It has been too long since I’ve written here. I have been really busy, but I wanted to provide some updates which will hopefully rekindle my blogging.

The most immediate update is that yesterday morning I passed my field exams for my Masters. I had not been so physically nervous about something in years. The way our exams work is that we choose three topics or texts with three professors, build a bibliography, and then have an oral exam. My three topics were Chrysostom’s homilies on Lazarus with Dr. Blake Leyerle, Origen’s Exegesis of Song of Songs with Dr. John Cavadini, and Augustine and Cassiodorus’ interpretations of the Psalms (particularly Ps. 62) with Dr. Hildegund Müller. Once the exam started, I felt at ease. I walked out of the room and after a very brief deliberation on the part of my committee, I was told I had passed. 

It’s a good thing I passed because I have also been accepted into the Ph.D program here at Notre Dame and it would be pretty awkward to have the offer rescinded because I couldn’t finish my MA. I’ll be in the Theology department in the “History of Christianity” subfield. I don’t think it has totally sunk in yet, but I feel really blessed to have the opportunity to stay here and continue to learn. 

I also recently gave my first paper at a conference in March. It was the Pappas Patristic Institute‘s annual graduate student conference held at Holy Cross in Brookline, MA. The experience was amazing. First, going to Greek Orthodox vespers was out of this world. The beauty of it all was inspiring. The conference itself was also very enjoyable. There were so many good papers and it was nice to meet with peers at other institutions. I gave a paper on St. Ephrem’s Hymns Against Julian, comparing them with Gregory Nazianzus’ two orations against Julian. I thought it was well-received and it was nice to get to use some of my very minimal Syriac ability. I told my Syriac professor that I was asked if I’m a Maronite Catholic (because I pronounce Syriac the way Maronites do), he said, “They thought you were a Maronite?” He says he was surprised because of how white I am, not because of my poor Syriac ability. Likely story. 

So that is a bit of the news in my life. I have some things that I hope to blog about soon, particularly now that I have my exams out of the way. 


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2 responses to “Updates

  1. Congratulations on all your accomplishments, especially the acceptance into Notre Dame’s highly regarded Ph.D. program.

    • Joshua McManaway

      Congratulations to you as well for your recent successful dissertation defense, Dr. Carlson! I think I’ll need to ask your advice on how to finish a dissertation so quickly when the time comes.

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