Additional Endorsements for Prepare, Succeed, Advance (Treier, Still, and Dodson)

While my book Prepare, Succeed, Advance does have a few very generous and much-appreciated endorsements by Mike Gorman, Chris Tilling, Mike Bird, and Dan Gurtner (thank you so much!), I reached out to other leaders and figureheads in the academic community for their support of this book. Here are a few more words:

“This guidebook is a great idea—I wish I had such a resource all those years ago when I was first exploring life in the academic world! Many aspects of that world seem like common sense to insiders but are foreign to newcomers, who need a trustworthy guide for navigating those inner workings. Dr. Gupta provides practical help that students can use as they discern whether to pursue a vocation in biblical and theological studies, and as they start walking down that path.” — Daniel Treier, Associate Professor of Theology, Wheaton College

“I consider assisting (Truett Seminary) students to discern the next educational step to or not to take to be a profound privilege and a sacred trust. The prospects of pursuing a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies can be and typically are daunting! Nijay Gupta’s guidebook Prepare, Succeed, Advance will go some way not only to demystify the idea, but also to assist those who apply to be accepted, to aid those who gain admission to gain traction, and to help those who graduate to find their way in the bewildering, yet wonderful, world of the academy. I intend to keep a supply of Nijay’s book to hand and to give it to students who are thinking about the ins and outs of a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies.” — Todd D. Still, Professor of Christian Scriptures, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University

“I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger,” and had Gupta’sPrepare, Succeed, Advance been written way back then—as regards to the pursuit for a PhD and a tenured track post—I would have. Frankly, Nijay’s insights give an unfair advantage to future PhD’s over those of us who have already ran that gauntlet and wish we could do it again. Nevertheless, having read this book, it would now be unjust to fail to recommend it to all PhD bound students. Therefore, I will reluctantly urge these students, even though they will undoubtedly be our future competition for jobs and publications, to read this book. And so should you. It’s the Christian thing to do.” — Joseph R. Dodson, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, Ouchita Baptist University


What did it mean to be a “fellow-prisoner” with Paul?

A few times, for example in Romans, Colossians, and Philemon, Paul mentions certain individuals as sharers in his imprisonment. I always assumed this to be rather benign, as in they were regional companions, visiting Paul (daily?) to offer company, provisions, and to learn from him. Another possible view, which I have tended to reject, is that some were actually in prison at the same time as Paul and in his vicinity. Actually, this seems more true of Andronicus and Junia (Rom 16:7).

What about Epaphras and Aristarchus? I just came across the proposal (and some contextual evidence) that these men may have voluntarily entered into Paul’s prison chamber to keep him company. This is apparently the view that James Dunn takes (Colossians, NIGTC, 275-6) and the potential is confirmed by Brian Rapske (see Lucian, Peregr. 12). Richard Bauckham writes this:

The suggestion I endorse is not that Epaphras and Aristarchus were condemned prisoners, but that they voluntarily spent time with Paul in his prison cell.” (Gospel Women, 171)

Wow! Talk about sharing in the sufferings of others! This suggestion appeals to me on a number of levels, but what kind of confidence can we have? What do you think? How can we know what Paul was intending to say?

What will I be doing at San Francisco SBL?

1. Socializing

2. Soaking in sun (remember, I live in Seattle)

3. Vacationing-ish (my family is coming too!)

4. Browsing books I cannot afford to buy!

As far as papers are concerned, I will be “giving” two presentations.

I was invited by my friend Craig Keener to be a respondent in an Institute for Biblical Research session on “Global Readings of Scripture.” I will respond to a paper given by another friend David deSilva on Sri Lankan readings of Galatians. That should be fun!

Secondly, I was invited to give a paper in the section “Ethics, Love, and the Other in Early Christianity” where I will be a reviewer in a session focusing on the book: Among the Gentiles by Luke Timothy Johnson. I am VERY excited to meet Prof. Johnson – I am a huge fan.

