October 18, 2012
Well, my semester has officially started. My goal this first week has been to learn my way around the library, which is a priority if I am going to accomplish any meaningful research. Learning the German University library system is a somewhat daunting task and I have felt daily nostalgia for Southeastern’s wonderful library back home, with which I was quite comfortable. Here one does not just learn a library, but rather librarIES, that is, the specific library of one’s department (in my case theological, philosophical), the main University library, and finally the State library, located right down the street from the school.
Today in the library I decided to hunker down at a table that was located near the New Testament section and that was near a window with a great view. I successfully checked my first books out of the library (N.T. Wright’s Jesus and the victory of God; D. du Toit’s Theos Anthropos; and Bauckham’s book on 2nd Temple Judaism), learned how to do a library loan, found where the journals are located, etc.
When it was time for a study break, I explored the school’s main building. Everything is so old and immaculate here, and very picture worthy. That means that for now I’m not only carrying around my books, but also my camera.
A long hallway inside the university. So picturesque! If one looks out the left here, one sees the mains street and fountains, and to the right of these pillars is the statue pictured above, and then the huge courtyard featured in the movie about the White Rose resistance movement.
And to top it all off, a student was playing the grand piano at the front of the room. Enjoy the video!
February 7, 2012
I don’t think I’ve officially announced on my blog that I have been accepted for doctoral studies at the University of Munich, Germany. A few weeks ago I received an official acceptance letter stating that I should matriculate in March and begin studies in April (their semesters are a little different than here). I quickly responded and said that March was a little too early; thankfully the school was fine bumping back my matriculation date to September. This gives us a little time to sell everything we own, except what we can fit into suitcases, for me to possibly take an intensive summer language course, and for us to get settled overseas. We also are awaiting word from a scholarship-stipendium, which, if not received, will delay our plans by a few months.
With this in mind, I couldn’t help but feel a bit nostalgic as I was watching the Superbowl Sunday night with a bunch of church-friends, munching on food, and cheering for the Giants. I couldn’t help but think, “I really enjoy this every year!” And then I thought, “This’ll be one thing I really miss when I move to Germany.” I’ve been going to Superbowl parties since I was a kid. The first one I can remember was when the ‘Skins won in 1991 — I was 7. To me the games are always memorable, but even more so is the camaraderie of watching a game with friends. I did boycott the Superbowl a couple of years when Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction occurred. They say that the Superbowl will be available next year online, so maybe there will be some Germans interested in finding out what a Superbowl party is like.
Other things I’ll miss when I’m overseas:
- living in driving distance to family.
- my church family at Union View. Sure, we’ll get involved in a church in Munich, but we’ll miss everyone here.
- having a car; we’ll only use public transit in Munich
- mild winters. This week it is 3 degrees Fahrenheit at night and 15 degrees during the day in Munich.
January 4, 2012
In a recent post I described several ways in which I am trying to prepare academically for studies in Germany. Now in this post let me share some ways that I am preparing spiritually.
- I am looking at my time in Germany not only as a 3 year academic stint, but also as a chance to live as a missionary in a foreign country. Sadly, many parts of Europe, including Germany, are very dark when it comes to the gospel. In fact, I read just this past week that nearly a third of Germans are atheists, with the other two-thirds being Catholic and Protestant — but most of these being “religious.” So living in Germany will mean living in a place that desperately needs to hear about Jesus. Sometimes being a missionary means reaching people who live in huts and work on primitive farms; being a missionary in Germany might mean reaching people who drive Mercedes and work as succesful professionals.
- Living as a missionary begins now, not just when I get across the ocean. We are seeking to be involved with our local church in every way possible. We as a family are continuing to pray for our neighbors and to reach out to them and to seek opportunities at our jobs and in our community. If we are not sharing the gospel now, why should we expect it to be any different when we get “over there”?
- As one who will study in a German University, I am bracing myself for several possibilities. Since I will be studying the New Testament with very conservative beliefs, I am expecting to have to defend my positions on these. For example, I expect to be challenged on my belief about the inerrancy of Scripture. Now, I’m not planning on going into the University broadcasting such a stance, but I’m sure it will eventually come up. I doubt that it will be a huge issue, however, if I have developed a reputation as a good student, a hard worker, and a careful reader of the New Testament.
- I intend to make time for spiritual growth while in Germany. It will be easy to get lost in studies and to neglect prayer and devotional reading. Therefore it will be important to get to know some other believers, to be involved in church, and to daily seek the Lord. I am also planning on reading my fair share of C. S. Lewis while studying. That may sound odd, since he was not a NT scholar. I think he models one, however, who was willing to take a bold stand for his faith within the context of a European University, even though it cost him in many ways. Having such an example will help, I think, during the times when I’ll feel challenged or out-of-place.
December 23, 2011
As I’ve mentioned recently, my family is preparing for a move to Germany. As you’ve probably also noticed, I’m pretty excited and will have a lot to say about the process. Let me share with you what I am doing to help prepare myself for the academic studies in Munich:
- Between now and May/June when we hope, Lord willing, to move, I am focusing on honing my language skills. I am trying to read at least 10 verses a day from the Hebrew Old Testament. I refer primarily to Keil and Delitzsch for issues encountered in the Hebrew. I’m also practicing my Latin. Daily reading in the Vulgate is the bare minimum, but I’m also trying to work through a classical grammar.
