I tried to think of a better title for this post, but I’m drained from Palm Sunday at church and my dissertation defense this morning.
My dissertation passed with some suggested editorial revisions to be made at the discretion of my promoters with no more involvement from examiners. I’m not sure whether the title doctor becomes truly official until after the revisions, but my panel of examiners did call me “Dr. Thompson.” My examiners evaluated me fairly. I am thankful for their comments on the document along with their questions and feedback during the oral defense.
Working full-time and trying to maintain time with my family, I struggled through the last three years to finish this project. At one time in particular, I doubted whether I would finish. Yet I had a lot of support from my family and friends. I had a lot of support from my church parish that has been understanding of me being scatter-brained over the last year or two. And I also appreciate the support of the Biblioblogging community. Having met a number of you in person at SBL meetings, you all encouraged me to press on as well. Thank you everyone who helped me through this process.
I thought it would be fitting to post my acknowledgments here (to my knowledge, this section needs no revision – only it could have been about 10 pages longer), so that those who influenced me the most can have some public recognition:
This study is a blend of interests from both my undergraduate-level study of psychology and graduate-level study of Biblical Hebrew. These ideas developed more fully in an introductory course in Biblical Hebrew at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Though we had a good instructor, a number of my classmates struggled to learn the language. I believed this was the combined result of students not knowing how to go about language learning and a poorly conceived introductory grammar. In light of this experience, I determined to take one small aspect in the language learning process, namely vocabulary learning, and undertake a study that could benefit struggling students like these.
At first, I was unsuccessful in finding a doctoral program where my idea for a dissertation would fit because many institutions were focused primarily on exegesis and theology. By nothing other than divine providence, I came across the program in Biblical Languages at the University of Stellenbosch. I contacted Christo van der Merwe with my idea for a dissertation and received a message back that might have been twice as long as the one I had sent. Through our correspondence, I learned that he had long held an interest in applied linguistics and Biblical Hebrew, though his primary research focus lay elsewhere. He agreed that I had a good idea for a dissertation, and I began to craft a proposal. Through that process, Van der Merwe came to believe that we would need outside expertise for the applied linguistics aspect of the research. He then arranged for Johan Oosthuizen to be a co-promoter for the study.
Each in their own way, Van der Merwe and Oosthuizen have had an impact on this study for the better. Van der Merwe provided immeasurable support and encouragement throughout. His stress on getting the “logic” of the study right from outset led to his influence manifesting on every page. Oosthuizen’s keen eye for detail has resulted in greater precision of thought.
Along with Van der Merwe and Oosthuizen, I must also acknowledge a number of others. I am thankful for the friendship and support of Karyn Traphagen, who shares similar interests and started at Stellenbosch shortly after I did. I am grateful to those who helped me in the testing phases of this study, including Van der Merwe and Traphagen as well as Matt Jones, Fr. Pat Madden, Walter Brown, Steven Laufer, and Tarsee Li, among others. I am thankful for my former Hebrew instructors Charles Isbell, Archie England, Dennis Cole, Rick Byargeon, and Harold Mosley, without whom I would not have had a foundation for this study. I am also thankful for Gary Wyss, my high school Latin instructor, who awakened in me and many of my classmates the love of a dead language at an early age. I am thankful for my mother and father, who have always loved me unconditionally and for whom my education has always been of the utmost importance. I am thankful for Erica, Abigail, and Katherine — words are inadequate. They bore the brunt of this study more than anyone else. Maybe now, Daddy will not “always have to work” for a while. Finally, I am thankful to God, who, though this study will one day (whether sooner or later) be lost in the passage of time, has spoken a word that endures forever.