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[Synoptic-L] Scolarship II, Director's cut

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  • Tim Reynolds
    ... Sorry, everybody. s Leeaann, Did you get Brooks the Picasso book? Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l List Owner:
    Message 1 of 15 , Jan 7, 2005
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      on 7/1/05 9:39 AM, Jeffrey B. Gibson at jgibson000@... wrote:

      >
      >
      > Peter Head wrote:
      >
      >> At 02:52 PM 1/5/05, John C. Poirier wrote:
      >>> I think
      >>> the situation is really serious, especially in North America, where the
      >>> pilings on of the Q scholars are quickly turned into dagwood sandwiches.
      >>
      >> John,
      >>
      >> I need a bit of help here. I don't know what a dagwood sandwich is. I
      >> wonder if you think it is a bad thing, too easily swallowed, that people
      >> think is good but is really bad for them. Or whether some more information
      >> about North American dietary conventions might help.
      >
      > A "dagwood" is an extremely tall, multi-layered sandwich. It's named
      > after
      > Dagwood Bumstead, the husband of the title character in the comic strip
      > "Blondie"
      > (by Chick Young, I think), who loves to construct (and devour) these
      > monstrosities.
      >
      > Yours,
      >
      > Jeffrey
      > --
      >
      > Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)
      >
      > 1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
      > Chicago, IL 60626
      >
      > jgibson000@...
      >
      > Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
      > List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...


      Sorry, everybody.

      s


      Leeaann, Did you get Brooks the Picasso book?



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    • John C. Poirier
      Having now read the entire exchange between Sanders and Crossan/Reed (after finding it on microfilm last night), I d like to follow up on my earlier comments.
      Message 2 of 15 , Jan 11, 2005
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        Having now read the entire exchange between Sanders and Crossan/Reed (after finding it on microfilm last night), I'd like to follow up on my earlier comments.

         

        Mark Goodacre wrote:

        > But I think my explanation would be that to my knowledge, Crossan

        > shows knowledge only of Jesus and Judaism among Sanders's work on the

        > historical Jesus (brief mention in The Historical Jesus).

         

        Yes! The exchange makes it very clear that Crossan and Reed did not read Sanders's 1993 Theology Today article on "Jesus in Historical Context", as most of Sanders's response to Crossan and Reed's book duplicates what he wrote in that earlier article.  Crossan and Reed could have avoided a lot of basic mistakes if they had read the earlier article, which touches very directly on just about all the historical errors that they make in their 2002 book.

         

        Earlier, I wrote:

         

        > I was bewildered, as were others, by Crossan's remark last year in the New

        > York Review of Books concerning E. P. Sanders's non-use of gospel "source

        > criticism".  The remark, of course, would immediately sound strange to

        > anyone familiar with Sanders's books and articles devoted to gospel source

        > criticism.  Sanders himself was taken aback by the remark, and offered, as

        > an explanation, that it was an "inside joke".

         

        I can now quote Sanders's response to Crossan/Reed’s remark:

         

        Final irony.  My "refusal to use source-analysis" may be an insider's joke.  I have written extensively about the sources of the gospels, but I reject Crossan's opinion that the Gospel of Thomas is very ancient and that the layers of a hypothetical (and, in my view, fictional) document, Q, can be reconstructed.  These dubious hypotheses lie at the heart of his "source-analysis."  I am joined by most scholars in the first rejection and by a good number in the second.

         

        I also wrote:

         

        > Could it be that Crossan's mind has been fooled, on the surface level,

        > into equating rejection of Q with rejection of source criticism itself,

        > and that this is the result of his reading of Wright?  Does Crossan

        > equate Sanders's Q skepticism with Wright's dismissal of source criticism?

         

        I could still ultimately be right about this, but nothing in the Sanders-Crossan exchange suggests any connection with Wright.

         

         

        John C. Poirier

        Middletown , Ohio

         

      • John C. Poirier
        This post is not about the synoptic problem, but I hope it will be acceptable. I need some advice. As many of you know, I haven t yet completed my Ph.D.,
        Message 3 of 15 , Jan 15, 2005
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          This post is not about the synoptic problem, but I hope it will be acceptable.

