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!