Two weeks ago I wrote that I “am scheduled to defend my dissertation on July 2, 2010 before D. A. Carson (my mentor), Bob Yarbrough (second reader), and Willem VanGemeren (program director).”
After I submitted my dissertation draft to the Academic Doctoral Office last week about a month and a half early, Willem VanGemeren asked me if I’d like to defend it sooner, and my committee moved the date to May 13, 2010 (this morning).
The committee’s verdict: clear pass.
And I’m grateful to God!
The dissertation’s title is “Paul’s Use of Isaiah 40:13 and Job 41:3a (Eng. 41:11a) in Romans 11:34–35.” (I’ll share the abstract in a forthcoming post.)
Here’s what I wrote in the “Acknowledgments”:
This dissertation began as a paper prepared for D. A. Carson’s PhD seminar “The Old Testament in the New” in fall 2006. Carson required each student to write a paper on the use of the OT in a specific NT passage, and I chose Rom 11:34–35 primarily because it is attached to my favorite verse in the Bible: Rom 11:36. I slightly revised the paper and presented it at the national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society on November 19, 2008. The study was so rewarding that I expanded it into this dissertation.
I am grateful for Carson’s wise guidance along the way. It’s hard to imagine a better mentor for a doctoral program. He routinely assured me that a PhD program that doesn’t make you sweat and feel like a twit at times isn’t worth the expense. By this measure I got far more than I paid for. And serving as his research assistant for the past four years has been worth more than the PhD. His gifts and productivity are astonishing, and it’s been an honor to leverage his work a bit by helping with copyediting and other projects. One of the first large projects he gave me was to proof Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (ed. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), and that introduced me in a fairly comprehensive way to the complex and variegated ways the NT uses the OT.
Bob Yarbrough is also a model NT scholar and churchman. God has gifted this lumberjack with sharp wit, analytical skills, and theological acumen. It was a privilege to serve as his teaching assistant for two years and then for a couple more as one of his editorial board members for Trinity Journal. I’m grateful he agreed to serve as this dissertation’s second reader even while he was transitioning to Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis. He is leaving a huge hole at TEDS.
Willem VanGemeren has been the grandfather-figure of our PhD community. His warm, sympathetic, thoughtful, encouraging demeanor made the program more bearable. He has rightly pinpointed me as a left-brain guy, so he has at least alerted me that the right brain exists and that this has a bearing on my theological method. I should offer a disclaimer that anything I say about Isaiah (or the whole OT for that matter) is not his fault. He’s a Jedi Master when it comes to reading the Hebrew OT, and he makes linguistic, literary, and theological connections with nuance far beyond my ability. I’m grateful that he served as a reader for this dissertation at the very end of his tenure as the PhD program director.
My other mentor while in this program has been my pastor, Mike Bullmore. Although he knows academics well (he taught homiletics at TEDS for fifteen years), he has mentored me in the context of CrossWay Community Church by heralding and modeling the gospel. He has shown me what gospel-centered ministry looks like, and that life-changing experience has been priceless.
I’m grateful to family and friends who supported me in many ways over the last four years, but one deserves special thanks with reference to this dissertation: my Dad, Charles Naselli. He proofs almost everything I write for publication, and he eagerly and skillfully provided valuable feedback at every stage of this project.
I look forward to telling little Kara Marie that Daddy is “all donnnnne” with his PhD, and she will no doubt teasingly reply, “No, all dommmmme!” And that’s about how I feel after this program.
My godly wife, Jenni, has now endured two PhDs in our first seven years together (one year of dating and engagement followed by six years of marriage). That’s two rounds of coursework, two rounds of comprehensive exams, and two dissertations. She should get a degree for that. Now regarding this dissertation’s dedication [i.e., “To Jenni, who fulfills me”], I should qualify (since that’s what PhDs are supposed to do to everything) that referring to Jenni as the one “who fulfills me” is not an allusion to πληρόω as if the hermeneutical warrant for this dissertation is Jenni’s typological connection to me. Nor does it mean merely that she satisfies me. It means that she makes me complete by supplying what is lacking. And there’s a lot lacking. She unselfishly and patiently encourages, supports, and loves me. She is a delight to love and lead, and I could not have made it this far without her.
My view of God has deepened as a result of studying Rom 11:33–36 (see especially chapter eight). God has enlarged my view of how great and glorious he is and how small and unimpressive we are.
“For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Rom 11:36)
Update: See “A False Dilemma,” which highlights a comment someone left for this post: “Unfortunately two Ph.D.s can hardly be said to serve God’s kingdom. Just think of the gospel ministry by-passed because of such esoteric work. I hope you’ll have more opportunity now to minister and evangelize while the night has not come and there’s still time to work for the Lord of the harvest.”