           

          I need some advice.  As many of you know, I haven’t yet completed my Ph.D., although I’ve been in my program for 12 years now.  My experiences writing my dissertation have been an absolute nightmare.  My advisor is the world’s worst when it comes to working with students.  I’ve had all kinds of problems with him all along, but the latest is that it has been nine months since I sent him my completed dissertation, and he has yet to get back to me about it.  He won’t even answer my emails.  I keep complaining about this to my dean, and he keeps telling me he’ll push my advisor.

           

          Does this kind of stuff go on a lot in higher academia?  Do other advisors take nine months to read their students’ work?  How much of this am I supposed to take?  Is it right for me to continue paying money towards an advisor’s salary when he can’t even read a dissertation in nine months’ time?

           

          What should I do?  Seeing that it’s so hard to find a decent teaching job even *with* the Ph.D. in hand, is it worthwhile for me to continue this nightmare?

           

          Feel free to respond offline.

           

           

          John C. Poirier

          Middletown, Ohio

           

        • Jim West
          ... That s both ridiculous and unacceptable. I would contact not the Dean but the President, and I would find the email address of every Trustee I could find
          Message 4 of 15 , Jan 15, 2005
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            John C Poirier wrote:

            Does this kind of stuff go on a lot in higher academia?  Do other advisors take nine months to read their students’ work?  How much of this am I supposed to take?  Is it right for me to continue paying money towards an advisor’s salary when he can’t even read a dissertation in nine months’ time?

            That's both ridiculous and unacceptable.  I would contact not the Dean but the President, and I would find the email address of every Trustee I could find and raise cain.  I would call the local paper too.  And the tv station- and explain to them my situation.  Also, if your local news has one of those "consumer help" segments, contact them. 

             

            What should I do?  Seeing that it’s so hard to find a decent teaching job even *with* the Ph.D. in hand, is it worthwhile for me to continue this nightmare?

            The PhD isn't just about getting a job, its about personal accomplishment.  Don't let a bad advisor rob you of something you have clearly worked very hard for.  Raise hell.

            Best,

            Jim


            -- 
            Jim West, ThD
            http://web.infoave.net/~jwest
            http://biblical-studies.blogspot.com
            
            
          • Horace Jeffery Hodges
            John, you haven t yet reached the length of time it took me to finish my Ph.D., but that was my own choice. Your advisor s (in)actions are unacceptable. The
            Message 5 of 15 , Jan 15, 2005
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              John, you haven't yet reached the length of time it
              took me to finish my Ph.D., but that was my own
              choice.

              Your advisor's (in)actions are unacceptable. The Dean,
              too, seems to be doing little to help you. You
              shouldn't have to be paying for this in money, time,
              and career.

              Perhaps somebody on this listserve knows your advisor
              and could apply some pressure. Some of Jim's
              suggestions might be worth following, e.g., contacting
              somebody higher up than the Dean. Or possibly other
              scholars in the department?

              Jeffery Hodges

              =====
              University Degrees:

              Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
              (Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts")
              M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
              B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University

              Email Address:

              jefferyhodges@...

              Office Address:

              Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
              Department of English Language and Literature
              Korea University
              136-701 Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu
              Seoul
              South Korea

              Home Address:

              Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
              Seo-Dong 125-2
              Shin-Dong-A, Apt. 102-709
              447-710 Kyunggido, Osan-City
              South Korea

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            • Thomas R. W. Longstaff
              Although it s probably unnecessary let me add one comment. I agree with Jeffrey that your advisor s action (or really inaction) is unacceptable. So, too, the
              Message 6 of 15 , Jan 15, 2005
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                Although it's probably unnecessary let me add one comment.

                I agree with Jeffrey that your advisor's action (or really inaction) is
                unacceptable. So, too, the course that your dean seems to be following seems
                irresponsibly negligent at best. I don't think that I would recommend, at
                this point, writing to trustees, the news media, etc. although at some point
                communication with trustees may be in order. I would suggest that you
                arrange a personal appointment with the president to talk about the
                treatment that you have received, and are receiving, from your advisor and
                the dean. He/she may be able to set things in motion and should do so. If
                that fails, you should contact the chair of the board of trustees rather
                than individual trustees. Having been both a department chair and chair of
                the board of trustees of a graduate school I am convinced that this is the
                best way to go and the one most likely to gain you the assistance that you
                need. You want to get results, not to build hostilities insofar as that is
                possible.

