!

Yes, that gag is overdone, but it still made me chuckle, and that’s the point. . . isn’t it? Maybe not. Anyway a big part of my work is done. Most of my thoughts are now on paper. Now I just need to work on making them good and coherent thoughts. 

Title: “The Story of the Vineyard: Jesus’ Retelling Isa. 5:1-7 in the Parable of the Wicked Tenants”

I don’t often listen to Christian radio, but this morning I was glad I did. As I was driving to work I happened to hear the song, “The One Thing that I know” by Jars of Clay. I have heard this song numerous times, but this time the importance of its message really struck home to me.

In the context of speaking about the crucifixion, and the redemptive nature of the crucifixion, the song repeats the chorus line:

This is the one thing,
The one thing that I know.

It finally struck my how true and important this is. As a student, specifically of the Old Testament, I frequently find myself wrestling with such issues as the historicity of the OT (or the minimalist vs. maximalist debate) or other historical critical issues regarding the OT. However I come down on these issues it is important to remember that it is the death and resurrection of Christ that is THE ONE THING THAT I KNOW!

Evangelicals (or at least some) may condemn me for admitting to be lenient on issues of inerrancy or the historical reliability of the OT, but the truth is I’m epistemologically humble. There are very few things that I claim to know for certain. One thing I do claim to know is the truth and significance of the death and resurrection of Christ. That is enough for me.

There are several good, if less than encouraging, discussions of why or why not to do a PhD in Biblical Studies out in the blogosphere (e.g., see here and here). In light of such daunting realities someone, like me, who is beginning the process of a PhD in biblical studies must necessarily defend their decision to do so. I can’t really advise anyone on what they should do, all I can do is tell my story. So here it goes…

 

My story begins in college as an Undecided Major, tossing around majoring in English, Biblical Studies, Music and Business. At the advice of my father and my practical nature I decided on Business, but I reserved the right to do a biblical studies minor. The first class that really piqued my interest in biblical studies was a class on Israelite Religion. The professor was Craig C. Broyles, and it really planted the seed of excitement for studying the biblical texts. Years later, as a Senior, I was talked into being a mentor (read teaching assistant) for a freshman class on integrating Christian thinking into a holistic education. I hated the class when I took it, but I loved leading my once a week discussion groups. It was there that the first seeds of a desire to teach were planted.

 

From there I went to Seminary. I realized that much of what I believed was spoon fed to me, so I wanted to further my education regarding what I believed. It was there, writing my first real research papers that I began to realize that I loved the academic study of theology and biblical studies. At this point I had affirmed to myself 1) a desire to teach, and 2) a love of academic biblical studies. If this were all I had to go on, I would probably be looking for a job right now. But, add to these realizations the affirmations of the leadership of my church and several professors that this is a good fit for me, and that I would be able to contribute to knowledge and to the church, I began to seriously plan on partaking in doctoral studies.

 

I realize that my prospects for a job are not great. It is a tough market out there for PhD’s and with the economic environment it looks like it might get worse for a time. But I also realize that this is what I desire to do, it is what I have been confirmed by family and friends as what I would be good at. So I believe that this is, in some sense, my calling. I am not one of those who went to Seminary to become a pastor but then changed his mind to try teaching instead, thinking that if teaching doesn’t pan out I can always fall back on pastoring. For me, the teaching was always the point. Now, if I go this route and never land a tenure position in a University or college does that mean I was wrong about this being my calling? No. Right now, all I know is that my route is taking me to Durham to earn a PhD in biblical studies. I would love to teach at a university with that degree, but I am open to what comes my way. Ultimately I am being trained for whatever role life has for me. No matter what I do, I will be a servant of Christ and of the Church, so I don’t think my training will be wasted in any way. My wife and I are both ready to take on whatever comes, and we both realize that the future may not look anything like what we decide, but we’re going for it.   

Apparently I have now been blogging for over a year. My first post was March 21, 2008 and here it is April 21, 2009. So I’m a month late. Anyway, I thought it was worth noting that I have lasted a year in the blogging world. I have not been as regular a poster as I wanted, nor have I made as many significant posts as I originally intended, nor have I carried on my Septuagintal Saturdays which I enjoyed so much. But all in all, this has been a positive experience.

I have intentionally kept a low profile in the blogging world, most of the people who read this blog are family, friends, or the occasional person who wanders over this way from some bizarre google search. I hope that I can continue my moderate posts on this blog as Sarah and I look forward to moving overseas to this new point in our life. It may be that this blog takes a more family oriented tone, as we use it to let our family and friends keep tabs on us in England, or it may be that it takes a more academic tone as I use it to disseminate my doctoral studies, only time will tell. 

Anyway, thanks to all who have read this blog and encouraged me along the way.

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