Planning and Preparing

My father used to say that God laughs at our plans. He was probably right. But, the reality is, you still have to do it. Now that I’ve read from several blogs and the book mentioned in my previous post about what is essential for preparing for PhD work, it is time to start planning. There seems to be a consensus that it is very important to (1) be very familiar with primary texts like the Greek NT, Apocrypha, DSS, Pseudepigrapha, etc. (2) be well-read in your area of interest, and even other areas outside of your interest, and (3) be competent in the biblical languages and modern research languages. In light of this, I am attempting to make for myself a daily schedule that will allow me to make significant progress in these areas before starting a PhD program. First, I made a list of all the things I would like to do daily, and tried to think of creative ways to fit those things into my day.

Every day I would like to do the following:

  1. Spend some time in the Greek NT just reading.
  2. Read through the OT and Apocrypha in English
  3. Work on German and Latin language study
  4. Read Chemnitz’ Examination of the Council of Trent, Gerhard’s Loci, and some Luther to keep me grounded in the confessional Lutheran doctrine.
  5. Read 2-3 hours/day in the area of New Testament Studies

The way I have arranged for this to happen throughout my day:

Before breakfast/kids waking up:

  • Read from my Greek NT for about 1/2 hr. to :45 min.
  • Study languages

After Morning Prayer, in my study:

  • Personal reading, Chemnitz, Gerhard, Luther, etc. for 1 hr.

At Lunch

  • OT and Apocrypha (DSS once finished with Apocrypha, following the plan that I found on Ben Blackwell’s blog.
  • Review vocab from languages, if there is time.

After kids go to bed

  • Read for a couple of hours in my field of interest. (Several books have been suggested by Nijay Gupta in his book on preparing for PhD that are meant to increase one’s knowledge base in the area of biblical studies.)

Once a week, maybe Saturday mornings, instead of the normal routine, pick up a journal or two and read some recent articles or book reviews.

Of course, I realize that it will not always work out this way. One has to be flexible. But it is a plan. And, when you have a full time calling as a pastor, husband, and father, you have to be creative in organizing your day. You also have to be disciplined. My tendency over the years has been to get started on something, but not follow through. My goal is to be consistent, and to keep my eyes looking ahead.

Perhaps someone else might find such a schedule useful. It works for me, but it may or may not work for someone else. I prefer to do the language study and reading of the Greek in the morning, when my mind is fresh. And, I prefer to have a set time, not during my normal work hours, to do the additional reading for academic purposes. It is always quiet in the house in the evening once kids are asleep, and no distractions generally speaking.

I am very appreciate of those who have provided tips and ideas on what one should do to prepare for a biblical studies degree. As my father used to say to his students, “Onward and upward!”

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About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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