This past Thursday I submitted my masters dissertation Topicalization and Focalization: The Function of Preverbal Word Order in Amos 3-6. Now that I have officially finished with the masters degree I have been trying to reflect on some of the broader things that I’ll take away from this year of study. The two things that stuck out to me were a desire to be faithful and the benefit I received from community.
I find it true that for most who study the Bible academically, it is easy to become distracted from the purpose of why they wanted to study the Bible in the first place. This is not to say that studying the Bible academically isn’t a worthwhile pursuit, only that academics should be for the benefit of others and too often the work isn’t thought through of how to make the work accessible to others outside the guild. Thankfully, I was able to step back and reorient myself at times this year that was crucial to how to approach the work. The one thing that really stuck with me was the desire to be faithful. I wanted to be as faithful as I could be to Scripture, to my dialogue partners, and to the gifts I have. I was constantly reminded that the work I do is never perfect and never fully finished; I would never fully please or satisfy everyone and there is always more I could have said or said differently. Stepping back and asking, “Was I faithful?” was critical to being content in the work while also knowing it will never be fully finished.
A second area that I reflected on was the benefited I received from community; both academic and ecclesial. Academic community for the most part is fairly easy to come by on a daily basis: shared study areas, lunches, reading groups, seminars. Twice this year many of my Old Testament colleagues and their families met up together at someone’s home for an evening for tea and coffee (and the occasional cupcakes with Ugaritic letters in icing or sugar cookie in the shape of a tablet). It was a great time for our families to meet socially. There is a definite sense of camaraderie when several families who are all going through similar life circumstances get together for an evening.
Perhaps maybe even a greater benefit to me this year was the community from the small group from our church, St. Paul’s and St. George’s. Meeting with others who are concerned with living their lives before God in his kingdom brought a lot of sanity and perspective. It is easy for me to make more out of being accepted by peers than serving and bettering the Church through the research.
It has been a tough but good year here in Edinburgh and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to study here. My program has ended and many others are getting ready to resume again. I wonder what types of reflections others have had when they had a chance to step back from the grind. Anybody have any thoughts?