Chapter 2 submitted again…

Last week I finally finished revising chapter 2 of the thesis and resubmitted.  It took me about a month!  This was mainly because I had to do pulpit supply for three weeks in a row, so sermon prep took away some thesis time.  I still managed to do chapter 3 research over the last couple of weeks: detailed studies of Jeremiah 33 and 34.

9 weeks left before I have to submit chapter 3 of the thesis.  Although I’ve been doing piles of research, I haven’t done much writing.  Right now I have a chapter 3 document that has about 5 pages.  Most of it is in outline form, and I’ve got two good paragraphs at the beginning that I’m happy with.  50-60 pages seems a long way away.  Part of me fears I won’t have enough to say, while another part of me thinks I’ll have too much to say and need to prioritize and trim back.  We’ll see how it works out as I go.

This week:

  • Detailed look at Jeremiah 35.  Hopefully this week will seem a little easier, since I have already done a fair bit of work on this chapter for an assignment in my Critical Methodologies class.  I have access to more commentaries now, but some I’ve already gleaned info from.



Commentaries on Jeremiah (Thesis update: 4 Oct 2017)

Last week featured a detailed study of Jeremiah 32.  I started by reading Jer 32 in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, then doing my own detailed plot and style analysis.

I then did what I called a ‘Commentary blitz’.  I now have access to at least a dozen commentaries on Jeremiah.  I compiled a “hit list” of commentaries to visit and went through them one at a time, seeing what they had to say on Jeremiah 32.

Stage 1 (the commentaries I find the most useful for my research):

NICOT (Thompson), WBC (Keown), Anchor (by Lundbom), Smyth & Helwys (by Fretheim), and OTL (by Allen)

Stage 2 (commentaries that are okay, and still worth looking at, but are not as helpful as the first stage):

Harrison’s Tyndale Commentary, Marten’s BCBC, Clement’s Interpretation, Dearman’s NIV Application Commentary, Longman’s New International Biblical Commentary, and Wright’s The Bible Speaks Today commentary.

After going through those 11 commentaries, I find there’s little left to say.  I am aware of other commentaries which I’ve already gone through from the school library: Holladay, Brueggmann, Stulman, McKane, Bright, Carroll.  If I hadn’t already gone through them, I’d put Holladay and Brueggmann in the 1st stage, and Stulman in the second stage. McKane, Bright and Carroll I don’t really recommend.  They are part of the history of Jeremiah scholarship, but they are preoccupied with source criticism and spend their time hacking up the book.  So after familiarizing myself with them, they are safe to set aside.

In my mind there’s a stage 3, since I have other commentaries on my eSword program, but I haven’t had time to go there in a week.  Perhaps I’ll have to have a “eSword research day” sometime after I’m done the detailed looks.  Just to see if there’s anything I missed.

Goals for this week:

  • Detailed look at Jer 33 (including reading ancient languages, plot and style analysis and commentary blitz)
  • Continue revising thesis chapter 2- rhetorical situation

Thesis update: 25 Sep 17

12 weeks left to submit chapter 3

Last week I received feedback on chapter 2.  My reader made some excellent observations.  Other than several minor things, there’s two sections that need reworking- where I talk about genre, and where I talk about the rhetorical situation.

I also took time last week to do basic character analysis, setting analysis and event analysis of Jeremiah 32-38.  One of my initial observations is that the key to characterization in this section seems to be whether or not the person obeys/listens to the Word of the Lord.  I feel like I was just scratching the surface last week, though.  I compiled lots of data, but didn’t have time to ask questions about rhetorical effect: based on such-and-such observation, what is the expected reader response?

My wife and I were also talking and doing some calculating about how much time I would need to pull off chapter 3 of the thesis.  We concluded that the current arrangements won’t be enough for the fall (I wrote chapters 1 and 2 by working an hour or less early in the morning before breakfast- and plenty of the work had already been done in other seminary assignments!)  So the new plan is to also give me a couple of hours in the evenings (Monday-Friday), an extra afternoon a week, and a couple of week-long retreats as needed (beginning and end of November).  I’m hopeful that this should be enough time, but feel kind of guilty, since this represents a sacrifice for my family.

I also have to ask myself hard questions about what I’m willing to let go of for this season, since the thesis is a priority.  Last week I didn’t get any concordance work done, and didn’t get around to reading through Jeremiah 51 in the ancient languages.  I’m afraid some of my 2017 reading goals will have to be set aside- but I suspected at the beginning of the year that I might not make it during the year of the thesis.  I’m still reading hundreds of pages of research, just not complete books.  Perhaps I’ll have time for more recreational reading around Christmas.

