Here is a quick note to update everyone on the completion of my PhD degree at Cambridge. Though I finished the formality of the PhD last year, I decided to delay the conferment of my degree until my family and I were able to fly back to England for a graduation ceremony. The fact that no one in Australia was going to call me Dr Wisley anyway made the delay not that big of a deal.
I’m glad that I waited and was able to go through the ceremony. It was great to be back at my college Hughes Hall and to see and celebrate with many friends, especially my Doktormutter, Katharine Dell. We also had an opportunity to go up to Edinburgh for a few days which was also great.
I’m happy to say that my good friend Luke Stamps will be joining the blogging efforts here. Luke holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and wrote a dissertation on dyothelitism under Dr. Stephen Wellum. Luke also teaches Christian Studies with me in OPS at Cal Baptist, is an avid Auburn fan, and is from Alabama…so basically completely awesome like someone else who writes for this blog. Unfortunately I’m outnumbered by Luke’s now, even more so since that’s also my brother’s name. Oh well. We’ve updated the tagline slightly to account for Luke joining us – instead of “biblical theology according to the Scriptures,” it’s now “biblical and systematic theology according to the Scriptures.” Happy blogging, Luke, and we’re glad you’re joining us.
Michael Law has posted three helpful applications for becoming a better writer on his blog www.timothymichaellaw.com. His three applications are: read, write, and edit. These applications are not a how-to for writing better, rather they are the practice of becoming a better writer. Some advice given to academics he writes,
“If you’re an academic read at least one piece every day that is not academic. If you imbibe only the fruit of the academic vine you shouldn’t expect to improve. “Academese” is one style of writing that champions proving, arguing, demonstrating, but it does not prize writing.”
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?
Bruce Ashford, Provost of Southeastern Seminary, has a nice post on the benefits of long walks and deep thinking. Living in Scotland means you walk everywhere. I for one can testify to the connection between these activities. Here is Bruce’s concluding paragraph:
I’ll limit myself to one concluding reflection. Our 21st century urban context pushes us to live lives that are dizzyingly busy, crammed full of many things and devoid of time to contemplate. Perhaps the best thing we can do is set aside some time to be “unbusy,” so that can partake in such a deeply humane activity as walking and thinking. As Eugene Peterson points out, our busy-ness sometimes stems from arrogance—we are busy because we are building our own kingdoms. Other times, it stems from laziness—we let society write our agenda rather than writing our own. Either way, we rob ourselves of the time needed to immerse ourselves in deep thought about. Healthy spiritual and intellectual formation requires a certain amount of unhurried leisure, the sort that is often provided by a long stroll.
Greetings from Edinburgh. I landed on Tuesday after around 18 hours of travel. It was a bit shocking to finally arrive but I am excited to be here. Within a few short days, I can see why so many Edinburgh alums were sad when their programs ended and had to leave. It is such a lovely city. Each day I am shocked by the treasures I discover.
The first few days in Edinburgh were busy. Busy, busy. I spent the majority of my time trying to find a flat before Aubree arrives. After a couple of frustrating days of emailing, calling, and viewing around the city I found a nice flat that Aubree and I can call home. It is located just outside of New Town and is around a 20 min. walk to New College. After securing our flat I then opened up a bank account which was quick because I had all the right documents. The last couple of days I have been enjoying the city and exploring what she offers.
I plan on my next post will be about the visa application process for an American coming to the UK. I have reflected on this process for a bit and thought it my be helpful for others considering making the move. All the best to you who read this blog.
To begin, I am very excited to be blogging with my friend Matt. Matt had the unfortunate opportunity of meeting me while we were both students at Southeastern Seminary. So, I am honored (and a bit perplexed) that he would want to have his name associated with mine.
I will spend my first post telling you about myself personally and what some of my goals are with Secundum Scripturas. First, I married my lovely wife Aubree in 2006 and have called Raleigh, North Carolina home since that time. In August, Aubree and I journey to the Old World to study for an MTh (Scot speak for Masters in Theology) in Biblical Studies at New College, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Prior to coming to North Carolina I lived in a parallel universe known as Branson, Missouri (Country Music Shows, Hillbilly Comedy) where I completed a B.S. in Physical Education in 2006. After my time in Branson, Aubree and I then moved to Wake Forest, North Carolina where I completed a Masters of Arts in Christian Theology in 2011. In August, we set sail (actually flying) for Edinburgh to join the long line of tradition at New College.
What I hope to bring to Secundum Scripturas is a mirror to what Matt has already started. My main interest is interpreting the Old Testament theologically. I try and do this from a number of perspectives: detailed Biblical Studies research, Hebrew Discourse Analysis, Hermeneutics, Reception History, Philosophy, and Christian Theology. I have an interest in each of these areas and more but I’ll stop here. I am interested in how these fields intersect and hope that my posts will reflect this.
Along with posting on my research interests I will also devote some writing to moving, living, and studying in the UK. I have benefitted from a couple of blogs as my wife and I begin the process to our move to Edinburgh. I hope that this blog can contribute and build on these other blogs and serve to give its readers a bit of insight into the process of making the move, living, and studying in the UK. Having been accepted to New College, these posts will be from a particularly Scottish perpective. I also hope this blog provides opportunity to meet new people, stay connected, and interact with my many friends and acquaintances that I have been blessed with these last few years from the Wake Forest area and abroad.