My Advice to Students — David Rudolph Says, “Consider the Ethical Implications of Your Theology”
Having completed a BTh and MTS at Messiah Biblical Institute; an MA in Old Testament and an MA in Biblical Languages at Gordon-Conwell; and PhD in in New Testament with a specialization in Second Temple Judaism under Dr. Markus Bockmuehl at Cambridge—Rudolph's advice to students carries particular weight.
In the course of his studies he came to realize that one of the areas not focused on in the academy is the importance of ethical decision making, particularly the ethical implications of our theology.
Rudolph shares an apt…
My Advice to Students — What Does Doug Moo Regret? It May Surprise You!
Whether biblical Greek and Hebrew, ancient Latin, or modern German, languages form an important bedrock to your program. What you may not fully realize it, they will continue to play a pivotal role in your on-going professional journey, whether in the academy or the church.
I’m learning that now as a pastor, regretting not taking my study of Greek and Hebrew more seriously as I work through the text for Sunday morning sermons. Surprisingly Doug Moo, author of An Introduction to the New Testament, has similar…
My Advice to Students — Daniel Block Says “When You Wrestle with the Text, Wrestle with the Text.”
In our ongoing video series of advice to students from biblical scholars, Daniel Block, Old Testament professor at Wheaton College and author of Deuteronomy (NIVAC), says the most important lesson he has learned, which he learned back in seminary, is "When you are wrestling with biblical texts, wrestle with the texts."
In other words, wrestle with the Bible first, then commentaries.
Biblical studies isn’t a spectator sport, so don’t let your commentaries do all your wrestling for you. Get in the ring with the text.
I understand well this pull toward merely engaging with people who comment on the text, rather than simply the text itself. I attended seminary around the corner from a bookstore…
My Advice to Students — Gary Burge Says “Master the Languages” and “Interpret with Humility”
At Wheaton College Gary Burge, professor of the New Testament and author of Jesus and the Jewish Festivals, has opportunities to speak with budding theologians and young biblical studies students who go on to graduate and post-graduate school. Whenever he talks with these students his advice tracks along two fronts, which he explains in our video below.
First, he cannot underscore language study enough. The mastery of Greek and Hebrew is essential. Burge says, "Someone has said you really only know a language when you can write it." He explains what this means for you as a graduate student of the Old and New Testaments.
Second, he wishes that he'd been told more…
My Advice to Students — Joel Willitts says “Success Isn’t About the Accomplishment, But the Journey”
Joel Willitts, assistant professor of biblical and theological studies at North Park University, has three things to say to students who are contemplating a career in the academy:
Persevere Get a good dose of realism on the front end Be open to God's surprises along the way
In the video below, Willits (author of Introduction to Messianic Judaism) shares openly about his own personal journey through graduate school and into an academic teaching position. He says by far the biggest piece of advice he has is "If you are interested in the life in the academy, it takes tremendous perseverance and there are significant obstacles."
Willitts shares that he had applied to several PhD programs and…
My Advice to Students — Bill Mounce Says, “Don’t Let Yourself Be Swallowed Up By the Academy”
For those of us who have been to seminary or are in seminary we know the funny pejorative term often given to that higher academic world: semitary, with a "T". As in, when one goes off to the Church's Ivory Tower to pursue graduate work in Bible or theology it's almost as if they crawl into a 6 ft. plot in an over-grown cemetery for 2-3 years, completely divorced from the real world.
There's something about going into this kind of graduate work where the rest of the world gets shoved aside in the middle of our hyper-focus on learning other-worldly Hebrew vocab words, conjugating those pesky Greek verbs, and writing papers on obscure…
My Advice to Students — Andrew Hill Says “Students, Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions!”
One of the highlights of my academic experience at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary was the open and inviting environment they created for their students. I never intended to go to seminary and be a pastor, so when I arrived to my Greek I, Biblical Hermeneutics, and Systematic Theology classes, I had a whole geyser of questions waiting to burst forth. Thankfully because of GRTS's environment, I felt invited to ask them, regardless of how naive or basic they were.
