Tuesday, January 10, 2012

first day of classes

After a thoroughly delightful week of "vacation" spent in my study carrel (studying whatever I wanted to study with no pressing deadlines!), the semester has officially begun. Now I have the joy of reading what others feel I ought to read (thankfully they all have good taste). All of my classes meet on Tuesdays, all in the same building. Here's the line-up:

Intro to Doctoral Studies (January only) - Dr. Daniel Block
Theological Hermeneutics (February through April) - Dr. Daniel Treier
Exegesis of Ezekiel - Dr. Daniel Block
Ancient Near Eastern Backgrounds - Dr. John Walton

You might have seen Dr. Walton's name before . . . on the IVP Bible Background Commentary (Old Testament), the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (5 vols), the Genesis commentary in the NIV Application Commentary Series, The Lost World of Genesis One, or even, perhaps, on the Tiny Tots Jesus Story Book. He wrote Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament as a course textbook for this class, and so far, it is just the thing I needed. It is such a privilege to learn from a respected expert in the field. Dr. Walton and his wife love to show hospitality to students, and I'll be in their home for the second time later this month.

I have another 6,000+ pages to read this semester, and believe it or not, I'm looking forward to all of it. I also have 2 papers to write, a number of book reviews and shorter essays, and one major hurdle to clear: my proposal defense. On April 11, I will present and defend my dissertation proposal. All of the PhD faculty will be present to ask questions about my proposal and point out areas of weakness. When I have revised the proposal to their satisfaction, I then have approval to begin working on my dissertation (a 300-page scholarly contribution to the field). I have a rough draft of the proposal already, which was part of my application last year. This weekend I plan to give it a thorough revision.

In exchange for the generous scholarship provided by Mina Marie Johnson through the school, I am also working 8-10 hrs/week as a research assistant for Dr. Block. Several publishing projects are on the front burner this month, and I'm learning what must happen behind the scenes for a book to make it in print. There's nothing glamorous about compiling an index, but many people will use it who are looking for help to understand the scriptures. Even this tedious work is a ministry to people I will never meet, a way of introducing the world to the work of my mentor.

Yes, my hands are full . . . and so is my heart. What a joy to be in this place at this time for this purpose!


  1. Go get 'em, Carmen! I can relate to the great study days following a nice week off.

  2. Hi Carmen,
    Looks like a great read. I wondered if you have any comments on a book that Alan Wilkerson read and recommended to me (it has been on my shelf for a while waiting for me). It is "Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes" by Kenneth Bailey. I noticed an endorsement on the back by Lynn Cohick of Wheaton.

    Uncle Rick

  3. Uncle Rick,

    I had not heard of this book before now, but if it has Lynn Cohick's stamp of approval, you can bet it will be worth reading. She and I had lunch together in December. Not only is she a talented scholar, she's great to hang out with. I spent a few minutes on Amazon looking at the other reviews printed in the book. It's a virtual who's who of NT studies! Craig Evans and Craig Keener are excellent scholars (I've met both of them, too). So, if you're asking whether the book is reputable and worth reading, my answer is a definite "yes!" If you're asking my opinion of what Bailey says, you'll have to wait until I have time to read it. (And that my be a while...) :) I am always thrilled to see books that help us read the Bible from the perspective of the original audience. When you get a chance to read it, be sure to let me know what you think!