Friday, September 23, 2011

Exciting Fall

It’s the fall again, my favorite time of year. As a sports fan fall is exciting because football is available for mass consumption every weekend at every level, from high school boys to professional athletes. Fall is a fantastic season because of the colors, smells and temperatures. Summer heat gives way to breezy sweat-shirt weather.  The rich green leaves yield to bright yellows, brilliant reds and explosive oranges. The scent of burning charcoal briquettes wafts from tailgates and backyards. The reason I love fall most is the beginning of a new academic year. New students are beginning the journey. Seasoned students are starting the routine again. It’s just a wonderful time to be studying.

This fall I embark on my newest and most challenging research project yet – my thesis. For the sake of what I hope this project will become, I will only say that it concerns Paul’s use of the OT in Romans, and it’s not focused on Romans 1-4 or 9-11. Intrigued? I hope so.

An important part of producing a good thesis is having helpful readers to provide advice, critique and encouragement at appropriate times. Despite the untimely loss of my primary advisor in Dr. Robert Lowery to a lengthy battle with cancer, I am thankful to have Dr. Anthony Le Donne as my primary reader. Anthony is an accomplished scholar who specializes in Jesus studies and Second Temple Judaism. His PhD dissertation, published as The Historiographical Jesus, focused on social memory and historiography applied to historical Jesus studies, which he wrote under James Dunn and John M. G. Barclay at Durham. His more recent book, Historical Jesus: What we can know and how we can know it?, is a popular-level account of what social memory can teach us about Jesus. Needless to say, Anthony is an accomplished scholar.

Anthony also happens to be an incredibly generous person. He has been an invaluable guide in navigating this research project already. After challenging me to produce a “history of interpretation” on my passage, Anthony encouraged me to do an inductive study of Romans and write a paper articulating how my passage fits and functions in Romans. I’m in the middle of this project now and it has been an extremely helpful exercise. Even if the entirety of the final product does not end up in my thesis it has been crucial to solidify my own thoughts.

My second reader, who just recently agreed, is Dr. Mark Reasoner. I do not know Dr. Reasoner personally, and had only passing familiarity with his work until he agreed to participate in this project. Dr. Reasoner wrote his dissertation The Strong and the Weak on Rom 14.1-15.13 under H. D. Betz at University of Chicago and it was published in the prestigious Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series through Cambridge. His most recent book, Romans in Full Circle provides a history of interpretation on some major texts in Romans. I am excited for our first face-to-face meeting in October.

I am beyond grateful to have these two fine scholars interested in my project. I only pray that my collected work, offered for their critique would be acceptable. Perhaps by God’s will we might be refreshed together in Paul’s master epistle and God’s grace.

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