Semester #5 at SBTS

The fall of 2012 was a pause in doctoral studies at Southern Seminary, a break known as an “interrupted status.” But in 2013 things were back in full swing. Here’s the breakdown on Semester #5.

I completed my 4 goals for the Spring 2013:

  1. Take and pass Comprehensive Exams, which consists of 3 major tests administered at a certain time for all doctoral students who are at that stage in their program. Different professors prepare exams relevant to the student’s areas of study. In my case, Dr Plummer gave me a Greek exam, Dr Hamilton gave me an Old Testament theology exam, and Dr Schreiner gave me a New Testament theology exam. I took (and passed!) these exams in March, and I studied for many, many weeks in advance to prepare for them. What a relief to have them behind me now!
  2. Secure my Dissertation Committee. This is a group of 3 people (one of whom is my supervisor) who will read my final dissertation draft. Before my graduation I must defend my dissertation before this committee of faculty members. I am very blessed to have Jim Hamilton, Rob Plummer, and Peter Gentry as the members of this Committee. A team of academic Avengers has assembled!
  3. Write, submit, and receive formal approval for my Prospectus. The Prospectus is the research proposal, an explanation and justification for the dissertation idea one has. Quite a bit of research goes into forming a Prospectus, so the hope is that it will be approved and thus the prior research be vindicated! My dissertation interest centers around Daniel 12:2, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” I aim to show that Daniel’s words of resurrection hope are rooted in prior Old Testament texts and concepts extended as far back as Genesis,  and I want to show how Daniel’s words were influential in shaping the resurrection language of the New Testament authors. The title of the dissertation will be “Resurrection Hope in Daniel 12:2: An Exercise in Biblical Theology.” I turned in my Prospectus just under the wire, and it was accepted!
  4. Take a 4-day seminar called “Teaching Principles and Methods.” In the PhD program there are three mini-seminars required, one on Graduate Research, one on Higher Education, and one on Teaching Principles and Methods. This was my last of the mini seminars. It was enjoyable being back in the classroom again, because I’ve been officially done with semester-long coursework for a year now, but equally delightful is the fact that I’ve now completed every degree requirement except the dissertation. That status is affectionately abbreviated ABD.

With the fifth semester at SBTS now behind me, and with only the dissertation in front of me, I should be writing during every free moment I can get my hands on! In the months ahead, I can’t afford to have extraneous written words unrelated to my topic–which means I need to find a way to fit this blog post into a footnote.

How Many Figures are in Malachi 3:1?

Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.”

In Malachi 3:1 there is dispute among Old Testament scholars as to how many figures are in view.

  1. Is it only one? This would mean the first reference to “my messenger” is the same referent as “the Lord” and “the messenger of the covenant.”
  2. Is it two? The first figure would be “my messenger,” and the second figure would be meant in both phrases “the Lord” and “the messenger of the covenant.”
  3. Is it three? This would mean “my messenger,” “the Lord,” and “the messenger of the covenant” are three different figures.

The weakness with the first view is that “my messenger” is preparing the way for the Lord, so the forerunner is distinct from the one to come. The weakness with the third view is that it doesn’t reckon with the synonymous parallelism present in the verse. Let’s look at the second sentence like this, as two halves:

the Lord                                                     whom you seek                  will…come
the messenger of the covenant       in whom you delight       he is coming

Seen as parallel statements, the second sentence in Malachi 3:1 is referring to a second figure only, not a second and a third. The “messenger of the covenant” refers to “the Lord.” This same figure is sought and delighted in by the people, and he “will come/is coming.”

In summary, the forerunner and the Lord are the two figures prophesied in Malachi 3:1. How did such prophecy come to pass in history? The forerunner was John the Baptist, and the Lord was Jesus the Messiah.