I recently met with my Old Testament professor Dr. Roger Nam. Over the faculty retreat, he and Dr. Paul Anderson had talked about my future in academics (yes, George Fox has professors who care like that). Of course, when an OT scholar and an NT scholar get together and make a decision, one cannot question that.

One possibility that Dr. Roger Nam recommended is a PhD in history, particularly Christian origins. According to UCLA’s department of history website,

A History degree is probably the most flexible and far-ranging. It is excellent preparation for a wide variety of fields — law, teaching, business, public service, journalism, and even medicine. Increasingly, the professions and professional schools are looking for applicants who have broad interests and backgrounds, and analytical and verbal skills rather than narrow field specialization.

Therefore, history in particular, with its breadth of outlook and coverage, its stress on learning how to read critically and write effectively, will stand you in good stead regardless of what you do.

I can see the value in a history degree. For one, it would certainly help to balance my biblical studies weight that I have accumulated at seminary. Another thing is that in taking two semesters of church history at the MA level, I see the need for understanding the church that has gone before us—if not for standing in solidarity with it, then simply appreciating it and recognizing the work of the Holy Spirit in the world through the church regardless of the good or the bad. My own work on my thesis, although heavily in the realm of biblical studies, has made me realize that I need to understand the milieu of Jesus days—before, during, and after.

I understand that my own view of the benefits of a history degree is limited. I am wondering what other insights you might be able to give me regarding this field. How would having a PhD in history benefit academia? How would it benefit the church?  Are there any cons? Are there any other considerations—both positive and negative—that I might have missed? (Other than, of course, a history degree helping me become the next N.T. Wright! :-))