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Prepare, Succeed, Advance: A Guidebook for Getting a PhD in Biblical Studies and Beyond Paperback – June 10, 2011
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"Getting a PhD in biblical studies ain't a walk in the park, it's more like running for your life through the African Serengeti at meal time! Lucky for would be PhD students is that Dr. Nijay Gupta can be your tour guide as you start this journey. Nijay himself has been tried by the ordeal of a British doctorate, he's a successful graduate who landed a job, and an accomplished author to follow up. If you want to know about the A-Z of doing and finishing a PhD in biblical studies, this book will show you the way and save you much pain and frustration too. Anyone serious about doctoral studies in the field of Bible or Theology should consult this volume first."
Lecturer in Theology at the Bible
College of Queensland
"This volume is full of wisdom and advice from Gupta's own experience and countless hours of conversation about the topic. Nijay Gupta is a reliable guide for PhD studies-dispelling the myths and misunderstandings of academia. Gupta's Guidebook is essential reading for every stage of the journey."
--Daniel M. Gurtner
Associate Professor of New Testament
"It is hard to imagine a more insightful or practical guide to obtaining a PhD in biblical studies and beginning one's career in the field. Many budding scholars and their mentors will be ecstatic that Nijay Gupta has put his experience and wise counsel into print. I wish I had had such a book when I was starting out."
--Michael J. Gorman
The Ecumenical Institute of Theology
St. Mary's Seminary & University
"There is quite literally a wealth of wisdom in these pages so quite a few will no doubt echo me in lamenting, 'If only this was published when I was writing my PhD!' Thankfully, this wonderfully helpful guide to the rigmaroles of PhD research also offers advice for those of us taking the first steps in teaching, publishing, conference paper presentation, and job hunting. This compact and lucid book will not only inform, inspire, and encourage at all kinds of levels, it could save many from the veritable smorgasbord of potential mistakes and traps that can beleaguer those with even the best of intentions. Read this book! You will only be doing yourself a favor."
New Testament Tutor
St Mellitus College & St Paul's Theological Centre
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 --Wipf and Stock Publishers
About the Author
Nijay K. Gupta teaches Biblical Studies at Seattle Pacific University. He is the author of the book Worship That Makes Sense to Paul (2010), and over a dozen academic articles in journals such as The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Currents in Biblical Research, Horizons in Biblical Theology, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Neotestamentica, Perspectives in Religious Studies, and Restoration Quarterly. He is also assistant editor for Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters.
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The book is divided into three major sections: Prepare, Succeed, and Advance. In the first section, Prepare, Gupta provides important factors that prospectives students should take into account when deciding on a university and what is expected for an application to a doctoral program. His division of doctoral programs according to first-tier schools, second-tier schools, and seminaries is most helpful for those who are unsure about which schools match their needs and interests. Gupta recommends several books for language preparation and biblical backgrounds to enable a Masters student to craft their graduate work for the eventual attainment of a Ph.D.
The second section, Succeed, provides insight into progressing through a Ph.D. program and focuses on the research, writing, and defense of the dissertation. Since most Ph.D. students only write one dissertation, the shape and style of a dissertation may be confusing for some. Gupta offers the helpful suggestion to keep in mind several readers for the dissertation including a "like-minded" scholar and a skeptic to produce a solid dissertation. He also gives tips for research methods some Ph.D. students may not consider such as checking the library catalogs of other universities. Lastly, he gives practical advice on the defense and tells readers, "there is no use in obsessing over the upcoming experience." This quote and other parts of the book offer encouragement to those who may feel timid about the pressures to become an expert.
Gupta describes what is often expected beyond the requirements to obtain a Ph.D. in the third section entitled Advance. He explains the importance of presenting at conferences and publishing journal articles during one's time as a Ph.D. student in order to attract employers. One way to begin publishing and developing critical thinking skills is to write books reviews for a journal. From this small step a Ph.D. student can be more confident and skilled in writing an article for a journal to publish. This section ends with a chapter on teaching strategies, how to find employment, and publishing the dissertation.
Gupta's book is a terrific guide bringing clarity and support for anyone interested in doctoral work in theology/religious studies. He maps out important factors and aspects of a doctoral program though each university will undoubtedly have some differences. There are two areas that can receive some improvement in a future edition. The first area to be improved is his chapter on teaching. Gupta provides some general guidance such as gaining teaching experience, syllabus construction, and some teaching resources. However, it would be helpful to discuss teaching objectives, assessments, and classroom engagement with more pedagogical methods than he provides. It is true that teaching has the general goal of increasing knowledge but this increase needs the direction of objectives to be able to be evaluated. Examples on how to construct objectives would greatly assist new professors. A second area that can be modified is his discussion on the various types of universities. He discusses confessional institutions from an evangelical perspective and the differences between British and American schools. There is a lack of information on Catholic ecclesiastical universities such as the Biblicum where one can receive a doctorate in Sacred Scripture (S.S.D.). There are also other pontifical universities like the Angelicum where one can obtain a licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L) or doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) with a focus on biblical studies.
In the end, this book is a helpful guide to navigate the Ph.D. journey. Students who read this book will have the advantage of not feeling as though they are completely in the dark about what is expected or how to perform at the doctoral level. I highly recommend Gupta's advice and thank him for collating the many facets of doctoral studies.