Seminary/Thesis update: 12 Nov 2017

Last week:

  • I submitted my graduation application.  I received confirmation that they have it, and my name has been added to the grad list, subject to faculty approval in March 2018.
  • Accommodations for graduation have been arranged.  My wife had done some searching and found a possibility.  I contacted them, and everything has been arranged.
  • I emailed my program coordinator to ask about the MABLE comprehensive exam, which is one of the hurdles I need to jump before graduation.  She wrote back, saying to plan to do it in March sometime, and sent an example of what the test would look like.  Basically, I’d have a short list of Bible passages.  I need to choose one Old Testament passage and one New Testament passage.  For each, I’d have to translate them from Hebrew or Greek, including parsing all the verbs, and then basically write an introductory commentary on the passage, dealing with things like genre, text criticism, syntax, semantics, exegetical issues, etc.
  • Read Jeremiah 51 in Hebrew
  • Worked on chapter 3 of my thesis, revising all the places I had flagged last week.
  • Received a commentary in the mail from the school library (The New American Commentary on Jeremiah (NAC) by F.B. Huey).

This week:

5 weeks left to submit initial draft of Thesis chapter 3.

I’m also on deck again for pulpit supply next weekend, so sermon prep will be competing for my time this week.

  • Contact various family members about graduation.
  • Work through the relevant parts of Huey’s NAC commentary, see if he has anything to add.
  • Revise section on the sub-plot of Jeremiah 37-38 (didn’t quite finish last week)
  • Write about the metaplot of Jer 32-38
  • Read Jeremiah 51 in Greek and Aramaic
  • Would be nice if I have time: write section on narrative “flavor” of Jer 32-38
  • Would be nice if I have time: write conclusion for chapter 3 of the thesis




Thesis update: 6 November, 2017

So last week was an academic retreat.  I’m pleased with the result.  I accomplished the following:

  • Wrote 46 pages (9881 words) of chapter 3 of my thesis.  (the final goal for this chapter is around 50-60 pages).
  • Completed detailed studies (read in original languages, plot analysis, and commentary blitzes) for both chapters 37 and 38 of Jeremiah.
  • Filled out my program sheet and started making arrangements for graduation this spring

Chapter 3 of the thesis needs to have a first draft submitted in 6 weeks.  Grad application is due next Monday.  Goals for the week:

  • Complete and submit grad application.  Make arrangements for accommodations in spring
  • Original languages: there’s 9 chapters of Jeremiah that I haven’t gone through yet: 39-45, and 51-52.  The fall of Jerusalem (39ff) will be relevant for chapter 4 of the thesis, so I’ll delay on that chapter for now, and this week I’ll make it a goal to go through Jer 51 in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.
  • Thesis: I’ve flagged at least 6 places on my chapter 3 draft that need more work; things like introductory and summary paragraphs, transitions, or just expanding on what I’ve already got.  In addition, there’s 3 other sub-topics that I haven’t started yet.  I’ve written about individual plots for each episode in Jer 32-38, but want to write a section on what I’m calling the “meta-plot”.  After that, some more detailed rhetorical/narrative analysis that make up the “flavor” of the narrative, and then a conclusion to wrap the whole chapter up.  The goal is to get as much of this done as I can.  This may require a bit more research as well.  I feel like this goal is a little vague.  One of the downsides of the academic retreat last week is that I now need to catch up on a bunch of other stuff from other areas of my life, so I’m not sure how much progress I’ll make this week.

Book Review: The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase #1) by Rick Riordan

My name is Magnus Chase. I’m sixteen years old. This is the story of how my life went downhill after I got myself killed.

My wife recently read the Magnus Chase series by Rick Riordan.  She enjoyed them so much, she wanted to read them with me, so this past week we read book 1 out loud together:  Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer

Rick Riordan is the author of the Percy Jackson series.  In the Magnus Chase series, the premise is that Norse mythology is real, and continues into modern times.  This takes place in the same world as Percy Jackson (as if Greek gods and Norse gods co-exist), and the character of Annabeth makes a cross-over appearance (Magnus is Annabeth’s cousin).  I was worried that I might not understand everything, since I’ve only read the first three Percy Jackson books, and none of the Heroes of Olympus series, so I don’t know of all of Annabeth’s adventures, but it ended up being sufficient.  For the brief scenes with Annabeth, it helps if the reader has read at least one Percy Jackson book, but most of the book was about Magnus Chase in the Norse world.


The main character is Magnus Chase- a sixteen year old guy who’s been living on the streets in Boston for two years ever since his mother was mysteriously killed by wolves.  (the story is told in the first person from his perspective.)  One fateful day he encounters his uncle, who convinces him to try to get a viking relic out of the river- an old sword.  A fire giant interrupts the adventure, and kills Magnus by the end of chapter 7 (there’s 72 chapters, but they are short and quick).

