Ph.D. Elements

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For those of you who do not know this–getting is Ph.D. in theology is not like getting a PH.D. or Doctorate in medicine. It does take years of clinicals or anything like that. But it definitely takes more than just having the right grades. You have to prove that you know everything about the dissertation you want to write and research. And unlike normal school, where you take “x” classes and they give you “x” degree, you actually study and research things, learn them so you can give that learning to others. (yeah-Knowledge is one of my spiritual gifts, so sue me 🙂 ) So here are the typical items for Ph.D. in theology:


a) studies in your specific emphasis (i.e. New testament, Old Testament, etc.) — I want to study Old Testament and especially prophets. I do well in this subject, LOVE reading Isaiah (as it jokingly state it solves all the world’s problems) and have always wanted to understand this very unique element of Jewish culture. Also, its story-telling. Which in academic terms is called “narrative theology.” I’m gradually realizing that while others were trained classical and systematically, I was trained to think story-like in my college classes. And that ties in with my love for reading, for language and using meaning with few words, or even no words. Or using words that paint a picture like Hebrew does for me. And it can be intertwined with the elements I love of church work-of liturgy/working with people and hearing their stories and maybe I am called to show how the text interweaves into people’s lives (So at least I got that narrowed down.)

b) a lot of language — I am also not threatened by this…but it is NOT easy. Those with doctorates in biblical languages have studied at least 5 languages. Greek, Hebrew, Latin, German, probably French, and their own language. They have also probably looked at Aramaic, other ancient near east languages in addition to possibly considering Chinese or Korean (since that’s where church is moving.). And you have to have this completed before your dissertation. Luckily, this is something I can work on now without leaving a job. And I love German so I’m exited about this requirement. Probably another confirmation I should be going for this degree.

C) speaking of dissertation…that’s the ending accomplishment that gets published. I actually beg to let me do this. I must be crazy. But it’s not about the title of Ph.D.but all the research and teaching I want to share with others as well as sink deeply into.

D) seeking a phD also requires studying under someone. I have struggled with this because I want to get with someone who is studying my topic but I don’t want to travel far. My husband and I just moved and I don’t want to uproot what we were trying to solidify. Or at least structure a little. Luckily I stared looking at those at Fuller and located someone I really like both as a scholar and an author. So hopefully contacts with that person will beach out into research and a degree. But contact is better than nothing.

I know I didn’t cover even a tenth of everything, but now it’s visible to see how much work and how much trying on God this is going to take. Mostly because again, I don’t know how this is going to work.

Please God help me get this done!

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