Dissertation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

I spent about two hours Saturday looking at the dissertations at Bob Jones University’s J. S. Mack Library. From 1947 to 2007—there were quite a number.

My overwhelming feeling was that my own dissertation should not aim at significance! More than likely, it’s going to end up on a dusty shelf in the back, read only by small rodents—furtively, late at night.

I now agree even more with my favorite Greek teacher, Randy Leedy, and with my dean, Steve Hankins, who have warned Ph.D. students not to consider their dissertation their magnum opus.

The dissertations that seemed to get checked out the most were those by BJU faculty. Perhaps students over the years have taken a look at their teachers’ work out of curiosity. That’s not to say that those dissertations lacked quality; they were good dissertations. But I’m sure my dear pastor would agree that it’s otherwise hard to explain why his work on the Matthean Genealogy would have been checked out so many times! =) It doesn’t have a very catchy title!

One of those faculty dissertations, typed out in Courier in the early days of desktop publishing, may provide a jumping-off point for my own. I’m eager to see where the Lord will lead me. He so clearly guided me in removing one potential topic from my consideration—even though I’d spent five years planning on it! I’m sure He will lead me rightly. He always has.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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