- My major focus when it comes to language preparation is Greek and German. I’m balancing my time between these since the bulk of my work in Munich will relate to these languages. For Greek I am just about to complete my first reading of the Greek NT. I am also working through a classical grammar that includes translations from English to Greek. When it comes to German, I recently felt that I had hit a wall and was making little progress. Motivation had bottomed out. All of this changed when I was given a few new German magazines and the newest edition of Deutsch Perfekt. I’m finding the Zeitschrift entitled Deutsch Perfekt to be greatly helpful, since it offers contemporary readings on a host of topics and themes, with different levels of difficulty, and with reading helps on hard words. Now I’m finding it hard to put the German down and pick up the Greek.
- There are a couple of things I would like to read between now and Germany. Mostly I would like to read in the area of NT backgrounds: things such as Josephus, Philo, Apostolic Fathers, maybe some Apocrypha, a rhetorical handbook, Homer, and probably Dictionary of NT Background.
- In order to make time for these languages and readings, I am not aiming to try to get much published in the next few months. As of now I am only working on one book review (Letters to the Church: A Survey of Hebrews and the General Epistles by K. Jobes for Criswell Theological Review). I’m also planning on turning down an opportunity to write another article for the Lexham Bible Dictionary since this will take away time from my other pursuits.
In some upcoming posts, I hope to share with you how I’m preparing spiritually for Germany, and also how we as a family are preparing.
December 19, 2011
Well, let me officially say I’m back and ready to blog again. As you may have noticed, I decided earlier this fall to take a break from blogging. Now I’m going to give you an update on what I was working on and accomplished during my blogging sabbatical:
- I finished my th.m. thesis (masters of theology). My thesis, which clocked in at 172 pages, was entitled “Interpreting Microstructures through Discourse Analysis, with Specific Application to the Text of James 5:13-18.” And, with my th.m. thesis completed, I graduated this past Friday and am officially done at SEBTS (which means I have no books checked out from the library, but soon can check out a maximum of 5 with an alumni account). Family was here for the weekend to celebrate.
- I was officially accepted by the faculty of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität-München for doctoral studies. Now I am awaiting the final word from the school’s international office. The application process was quite thorough: I had to get several references, academic transcripts (including elementary and high school), even SAT scores from high school.
- I completed my application to the DAAD, which offers scholarships for students to study in Germany. In order to apply for this, I had to again gather transcripts, references, etc. I also had to take a German proficiency exam, which included speaking, reading, writing, and listening comprehension. On my test I received a 3 out of 5 on each area, meaning I can communicate in German in general topics and in scientific topics of medium difficulty. Before I can begin at Munich I will need to be completely fluent. Needless to say, I have spent and will continue to spend considerable time working on my German.
- Any spare time I had was spent with my wife and daughter, who is now a year old, beginning to talk, and walking up a storm.
So, there you have it. That’s what I’ve been up to. In my next couple of posts I’ll let you know what I plan on doing now. Also, tomorrow evening (Tues) we’ll be having my German conversation partner over for dinner. I’ll be sure to post pictures so you can “meet” her.
May 11, 2011
For those of you interested in studying in Germany, I have found some more funding possibilities. Be sure to check out the Alexander von Humboldt foundation. Benefits include:
-monthly stipend ranging from 2,100-3,650 Euros and lasting for 12 months
-4 month intensive language course for those who do not know German
-2 week study travel tour through Germany
-airplane travel costs to and from Germany are covered
-Family members (spouse and children) are encouraged to come, and extra funding is provided for each additional family member
-deadline for application is October 15
March 28, 2011
“Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary. He told us to be not only ‘as harmless as doves’, but also ‘as wise as serpents’. He wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head. He wants us to be simple, singleminded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim. . . . The proper motto is not ‘Be good, sweet maid and let who can be clever,’ but ‘Be good, sweet maid, and don’t forget that this involves being as clever as you can.’ God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you, you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all. But, fortunately, it works the other way round. Anyone who is honestly trying to become a Christian will soon find his intelligence being sharpened: one of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself. That is why an uneducated believer like Bunyan was able to write a book that has astonished the whole word” (Lewis, Mere Christianity, 78).
March 15, 2011
I have updated my link “Preparing for Studies Abroad”. There you will find information regarding studying overseas (Note: I am finding that I have much less time lately for writing. One of the main reasons is because I am preparing for a trip in April to Germany, and am applying for various scholarships and taking care of details related to overseas study. I still plan to write about biblical/theological topics, but since much of my attention lately is focused overseas, many of my posts will be related to this).
January 27, 2011
A lot of important things are going on for me this semester:
1. I am investigating Universities in Germany and the U.K. to discern where to pursue a doctorate
2. I will be making some trips to visit these schools, and then submitting applications
3. I hope to submit a formal prospectus in order to get approval on the thesis I’m writing
4. I hope to write another chapter of my thesis
5. I’m only taking one class so that I can have some more free time to work on these matters
To be honest, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by this. Just the process of looking at schools is dizzying; your prayers are appreciated. I’m taking great comfort from the words of Proverbs, “The Lord directs your steps.” I praying that he direct my steps through the whole process.
January 18, 2011
This may be old news, but in case you haven’t read the article yet I thought I’d link to it and provide some excerpts. The article is about the limited learning that goes on in colleges and states:
A study of more than 2,300 undergraduates found 45 percent of students show no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years. Not much is asked of students, either. Half did not take a single course requiring 20 pages of writing during their prior semester, and one-third did not take a single course requiring even 40 pages of reading per week. . . . ‘It’s not the case that giving out more credentials is going to make the U.S. more economically competitive,’ Arum said in an interview. ‘It requires academic rigor. . . . You can’t just get it through osmosis at these institutions.’ The findings also will likely spark a debate over what helps and hurts students learn. To sum up, it’s good to lead a monk’s existence: Students who study alone and have heavier reading and writing loads do well.