What sessions will you find me at? I don’t tend to “frequent” the sessions. I prefer scheduling some personal conversations with folks who have similar research interests. However, these sessions caught my eye:


Exile (Forced Migrations) in Biblical Literature
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Room TBD – Hotel TBD

Theme: Canonical Consciousness: Israel’s Witness in the New Testament

John Ahn, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Presiding
Lee McDonald, Acadia Divinity College
Debating Canon Formation: Why and Where Scholars Disagree (25 min)
Gregory Sterling, University of Notre Dame
Creating a “Canon within the Canon”: Genesis in the Biblical Commentaries of Philo (25 min)
Helmut Koester, Harvard University
Early Christianity is Israel (25 min)
Urban C. von Wahlde, Loyola University of Chicago
Some Reflections on the Use of the Jewish Scriptures In the Gospel of John (25 min)
N. T. Wright, University of St. Andrews
Israel’s Scriptures in Pauline Theology (25 min)
Adela Yarbro Collins, Yale University
Rewritten Prophets: The Use of Older Scripture in Revelation (25 min)



Theological Hermeneutics of Christian Scripture
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Room TBD – Hotel TBD

Theme: Theological Interpretation and Jesus-Studies
This session will explore the significance of two recent attempts at identifying Jesus: Beverly Roberts Gaventa and Richard B. Hays, eds., Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage (Eerdmans, 2008); and Darrell L. Bock and Robert L. Webb, eds., Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence (Eerdmans, 2010).

Michael Gorman, Saint Mary’s Seminary and University, Presiding (5 min)
Michael Bird, Crossway College, Panelist (15 min)
Amy Plantinga Pauw, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Panelist (15 min)
Murray Rae, University of Otago, Panelist (15 min)
Robert Wall, Seattle Pacific University, Panelist (15 min)
Break (5 min)
Beverly Gaventa, Princeton Theological Seminary, Respondent (10 min)
Richard Hays, Duke University, Respondent (10 min)
Darrell Bock, Dallas Theological Seminary, Respondent (10 min)
Robert Webb, McMaster University, Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (40 min)


Second Corinthians: Pauline Theology in the Making
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Room TBD – Hotel TBD

Theme: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 and the Broader Context

Dominika Kurek-Chomycz, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Presiding
Troels Engberg-Pedersen, Copenhagen University
The Unity of 2 Corinthians as Reflected in the Account of Paul’s and Titus’ Travels Between Ephesus, Macedonia and Corinth and the Theology of 2:14-7:4 (30 min)
Reimund Bieringer, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Love as That Which Binds Everything Together? The Unity of 2 Corinthians Revisited (30 min)
Discussion (15 min)
Paul B. Duff, George Washington University
Israel’s Hardened Minds: 2 Cor 3:14a and the Development of a Theological Idea. (30 min)
Scott J Hafemann, University of St. Andrews
The New Creation (2 Cor 5:17) as the Cross-Shaped Life: The Development of a Pauline Theme (30 min)
Discussion (15 min)


Second Corinthians: Pauline Theology in the Making
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Room TBD – Hotel TBD

Theme: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

Thomas Schmeller, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Presiding
Sean F. Winter, Melbourne College of Divinity
Who and What are ‘Ambassadors for Christ’?: The Identity and Role of Paul’s Audience in 2 Corinthians 5.16–21 (30 min)
Matthew Forrest Lowe, McMaster Divinity College
Pleading and Power: The Missional Theopolitics of Paul’s Ambassadorial Soteriology in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (30 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Edith M. Humphrey, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Manifest in the Body— Deeds, Sin, Righteousness and Glory (30 min)
Steven Kraftchick, Emory University
Transformation, Change and Pauline Thought (30 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Business Meeting (10 min)



Theological Hermeneutics of Christian Scripture
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Room TBD – Hotel TBD

Theme: Reading Revelation as Christian Scripture

Richard Cornell, Spring Arbor University, Presiding
Edith M. Humphrey, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Mixing Wine with Water: Enjoyment and Expectation through the Style of the Apocalypse (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Frank D. Macchia, Vanguard University
Worthy Is the Lamb: The Christology of Revelation in the Context of Christian Worship and Dogma (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Break (5 min)
Carl Mosser, Eastern University
The Deification of Humanity in the Revelation of Jesus Christ (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Leslie Baynes, Missouri State University
Reading Symbolism in John’s Apocalypse Now and Then: The Case of the Millennium (25 min)
Discussion (15 min)

What sessions are you excited about?

A “Down and Dirty” Guide to Theology (McKim)

When I saw WJK’s new A “Down and Dirty” Guide to Theology (D.K. McKim) as a new release, I thought this might be the right book for my freshman theology students. Now that I have read it, I admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the great little reference book that it is, but it is more about the discipline of theology, than it is an introduction to Christian theology. I don’t blame McKim for this – I simply misunderstood what the book contained.

