Thursday, October 6, 2011

on being a Blockhead (in the best sense of the word)

All of Dr. Block's students, present and past, are known as the 'Blockheads.' Having a short-hand way of referring to my colleaues has been handy. As in, "Today I'm having lunch with the Blockheads."

We have the joy of eating together every other week in Wheaton's 5-star cafeteria (I'm not kidding, it's consistently rated in the top five cafeterias in the country). The best part is not the food, though, but the great conversations we have with each other. Someone usually comes with an announcement (such as, "I have an interview tomorrow!" or "I finished writing a chapter yesterday!"), and there are always questions ("Dr. Block, can you explain the way covenants work in the Old Testament?" or "Can anyone recommend the best text book to use on the Minor Prophets?").

During our most recent two lunches, Dr. Block has resorted to writing on a napkin to illustrate what he is trying to explain. My only regret is that I did not rescue those napkins from the trash can. They should have been framed, not incinerated! It would be one way of making time stand still the way I wish it would when Dr. Block is drawing from his deep reservoir of knowledge and wisdom and sharing it with the rest of us.

Dr. Block is probably the world's best supervisor. I was told that before I came, but now I know it for myself. In academia it's hard to find someone with both a warm heart and a sharp mind. Dr. Block has both in abundance. The joke around here is that when Dr. Block is part of the conversation, sooner or later it comes back to Deuteronomy, which he calls "The Gospel According to Moses."

That's why I'm super excited about Dr. Block's latest book, just released a few weeks ago. The world has been waiting for his NIV Application Commentary on Deuteronomy ... and that's in the works. (Believe me, it's good! I'm reading a draft right now.) Meanwhile Wipf & Stock has gathered 8 fabulous essays on particular texts of Deuteronomy that Dr. Block wrote for other venues and bound them in this one volume. Be on the lookout for volume 2, due to hit the shelves by Christmas. The second volume of collected essays will treat various themes in Deuteronomy.

If you take my advice and buy yourself a copy, I won't get any commission, but you'll have my dissertation in a nutshell (chapter 3). You'll also have my name in print! Can you find me? The last 8 names are Dr. Block's current students who are in various stages of writing their dissertations (all are pictured in the photo above except Rahel, who wasn't able to come, and me, because I'm taking the picture).

What a tremendous privilege it is to be a Blockhead!


  1. I wonder if Austin knows his name is in print, too! I'll have to e-mail him the link. :)