Ph.D. Program General Description

 In support of its programs, the department regularly offers two series of seminars, one series in Old Testament and one series in New Testament, designed to provide coverage of essential fields over the course of two academic years.

 
The Course of Study for Old Testament Candidates

 
The program of study in Old Testament features four broad areas of core competency: biblical theology, Old Testament exegesis, methods, and Hebrew and related Semitic languages. While every student must achieve a basic level of competence in each of these areas, the program also allows for substantial flexibility for students to shape their courses of study according to personal interests and to pursue interdisciplinary work should that be desirable. A student’s program will ordinarily consist of at least eight seminars, five of which must be in Old Testament (distributed as stipulated below), as well as language study. In addition to doctoral seminars offered by the departmental faculty, doctoral offerings by other Seminary and Princeton University faculty, as well as selected advanced Master of Divinity courses, may be incorporated into a student’s program.

 
Seminars and Languages

 
Theology—Every student is required to complete a two-semester sequence of seminars in biblical theology: Biblical Theology I: Issues in Old Testament Theology, and Biblical Theology II: Issues in New Testament Theology.

 
Exegesis—Each student is expected to gain proficiency in exegesis commensurate with doctoral-level work. The successful completion of a designated advanced exegesis course or book-based doctoral seminar will satisfy the department’s basic exegetical competency requirement.

 
Methods—The department offers various opportunities to investigate a broad range of methodological approaches to Old Testament study. Ordinarily, a student will take at least three of the following seminars:

 
• Near Eastern Backgrounds to Israelite Religion
• Literary Approaches to Old Testament Interpretation
• Biblical History in its Ancient Near Eastern Context
• History of Biblical Interpretation

Hebrew, Other Semitic Languages, and Greek—To strengthen proficiency in Hebrew, a series of reading courses in both prose and poetry and a Hebraica seminar focusing on historical grammar and text criticism are regularly offered. Courses in other Semitic languages are offered with a special emphasis in West Semitic (e.g. Aramaic, Ugaritic, Phoenician, and the like.) These latter course offerings are designed to deepen and enrich students’ linguistic understanding of Hebrew and to enable students to access the rich array of textual materials from the wider ancient Near East for comparative purposes. The department requires a basic level of competency in Hebrew, Greek, and Northwest Semitic. These requirements are to be met as follows:

 
Hebrew—Passing a competency examination at any point during the first two years of the program. Normally this examination is given twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring.
Greek—Either by passing a competency examination or by completing a course (Old Testament or New Testament) that includes a substantial Greek component.
Northwest Semitic—Successful completion of two courses, one from each of the following areas:
Northwest Semitic Epigraphy or Ugaritic
Aramaic I (Syriac grammar) or Aramaic II (survey of selected dialects including biblical Aramaic)

Goals and Pedagogy

 
Examinations

 
1. Old Testament Critical Issues and New Testament Critical Issues (two separate examinations) will each be offered once during the academic year. These are to be taken before the end of the second year. A bibliography of classic works is sent to all new Ph.D. candidates upon acceptance of admission with the suggestion that the summer before entering be used (if possible) to begin to read from the bibliography. Students are strongly encouraged to meet together for discussion as part of their preparation for these examinations.

 
2. Comprehensive Examinations. In consultation with faculty advisers, each student will choose three areas of examination from the following list:

 
• Biblical Theology (with a concentration in Old Testament theology)
• Old Testament History
• Ancient Near Eastern Literature
• Literary Approaches
• Hermeneutics
• History of Israelite Religion
• Northwest Semitic Inscriptions (including Ugaritic)
• New Testament Studies
• History of Interpretation

 
The Course of Study for New Testament Candidates

 
The program of study in New Testament seeks to equip students to pursue original academic research by fostering a broad competency in biblical theology, New Testament exegesis, and the political, social, and religious worlds of Early Judaism and Earliest Christianity. Within this larger framework, the program allows for substantial flexibility for students to shape their courses of study according to personal interests and to pursue cross-disciplinary work. A student’s program will normally consist of eight seminars or courses (distributed as stipulated below) spread over two academic years. Advanced Greek and other language courses do not count toward the fulfillment of this requirement.

 
In addition to doctoral seminars offered by the departmental faculty, doctoral offerings by other Seminary and Princeton University faculty, as well as selected advanced Master of Divinity courses, may be incorporated into a student’s program.

 
Seminars and Languages
Biblical Theology—Every student is required to complete a two-semester sequence of seminars in biblical theology: Biblical Theology I: Issues in Old Testament Theology, and Biblical Theology II: Issues in New Testament Theology.

 
New Testament Exegesis—Each student is expected to gain proficiency in exegesis commensurate with doctoral-level work. A minimum of two exegetical seminars or courses is required, covering texts from at least two of the following corpora: Synoptic Gospels, Johannine Literature, Letters of Paul, Catholic Epistles, and Revelation.

 
The Contexts of Early Judaism and Earliest Christianity—Students are required to take two seminars or courses exploring some aspect of the larger social, cultural, religious, and political contexts of Christian origins.

 
Additional Seminars—The remaining two seminars or courses may be taken in an area outside New Testament studies (e.g., Old Testament, cultural studies, patristics, literary theory, theology, classics, etc.).

 
Language Proficiency—The department requires a basic level of competency in Greek, Hebrew, and at least one other ancient language. These requirements are to be met as follows:

 
1. New Testament Greek: Passing a competency examination at any point during the two years of residency, but before comprehensive exams are taken. Normally this examination is given twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. A course in Rapid Reading of the Greek New Testament will regularly be offered to help students who are not yet able to pass the exam; however, this course will not count toward program requirements.

 
2. Advanced Hellenistic Greek: Successful completion of the Advanced Greek seminar (offered every two years) or an equivalent course in non-New Testament Greek.

 
3. Hebrew: Competency in Hebrew may be satisfied either by completing a course that includes a substantial Hebrew component or by passing an examination offered by the Old Testament faculty. Normally this examination is given twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring.

 
4. Students will demonstrate proficiency in at least one of the following languages by taking a course or passing an examination administered by the department: Aramaic, Coptic, Latin, or Syriac.
Examinations
1. Old Testament Critical Issues and New Testament Critical Issues (two separate examinations) will each be offered once during the academic year. These are to be taken before the end of the second year. A bibliography of classic works is sent to all new Ph.D. candidates upon acceptance of admission with the suggestion that the summer before entering be used (if possible) to begin to read from the bibliography. Students are strongly encouraged to meet together for discussion as part of their preparation for these examinations.

 
2. Comprehensive Examinations. Students will be examined in the following areas:
• New Testament Theology and Exegesis
• The Environment of Earliest Christianity
• One elective from among the following:

     The Old Testament in the New Dead Sea Scrolls and Pseudepigrapha
     The Historical Jesus
     The Gospels
     Luke–Acts    
     Paul and the Pauline Tradition
     The Catholic Epistles and Revelation
     Literary Approaches to the New Testament Interpretation
     Sociological Approaches to the New Testament Interpretation
     Cultural Hermeneutics
     History of Biblical Interpretation
     Biblical Theology, History of Doctrine, and Systematic Theology

 
For the comprehensive examinations in New Testament Theology and the Environment of Earliest Christianity, the student will be provided with a bibliography of selected primary and secondary sources as well as a list of important topics or issues on which to focus attention. The bibliographies will be shaped in part by the student’s own interests and goals. Although many graduate seminars offered each year overlap with one or more of the indicated elective areas, the student may not assume that seminars will always be available in all areas. The initiative of designing a bibliography for examination in any of these elective areas rests with the student, in consultation with the faculty. Approval of electives and special areas resides in the department.