Thursday, February 7, 2019

Scholars & Research

In this quiet period of Lunar New Year (yea, the shops are open today) I have had plenty time at home watching several vlogs over Youtube. This morning I came across Dr Simon Clark, a young scientist who shared about his PhD journey. He came from a State school, entered Oxford University for his undergraduate and Masters degree and recently obtained a PhD in Atmospheric Physics at University of Exeter. Although Dr Clark's thesis is in Physics which is the opposite end of my own thesis, the processes and experience of studying for a PhD are very similar. After watching his vlogs on PhD study, I will return to the chapter of my book on my own journey in gaining a PhD and perhaps add a couple more pages in the hope that my fellow Asians especially Malaysians will consider PhD study in the Bible. As for me, studying the book of Revelation for 3 years full time was an amazing experience of end-time prophecy, deciphering symbols, and living with the Apocalypse of John for 3 years is almost a divine heavenly experience.
In fact, in my first year Masters (Post-graduate diploma at Otago University) I had written a research essay on the 7 angels of the 7 churches and then a minor dissertation on the identity of the two witnesses which was expanded into a full doctoral dissertation on the three middle chapters of Revelation. So in total it was close to 4 years of study but getting it completed within the 3-year PhD scholarship award period was simply an amazing journey by the grace of God. I was awarded a full PhD scholarship with tuition fees paid and yearly stipend or allowances for 3 years. Research in humanities within which theology falls consists of incredible amount of time in reading papers, books, journals and commentaries. As the Bible is written in two original languages of Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT), I have to gain proficiency in these two languages. I did that primarily in my undergraduate study at Auckland University having done level 3 Hebrew and then level 3 Greek in my first year of Masters at Otago University. I remember for the first 6 months of my doctoral research, I photocopied all the original texts I could lay my hands on - large portions of Daniel and Zechariah in Hebrew and Greek LXX and Theodotion for Daniel as well. The Greek text of Revelation was heavily marked but I did a full analysis of all the major manuscripts on Revelation especially for those 3 chapters plus. Aune's 3-volume on Revelation published in 1997-1998 were particularly helpful alongside Gregory Beale's commentary that came out about the same time. For my doctoral topic and proposal I actually flew to Melbourne for a few days and did all my research there at the United Faculty of Theology library, one of the premier libraries in Australasia for theology. That's also partly why I am in Singapore now as I need to do some research into my paper for an European Conference this summer. Whether I will go to Europe or not, at least my scholarly endeavours will not go to waste as I will get it published one way or another and present it in some Conference in the future.

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