At 1:30pm today, I successfully defended my University of Cambridge PhD dissertation entitled "John's gospel: the Coptic translations of its Greek text." Simon Gathercole was the internal examiner, and Paul Foster (University of Edinburgh) was the external examiner. In the British system, the PhD defense is referred to as the Viva Voce ("with a living voice") or, simply, as the Viva!
I am grateful to have found two examiners who were interested in both Coptic and New Testament textual criticism. Both asked a number of lively questions which showed their own engagement with the dissertation. The entire event took about an hour and fifteen minutes. The examiners challenged me to explain the contribution of my research to academia and to respond to some overarching criticism concerning the use of the versions in textual criticism.
My dissertation explored the use of the Coptic versions in the reconstruction of the Greek text of John's gospel, considering where the Coptic may be cited with the most confidence. Different chapters evaluated the approaches to translations used, the issues implicit in the source language (Greek) and the translation language (Coptic), the evolution of the Coptic texts over time, and the interrelationships of the Coptic texts themselves. Additionally, I identified two previously unpublished Coptic texts of John's gospel in Middle Egyptian and Fayumic.
My examiners have my gratitude for their time and helpful comments. I am additionally indebted to Peter Williams, my supervisor (with me in the photo, above), from whom the original concept of the dissertation came, and who promptly and carefully proofed so many drafts, supplying an endless amount of excellent, constructive criticism. In the final stretch, Gerd Mink transcended the bounds of kindness, reflecting the spirit of cooperation so prevalent in Münster, and commented extensively on the penultimate draft. The highest praise goes to my wife and three kids who endured the ordeal and who have brought me so much happiness along the way.
ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϩⲙ ⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ!