This last weekend I sent my first reader the second draft of the first chapter of my Master of Theology (Th.M.) thesis. I thought it may be useful to openly journal through the process for anyone who comes along later down the road seeking to work on a similar project. I don’t have much advice yet, but maybe if I say a little bit about each step it will result in a something helpful.
The aforementioned reader is James DeYoung, the Professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Western Seminary. One of his great scholarly strengths is exegesis and especially that of the Pauline corpus. It is good to have a reader who is familiar with the area of study you hope to engage.
Jim has a reputation for being a stickler about grammar, punctuation, et al. I made sure to ask him to ignore those mistakes before he examined my first draft. What I needed was another set of eyes reading over the first chapter to see if it made sense. A good introduction is more important than I think many realize.
When I received his corrections back they were very helpful. There were several important questions written in red ink in the margins. I imbedded some answers in the body, some in footnotes, and chose (wisely or unwisely) to not respond to a couple because I intend to do so in subsequent chapters.
Now that he has the second draft he can mark, mark, mark away on the finer details. I hope word-processor technology served me well.
Honestly, I am not sure how the second reader’s role works just yet. I don’t know if he has to read chapter-by-chapter like my first reader or just the whole thing at the end before my oral defense. I need to ask my advisor.
If you haven’t had a chance to hear about the subject of my thesis let me tell you about it. It focuses on the eschatologically loaded passage of Rom. 8.1-25. In this passage it appears to me that that there are several faint echos from the Book of Genesis. After reading some commentary on this chapter in articles and books it seemed to me that if the exegete doesn’t recognize these echos then the message loses some important nuance.
Yet no where in 8.1-25 does Paul explicitly quote the Book of Genesis (most recognize he refers to it in vv. 18-23). And this is how many of his references to Genesis work in this epistle. Unlike his use of Isaiah or Psalms he is not very blunt. Two brief examples would be 1.18-25 and 16.20. These are very much “he who has an ear to hear, let him hear” type echos.
So part of my project is to show that plausibility that Genesis-motifs are present from the beginning to the end of the epistle. Even chapters like 3-4, 6-7 and 12-16 don’t make as much sense without hearing the important Genesis echos in 1, 4-5, and 8.
Of course, this demands that one spend at least a little bit of time thinking about Pauline hermeneutics and his use of Scripture. I will be following Richard Hays and others who have talked a little bit about metalepsis seeking to show how Paul’s use of Genesis is more apparent when we pay attention to this insight into literature.
This is all I have to say on the matter for now. In the meantime I hope to take advantage of the bibliography that the “Paul and Scripture seminar” of SBL compiled to assist me as I work on chapter two (find the bibliography here)! The goal is to make this next chapter smooth and simple. Smooth enough that it sets the stage for the rest of the thesis; simple enough that the reader doesn’t get distracted by its claims to the demise of the main point of the thesis.