I am through with my coursework for the Th.D. (Doctor of Theology) program (except for two papers I need to finish--hopefully in May). Then I need to complete my German and Spanish language exams--hopefully in June and July respectively. Then I take preliminary exams hopefully in November 2009. I take 3 exams: one in my primary concentration (The Practice of Leading Christian Communities and Institutions), one in my secondary concentration (New Testament), and one in my dissertation area. In the spring of 2010, I try to get my dissertation proposal approved. Then I hope to finish the dissertation by spring 2011 and could if I am amazingly fast--at this point, why not be optimistic? That would be finishing everything in 4 years--the length of the funding for the Th.D.. (The Ph.D. Graduate Program in Religion average is 5.8 years but they get 5 years of funding).
Here is today's draft of what my "project is about"--what my dissertation proposal might look like a year from now--though it will likely be revised and narrowed (or gutted) in the next six months. But it gives you a basic idea of what I am interested in.
Focal Research Interest: I have been exploring four New Testament church practices in the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and John Howard Yoder: (1) listening to the apostle's teaching, (2) participating in the Lord's Supper and baptism, (3) following Jesus Christ, and (4) proclaiming the gospel. Both Bonhoeffer and Yoder explore ethics, emphasize insights from the New Testament, and were significantly influenced by their time with Karl Barth. I argue that church leadership rightly understood will predominantly focus on attempting to participate with the Holy Spirit in facilitating these four practices as a sign, foretaste, and instrument of God's reign.
My preliminary examination committee of 3-5 people is still evolving. There is a wealth of riches at Duke Divinity School whom I have dialogued with at one level or another about mission, New Testament, church, Yoder, Bonhoeffer and Barth including: Richard Hays, Laceye Warner, Stanley Hauerwas, Greg Jones, Sam Wells, Curtis Freeman, Geoffrey Wainwright, Douglas Campbell, Kavin Rowe, Susan Eastman, Allen Verhey, J. Kameron Carter, Willie Jennings, Stephen Gunter, Mark Chaves, Ken Carder, and Richard Lischer.
I have written extensively about the Th.D. program, the application process, language exams, job prospects, the Ph.D. program, etc. at:
Advice about Duke Th.D. and Ph.D programs in theology