Goals for this week:

  • Revise thesis chapter 2:
    • Section on genre
    • section on rhetorical situation
    • minor editing
  • Detailed study of Jeremiah Chapter 32
    • Plot analysis
    • style analysis
    • rhetorical effect
    • Read Jer 32 in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic
    • Study Jer 32 in commentaries


Thesis update: 17 Sep 2017

Chapter 2 submitted!  Hooray!

Chapter 3 is where the bulk of the thesis work will take place.  My chairman suggested 15 December as a due date for initial submission, and that I should aim for about 50-60 pages for this chapter.  That gives me 13 weeks to prove that:

Jeremiah chapters 32-38 (as laid out in the Masoretic Text) comprise a continuous, non-chronological narrative sequence, with the rhetorical purpose of aiding the exilic reader to interpret the fall of Jerusalem in chapters 39-40

I spent some time last week thinking in greater detail about how I’m going to use the next 13 weeks to make this happen.  The strategy I came up with is to start with some big picture narrative criticism this week of chapters 32-38 (character analysis, setting analysis, event/plot analysis), and then take a detailed look at one chapter at a time for several weeks (goal: 7 chapters in 7 weeks), analyzing plot and style, and then put it all back together again as I iron out a draft.  If all goes according to plan, then I’ll have a couple weeks left for revisions and editing before I have to submit.

I’ll also have to remember that Grad Applications are due in mid November, so I’ll have to take a moment around then to make sure that I’m submitting the necessary paperwork so I can graduate in spring!  There’s also a graduation portfolio and exit interview to worry about, but they aren’t due until the end of March, while the thesis is due at the beginning of March.  I figure I can spend March dealing with the portfolio.  The only other loose end is that my degree includes a comprehensive exam.  I’ll eventually have to figure out from my program coordinator when a good time for that will be.  My degree is a MABLE: Master of Arts in Biblical Languages and Exegesis.  Part of the comprehensive exam will include sight translation of both Hebrew and Greek.  This is one of the reasons I’m reading through Jeremiah in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, so that I keep practicing those languages and don’t get rusty before I get to the exam!

Goals for this week:

The next few weeks are going to be tight, since my church’s elder (pastor) will be on vacation, so I’ll also be preparing sermons for three or four weekends in a row.

  • Read Jeremiah 51 in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic (I had set the goal to do 50 and 51 last week, but I only got through chapter 50).
  • Finish describing the boundaries of 32-38 as a narrative unit
  • Character analysis
  • Setting analysis
  • Event analysis
  • Access another research source


Research woes: Thesis update 11 Sep 2017

Looking back:

Last week I hit all my seminary goals, reading Jeremiah 48 and 49 in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic; finished going through the Wafler dissertation (he was comparing Jer 1 to select chapters from the narrative section I’m working in); finished my revisions; did a line-by-line edit; had a peer edit from my wife; and did some more research.

In the Wafler dissertation I was working through, an article kept being mentioned, which seemed important.  I jotted it down on the sticky note program.  When I had time, I did a search on the library catalogue, and found a digital copy of the article.  I loaded it on my screen, and then imported the bibliographic information into Zotero.  I then switched to the Zotero window and found the article listed twice.  Turns out that not only did I already have the article in my program, but I had already read it and had taken extensive notes on it.  I felt embarrassed, but then realized it was because of a bigger issue:

My research “to do” list was in a couple of different places.

Somewhere along the way I had stopped being consistent.  If there was one thing our professor told us, it was to be consistent.  You waste too much time if you keep changing systems.  At first I had a separate sub-folder in Zotero for research “to-do”.  Then (perhaps while reading a dissertation, or getting an email from my chair), I had pasted a few quick things to look for on a sticky-note program on my desktop.  As I kept researching, I tended to keep putting new sources that came up on the sticky notes, until I had forgotten I had another list on Zotero.  I had started working off of the sticky notes and not off the Zotero list.  So when I wrote last week that I had 13 sources left to check, I meant there where 13 sources on the sticky note list. There were another 20ish in Zotero.

I spent some time trying to integrate the two lists.  The trouble is that I don’t have ready access to all the sources on my list.  Not everything is online, even with my school’s library subscriptions.  I figured since I was trying to get better organized, I may as well make more sub-folders for things I had easy access to, and things I haven’t been able to locate.  While I was organizing my subfolders, removing books from some folders and adding them to others, I somehow managed to hit “delete” on the entire “Jeremiah” folder instead of a book in the folder.

One wrong button and everything was gone.

The feeling of panic welling up was not pleasant.

After staring and blinking at the screen for a moment, I opened up a web browser and typed something like “Help!  Deleted folder on Zotero” into a search engine.  Happily, I got into the Zotero forums and found I wasn’t the first one.  There were step by step instructions on how to restore from the auto backup file (the important advice is to NOT close the program if you end up making this sort of mistake!)  The backup file I managed to restore basically reset to the last time I had used the program before the mess up, so I lost all the sorting I had done that morning, but everything else was back, unscathed.

By the way, apparently Zotero recommends doing a back-up of that backup file, since it overwrites every time you exit the program.  Syncing to the Zotero server won’t help in this instance, since the server recorded the folder deletion and did the same thing on the server version.

Whew!  Anyway, crisis averted.

Looking ahead:

Chapter 2 of the thesis is due on Friday, September 15th.  Here’s the goals:

  • Finish revising based on wife’s comments (I’ve addressed most of them already, there’s just one more place to tweak)
    • Submit Chapter 2 to chairman by Friday!
  • Read Jeremiah 50 and 51 in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic
  • Carefully organize my Zotero research to-do folders
    • Do more research if I have time.



The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

These habits are basic; they are primary.  They represent the internalization of correct principles upon which enduring happiness and success are based.

During the summer, I’ve been reading a chapter a week from Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change.  I read the 2004 edition which I had picked up at a library book sale some time ago.  (There are newer versions out).


The book is laid out in 4 parts:

Part 1 deals with introductory and background concepts, such as exploring definitions of “Habit” and “Effectiveness.”

A Habit is defined as the intersection of 3 things: Knowledge (what/why), Skills (how), and Desire (want to).   Effectiveness is defined as the balance between Production and Production Capability. (P/PC)

As well, he describes mental paradigms and the difference between operating on a personality ethic or a character ethic.

Part 2 is about Private Victory, and covers the first 3 habits.  These are paradigms for effective independence.

Habit 1: Be proactive

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind (long range planning)

Habit 3: Put First things first (short range action)

Part 3 is on Public victory, and covers habits 4-6.  These are paradigms for effective interdependence.

Habit 4: Think win/win

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand… Then to be understood

Habit 6: Synergize

Part 4  was on renewal, which is Habit 7.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw.  This covers taking care of yourself (physically, emotionally/socially, spiritually, mentally), and taking time to reflect on your life and your other habits.

Image result for 7 habits

All the habits were shown to be interconnected with each other, and the author described how mastering (or at least having a good handle on, since we never really master any of them) Private Victory helps us to get to Public Victory.

Overall Impressions

I think this book had some good insights.  The author is right, he didn’t come up with it, he observed principles that were at work in life, readily apparent to everyone.

Each Habit was explored in detail and included stories and examples of the habits in action.  In the 2004 edition, some of the stories included outdated technology, such as tapes or film cameras.  I imagine newer editions may have different stories.

He seemed to be writing from a Christian perspective, mentioning God and church a number of times.  My discerning wife read only a few pages, and sensed something seemed “off” about his spiritual comments.  In the afterword at the end of the book, he mentioned teaching at Brigham Young University as part of his background.  He must be a Mormon!  This doesn’t change the leadership principles he describes, however.

Overall, it is a worthwhile read.  I’ve read many leadership books, and they often refer to The 7 Habits as assumed background knowledge.  It deals with foundational concepts that are important for any leader to understand.


I’m claiming this as a book on Leadership for my 2017 reading goals.



Thesis Journal: 4 Sep 2017

I think it has been a couple of weeks since I last blogged my short term thesis goals.

Looking Back:

In the week of August 20-26, I:

  • Read Jeremiah 31 in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic
  • Completed a rough draft on chapter 2 of the thesis
  • Finished going through Kit Ho’s doctoral thesis: Narrating Jeremiah: Rhetorical skill and presentation strategy in Jeremiah 26-45.

In the week of August 27-Sep 2, I:

  • Decided not to delve into Jeremiah 32 just yet, in favor of actually finishing chapter 2 of the thesis.  I don’t need a detailed look at Jeremiah 32 until chapter 3 of the thesis.  Instead I jumped to the Oracles Against the Nations and worked through Jeremiah 46 and 47 in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.
  • Since I now had a draft, I went into revision mode.  I read through the chapter, looking for places where what I was saying didn’t make sense, or needed clarification, etc.  I identified several places to “beef up”, and then spent the rest of the week fixing those areas.
  • I started going through another research source.  A second doctoral thesis (there are three of them on my research to-do list).  Out of 3 chapters, I got through 2 of them.

Looking Ahead:

Chapter 2 of the thesis is due on September 15th, which is in just under two weeks.

To do:

  • I read through the revised version this morning, and saw one place with an abrupt transition that I want to rework.  Once that is done, a detailed line-by-line edit for format, etc.  Then I’ll get it peer-read by my wife.
  • Read Jeremiah 48 and 49 in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic
  • Finish going through the doctoral thesis by Wafler
  • Acquaint myself with another research source.

I counted the other day, and I think there’s about 15 weeks before chapter 3 of the thesis is due.  There’s also about 13 sources on my research to-do list.  This encourages me to keep researching at a minimum of one source a week if possible.  I’d like to do more, but time becomes an issue!