For Those Curious About My PhD Topic (Which I Assume is the Entire Internet)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

This fall I begin my Ph.D. in Old Testament at the University of Manchester. The application process was nothing short of intimidating. In order to be accepted, I had to choose my research topic and give rationale for 1) Why it is important academically; 2) Why it contributes to a void in current research; 3) Why my idea is even feasible in the first place.

It felt a lot like writing about something you don't know anything about yet.

I'm a little amazed that I somehow managed to fool them into thinking that I actually know things. But I've heard that this pretty much sums up the Ph.D. process.

For those who are interested, here's what I'll be researching for my dissertation:

The idea began back when I was in college and took a class on the 8th Century prophets. When we studied the book of Hosea, I could not get this particular passage out of my head:

Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites,
because the Lord has a charge to bring
against you who live in the land:
“There is no faithfulness, no love,
no acknowledgment of God in the land.
There is only cursing, lying and murder,
stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Because of this the land dries up,
and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
and the fish in the sea are swept away.

(Hosea 4:1-3)

The very idea that human sin could indirectly affect the well-being of the earth and its creatures fascinated me. When I harm my neighbor, I expect my relationship with him to be broken; I do not, however, expect my relationship with creation to be broken as a result.

All of creation is interrelated. God is a highly relational God, and he created a world that is also highly relational.

The ecology of sin is not a new idea, but it is increasingly becoming a more well known idea. I'm interested in pursuing its eschatological implications. I'm proposing that the 8th Century prophets (Amos, Hosea, First Isaiah) envision a time in the future when God will intervene to reconcile these relationships. God will not abandon his created world, but will continue his creative activity, thus bringing all of creation to his intended purposes.

Thus, my working thesis statement (subject to change, of course) is the following:
This study examines the prophets' view of the interrelatedness of human sin with creation (with particular attention to Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah), in order to understand the cosmic implications of prophetic eschatology (God's judgment and redemption).
What have I gotten myself into?!? I'm not entirely sure yet, but here we gooooo!

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