I’m pleased to report that I have officially advanced to the rank of Ph.D. Candidate. I had my oral defense yesterday (following a nightmare of a week with four prelims in five days last week) and was a bit surprised afterwards to have been awarded “Honors” for my preliminary exams. My exams were as follows:
Primary language prelim: Greek (selected texts from the New Testament and Apostolic Fathers w/no dictionary or other tools available)
Outside Minor: Graeco-Roman Religions and Cultures (focusing on Imperial Platonism and Ancient Rhetoric; my exam questions asked about the problem of evil in Imperial Platonism and rhetorical stasis-theory)
Inside Minor: Early Judaism (focusing on Jewish Sectarianism; the questions I chose to answer dealt with the “Essene Hypothesis” for Qumran and whether there were more than three major Jewish sects in the late Second Temple period)
Major Exam: Early Christianity (focusing on Paul: Life and Letters; The questions dealt with Pauline chronology, the last 50 years of scholarship on Gnosticism, and the debates surrounding the quest for the “center” of Paul’s gospel.)
Dissertation Exam: Jewish-Christian Relations in Antiquity (The questions dealt with retrospective vs. prospective thinking about Judaism in Paul, the so-called “parting of the ways,” and analyzing three early Christian sources of Judaism of my choice.)
This wraps up a remarkably busy and productive four months in which I got married, had my review/article on Inception published in the Journal of Religion and Film, taught an intermediate-level course on the Historical Jesus at UNC, presented at SBL in Atlanta, and took (and passed!) all my preliminary exams. (My wife is also graduating this semester with her degree in biology.) Wow. I’m definitely ready for some time off, though I’m admittedly chomping at the bit to finish a few articles and get my dissertation prospectus completed.