Turns out it is just the beginning.  Magnus is scooped up by Samirah, a Valkyrie, and escorted to Valhalla, the realm of the honored dead.  Magnus has no idea what is going on, and the only things he knows about Norse mythology is what he’s seen on Avengers movies.  This is helpful to the reader, as the reader learns at the same time as Magnus.

The old sword is end-of-the-world important.  Magnus escapes Valhalla with his friends: Samirah the Valkyrie, a dwarf named Blitz, and a deaf Elf named Hearthstone, to secure the sword and prevent it from being used to usher in Ragnorak (Viking Armageddon).  Their adventures range all over the nine worlds and encounter various Norse gods and other creatures.

Comments and Impressions

She tightened her grip. “Do you want to fall into the Gap?” I got a feeling she wasn’t talking about the clothing store.

I really enjoy Rick Riordan’s writing.  His sense of humor is great.  There’s jokes all over the book, even in chapter titles.  The adventure is gripping and keeps the reader engaged, turning the pages for more.

This particular book is deeply rooted in 2015.  There’s historical references, allusions to pop culture, music (dwarves playing Taylor Swift songs), slang (“Chillaxin'”- is like chilling, except with battle axes), technology (e.g. Thor refers to a “find my hammer app”), etc. that would make it appeal to a contemporary audience.  A teenager reading the book would probably feel that Magnus was one of them.  Several scenes take place on the streets in Boston, with precise descriptions regarding street names, etc.  While reading these parts, I felt like I wanted to get out a street map of Boston to follow the action better.

Comments from a Christian:

“And it’s the middle of winter. How can it feel sunny and warm?” Hunding shrugged. “I don’t know— magic. But this is your afterlife, boy. You’ve earned some perks, eh?” Had I? I didn’t feel particularly perk-worthy.

When Magnus first arrives in Valhalla, the description of his apartment is one of customized comfort.  This scene made me wonder about heaven, and what a real afterlife would look like.  Jesus said he is preparing a place for us.  What would it be like?

Norse Mythology is messy.  The gods are war-like and not worth emulating or worshiping.  They are powerful and worthy of respect perhaps, but don’t even claim to be good.  The writer’s depictions of the gods are laughable, as if he himself is poking fun at the gods.  Thor farts a lot.  Ran is like a bag-lady.  Odin just got back from motivational speaker training.  Freya can’t resist jewelry.  It is funny when reading it, but I wonder at the writer’s worldview.

The character of Samirah I found troubling.  She is a muslim, but has a secret life as a Valkyrie.  I found the blatant syncretism to be… I don’t know… sad, disturbing, something…

Other Rick Riordan posts:

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

#1. The Lightning Thief

#2. The Sea of Monsters

#3. The Titan’s Curse


Thesis update: 29 Oct 17

7 weeks left to submit the first draft of chapter 3.

Last week I completed my detailed analysis and commentary blitz of Jeremiah 36.

This week ahead is the first week our family is going to attempt to give me an extended academic retreat of sorts.  So for Monday to Friday, the family will leave after breakfast and come back for supper, leaving me free from homeschooling duties, etc. for 8ish hours a day x 5 days.  I’m also going to cash in a week of vacation pay from work.  Whether or not we do it again depends how much work I get done, but we’ve talked about the possibility of doing it again at the end of November as well if needed.


  • Write as much as I can of chapter 3 of my thesis.  Hopefully have an initial draft of everything I want to say regarding Jeremiah 32-36 so far.
  • detailed analysis and commentary blitz of Jeremiah 37 (if I have time- want to spend most time writing)
  • Hopefully I’ll hear back from my second reader regarding chapter 2 of the thesis.  Revise if needed
  • I shouldn’t forget my grad application.  I think it is due November 13th or so.

Thesis update: 23 Oct 17

I’ve received feedback on the revised chapter 2.  There were a few technical issues (a couple punctuation errors, a couple of footnotes’ format etc) to take care of, but my first reader is now happy with it.  He says I can fix the technical issues and then send it directly to the second reader.  Also, last week I went through Jeremiah 35.  I spent some time writing.  Chapter 3 is now sitting at about 7 pages (of a needed 50 or 60)

8 weeks left to submit the first draft of chapter 3 of the thesis.

Goals for this week:

  • Revise chapter 2 and send to my Second Reader
  • Detailed look at Jeremiah 36 (read ancient versions, plot analysis, commentary blitz, etc.) (again, I worked with this chapter in my Critical Methodologies class, so I hope the research will feel quicker)
  • Continue writing.

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