That's the exact kind of environment Old Testament Professor Andrew Hill (author of Survey of the Old Testament) seeks to cultivate for his students at Wheaton College. In our video today, Hill shares some crucial advice for your academic journey, whether you're at the front end or back end of that journey. "I want to encourage this in our students," Hill…
My Advice to Students — Bird Says “No Matter How Much You Love Your Theology, It’ll Never Love Your Back”
We've had a fantastic collection of advice over the past 2 months since we've launched our new series of videos featuring advice from leading biblical scholars to ministry and academic graduate students. (Watch missed episodes: Blomberg, Schreiner, Schnabel, Mohler, Campbell, and Enns) But I have to say, today's video hit me square between the eyes, and I think it will affect you in the same way.
In this authentic video, Michael Bird (author of the new Evangelical Theology) shares his own experience in Bible college, saying he went in a solid, proud, hardcore Reformed guy. He was so hardcore that he hung a sign outside his apartment that read "No Semi-Pelagians Welcomed Here!" When he graduated he was given a gift by the student union, a booklet titled Why I…
My Advice to Students — Peter Enns Says, “Be Flexible About Your Expectations.”
In the middle of my M.Div. program I had contemplated pursuing a doctorate in historical theology upon graduation. My academic mentor, Dr. Michael Wittmer, gave me some invaluable advice that helped me make my decision.
He said that if I could be OK with putting in the time and financial commitment without expecting a teaching position on the other side, then I should go for it; I should pursue such studies for their own sake without the expectation of a job. I opted for a ThM instead, which worked well given my pastoral pursuits. Peter Enns (contributor to the forthcoming book Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy) has similar advice for PhD students in our ongoing video series.
The main piece of advice he would give young graduate students is to be very flexible about your expectations about full-time teaching…
My Advice to Students — Doug Campbell Shares 2 Things to Cure Boredom and Theological Weakness in Students
In our ongoing advice series to students, Doug Campbell (contributor to the book Four Views on the Apostle Paul) shares two bits of insight he wishes he would have received early on in his career.
The first thing he advises is, "You need to feel that you've been called to your subject." You will be fatigued and bored later in life if you're not passionate about the issues in a given subject. So unless you're passionately engaged, steer clear.
The second thing he'd want to say is, "there is a terrible theological weakness in a lot of students today." He says students often think we just need to just read a text and it tells us what it wants to tell us. Such a mindset leads to a "descriptive impericism that can be a little bland." He encourages students…
My Advice to Students — Al Mohler Reminds Us That Theology and Life Are Inseperable
A few short years ago when I was still an M.Div. student I remember a moment in the middle of the adult Sunday school class I was leading when the intersection of theology and life exploded in my face.
We were studying the Fall and an 84-year-old man who witnessed the horrors of WWII while in the Dutch resistance movement could not understand why the Fall could've happened. In fact he was rather angry that God allowed the serpent into the Garden to tempt Eve, angry that He didn't interveen to stop Eve and Adam from eating from the Tree, and dumbfounded that if God knew the Fall was going to happen that He didn't do something about it—resulting in the horrors of his youth.
This 84 year old man had experienced the kind of evil I as a pampered 29-year-old…
My Advice to Students — Which Degree Does Eckhard Schnabel Almost Always Suggest?
When Dr. Eckhard Schnabel advises students who are trying to decide which degree to pursue, he almost always suggests the Master of Divinity degree. As he explains, "it's a general degree that forces students to learn something about everything, because in ministry we never know what will happen and what kind of task we'll be asked to fulfill."
In this video, he explains why he gives such advice: Exegesis is important, because everything boils down to "What does the Bible say?"; learning Church history is not only a duty, but also a necessity in terms of pastoral ministry, because we learn what worked and didn't work; systematic theology teaches us how to have a unified approach to what Christian's believe about certain topics; pastoral ministry classes help apply what we learn to preaching, counseling, mission, and evangelism.
As someone who…