Monday, March 21, 2011

Successful PhD defense!

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 Additionally, I identified two previously unpublished Coptic texts of John's gospel in Middle Egyptian and Fayumic.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!
Christian

30 comments:

  1. Congratulations and well done old boy. I think an hour and fifteen means you got off fairly softly for the viva!

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  2. Congratulations Christian! Now you are finally there.

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  3. Congratulations Christian! I am next :)

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  4. Congratulations, Christian!

    Now you'll have time to finish that Old Nubian font.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

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  5. Congratulations to you, Christian! I am excited for you.

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  6. Christian,
    I am rejoicing. Now you can watch startling movies again.
    To God be the glory. Wow.
    Shalom as ever,
    Kristian

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  7. Christian, that's WONDERFUL news brother! Mega congratulations. I'm so stoked for you.

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  8. Congratulations. Well done!

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  9. Well done! Congrats Christian.

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  10. Congratulations, brother! Should we be expecting to read your research from CUP or Brill?

    Edgar Ebojo

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  11. Congratulations! Well done!

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  12. Congratulations Christian,
    Erwin O.

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  13. Thanks, everyone, for sharing in my joy!! I have no firm news yet on publication, sorry.

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  14. Congrats Christian,
    We had cakes at coffee this AM at Tyndale House - as is customary for such celebrations.

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  15. Congratulations from the Rook family in KL. It's all Coptic to me. Does that mean you can get a job now!

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  16. מזל טוב christian! take this moment to relax and celebrate.

    ok that's enough. now publish ;-)

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  17. John's Gospel, Coptic translation, textual criticism. Has either examiner done any primary research in any of these fields? Is this normal in Cambridge?

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  18. Congratulations! It sounds like an interesting read!

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  19. Anon,

    normally in the UK one has an examiner from within the institution and one from outside. Both examiners were chosen because they know Coptic and deal with manuscripts. Gathercole has just completed a major technical monograph on the Coptic of the Gospel of Thomas and Paul Foster's own work can be seen here:
    http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/divinity/staff-profiles/foster

    However, in the UK one would typically be looking for two examiners whose combined skills enable them to assess the work.

    Probably the most significant aspect of UK exams is that they are independent of the supervisor. One is thus free to write a thesis entirely against one's own supervisor and he or she can do nothing to stop that. The supervisor has no say whatsoever in whether it passes and no institution can award a PhD without 50% of the committee being from outside the institution.

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  20. Christian, it must feel great! Good job!

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  21. A Coptic Staurogram of good wishes, Christian!

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