It’s been a long time coming, but last month I earned my PhD (Theology/History of Early Christianity) from Radboud University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. It was a surreal experience to defend my research in front of such an erudite group of men and women who had come from all over the world to participate in this event and then be handed my diploma marking the end of a journey that has been at least four years, if not more, in the making. Special thanks are due, of course, to my supervisor, Prof. Dr. Jan van der Watt, and my co-supervisor, Prof. Dr. Chris de Wet. Nijmegen, it turns out, is an incredibly beautiful city filled with friendly folk who love to bike and eat delicious Dutch pancakes — my wife and I heartily recommend it to anyone visiting the Netherlands in the near future and are looking for a less-touristy alternative to Amsterdam. Still, the highlight of this program for me was not visiting Nijmegen nor the finished research product itself but rather the opportunity to interact with and learn from these two men who exhibit the highest virtues not only as scholars but as individuals.
So, what now? Vocationally, I will continue my work as a secondary history teacher at my present school, and starting this fall will also be taking on the responsibility of chairing the history department. Though teaching at the university level has a lot of attractive things to commend it, the stability of my present job, the opportunities it affords for building meaningful relationships with students, and the wonderful relationships I have with my colleagues all point to this being the right fit for me during this season of life.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that I won’t still try and keep one foot in the door of academia. Most importantly, I am working on revising my dissertation for publication (stay tuned for more updates on this); “The Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit” will, I hope, be available for eager researchers soon. Beyond this, I have some unfinished business with Cyprian, Origen, and perhaps even Clement of Alexandria, and also hope to embark on a project that ties together my professional and academic life—namely, an approach to U.S. history that integrates biblical theology and church history in order to foster deep conversation about competing visions of the good life. More on this, too, soon. For now, thanks again to all of you that have meant so much to me over the course of this journey!
PS: a recording of my defense can be found here: https://youtu.be/NDcPuwG1F44