In any case, what a delightful book. Essentially, McKim is using his many years of teaching, editing, and writing to help students dip into the disciple of theology. Additionally, he got the great cartoonist Ron Hill (who illustrated the For Armchair Theologians books) to contribute his humorous drawings as well. It does not work as well in this book as it does in the biographies, I think.

So what is in the book? Very briefly (about 160 pages), McKim introduces the definition of theology and its goals, major theologians, the history of the study of theology, the relationship between theology and the church, the relationship between theology and the academy, the methods of theology, and “big questions” of theology. None of this is done in much depth, but McKim stuck to the “down and dirty” simplicity of a very short guide.

I appreciated the “Personal Touch” section of the book which offers inspiring quotes from a number of theologians, some of their memorable “last words,” and finally some cheesy theology jokes and anecdotes.

The book finishes with definitions of some common Latin and German phrases in theology.

I guess this book would be helpful to have more for fun than anything else. I will draw from some of McKim’s definitions and he has a great chart of the flow of the protestant church movement (which apparently he took from Wikipedia!).

I leave you with this joke McKim offers (p. 127-8)

Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann, and Paul Tillich are fishing together on Lake Geneva. They are having a lovely time, smoking their pipes and chatting idly. It’s hot, however, and they are getting thirsty. So Barth gets up, steps out of the boat, walks across the water to the shore, gets some beer, and returns. But on such a hot day the beer doesn’t last long. Barth tells Tillich, “Your turn, Paul.” Tillich gets up, steps out of the boat, walks across the water, and fetches some beer.

It is getting really hot now, and the beer is finished once again. Bultmann is beginning to sweat profusely, so Barth says, “Come on, Rudolf, your turn now.” With a slight tremor in his knees, Bultmann gets up, steps out of the boat and sinks like a stone. Fortunately, he is a good swimmer, and he drags himself back into the boat and sulks at the far end.

Tillich turns to Barth and say, “Do you think we should have told him where the stepping stones are?”

Barth looks at him in astonishment and replies, “What stones?”

Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care

I just received an advertisement drawing attention to the relatively new periodical (since 2008), Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care, sponsored by Biola University/Talbot. The journal seeks out articles that research on “the nature and means of becoming more like Jesus.”

I appreciate journals like these – great for ministry leaders and connects academia to the church in more fruitful ways than traditional journals. They have some free articles that look interesting. I am not a fan of the phrase “soul care,” but I think we need more journals like these in general.

Baker Academic Fall Books in Biblical Studies

As I previously posted on my favorite SBL fall picks for Eerdmans, so I am also doing for Baker Academic. Personally, this year, I think Baker will steal the show (if their Nov releases stay on schedule and make it to the conference!).

Here are some highlights:

(don’t let the logo fool you; Baker does not officially endorse my unofficial endorsements of their books)

A.G. Padgett, As Christ Submits to the Church: A Biblical Understanding of Leadership and Mutual Submission (Aug)

I’ve mentioned this book a couple of times. I think this could be paradigm-shifting in the conversation about headship, although I gather that this book will focus almost exclusively on the church context, not the at-home marriage context.

S. Moyise, Jesus and Scripture (Sept)

I think Moyise’s work is incisive and state-of-the-discipline. He is always a good read.

Jo-Ann Brant, John (PAIDEIA) (Oct)

This PAIDEIA series has been really excellent so far. I am excited to see what Brant does with John.

C. Seitz, The Character of Christian Scripture: The Significance of a Two-Testament Bible (Oct)

A huge issue, but I think if anyone can bring light to this subject, it is Seitz.

J.W. Thompson, Moral Formation According to Paul (Oct)

An important topic and a strong scholar.

Ed. Joel Green et al, Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics (Nov)

I simply cannot wait.

C. Keith and L.W. Hurtado, eds., Jesus among Friends and Enemies (Nov 11)

I have heard bits and pieces about this book, mostly from contributors. Should be good.

J. Todd Billingsly, Union with Christ: Reframing Theology and Ministry for the Church (Nov 11)

One of my “big” a-ha moments in seminary was when I learned about “union with Christ.” I have always hoped that this critical and central topic would one day be accessible to more people. Perhaps this is the book. We will see – I hope it is!