                I hope that the responses from list members provide you some support and
                guidance as you attempt to deal with an unacceptable situation. While these
                comments are not "on topic" for the list, I trust that professional support
                for one another will not be considered inappropriate.

                Thomas R. W. Longstaff, Ph.D., Biblical Languages and Literature, Columbia
                University (where I was fortunate to have a superbly helpful committee
                composed of J. Louis Martyn, Reginald H. Fuller and Raymond E. Brown).



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              • E Bruce Brooks
                To: John Poirier Cc: Synoptic-L On: Advisor Problems From: Bruce [I wasn t going to reply, other than a note of encouragement to John privately, but as I was
                Message 7 of 15 , Jan 15, 2005
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                  To: John Poirier
                  Cc: Synoptic-L
                  On: Advisor Problems
                  From: Bruce

                  [I wasn't going to reply, other than a note of encouragement to John
                  privately, but as I was writing that note, I see words of advice popping up
                  on my screen via Syn-L. Since my experience of academe (which I admit does
                  not include schools of theology) leads me to believe that acting on that
                  advice might well be detrimental to John's present hopes, I venture to reply
                  at large also, hoping to lure further voices in the same vein, and so
                  balance things out. The reply is nevertheless addressed to John, and is
                  meant for him].

                  You ask, and I think it is the central question, "Does this kind of stuff go
                  on a lot in higher academia? The simple answer is, Yes, and a lot worse. The
                  complicated answer goes on to say, And there is not a thing you can do about
                  it except go elsewhere, quietly. A professor is worth more to a school than
                  any student (for one thing, they have more money invested in him). To
                  contend formally with a professor is, in effect, to contend formally with
                  the school (the school will automatically feel involved with the professor;
                  students are The Other). And the rule in school administration is that
                  schools are always right, and they will invariably close ranks against even
                  the most objectively justified complaint about one of "their" professors.
                  That can quickly lead to formal litigation. You can publicize the complaint.
                  One MA student in my experience did just that, with a very similar problem.
                  She gathered signatures. She wasn't expelled, but also, the problem wasn't
                  corrected. The general result of pursuing a formal challenge within the
                  institution will be (1) you will never get a degree from that school, and,
                  quite possibly, (2) no other school will accept you as a transfer student,
                  meaning, you will never get a degree, period. The extreme case in my
                  experience was a professor who stole his PhD student's research and
                  published it as his own. The facts were obvious, but the result was that the
                  student quietly [key word here] left that institution, and resumed his
                  degree work elsewhere. He finally got his degree, and is now teaching - in
                  another country. There were no repercussions for the professor, who
                  continued a high-profile position as an institute leader, and continued to
                  employ the prettiest secretaries in the whole building, and to be courted by
                  everybody in the program, including his own senior colleagues.

                  Clarification: You best know your own institution. But my perception is
                  that, despite some recent attempts to put education on a consumer basis,
                  with implied warranty and all the rest of it, the general presumption of
                  institutions is still that you are not paying for instruction (and teachers
                  are not paid, at least not by the hour, for giving instruction). You are
                  paying for the personal prestige and career enhancement that a degree from
                  that school will eventually provide. You can try to make a consumer case, in
                  the courts, and the lawyers will take your money, but you won't win, and if
                  you should win, your only award will be money, not reinstatement, let alone
                  degree (the court can't award degrees, and almost no court will venture to
                  reverse an academic decision as such). By putting things on that basis, the
                  ultimate form of confrontation, you will only dig yourself a deeper hole in
                  which to lose. Let me add that I entirely share the indignation that
                  permeates previous responses. I could probably top any examples that the
                  previous respondents have to offer. There are cases known to me personally,
                  right now, where a tenured professor has violated every expectation of his
                  employment, and every decency of his implied obligation to students
                  (including refusal to return student papers, or to finalize degree
                  proceedings that stretch over years). The institution, and even the
                  professor's colleagues, are simply not interested; nay, they are
                  enthusiastic. If you make trouble as the victim of such a situation, you
                  will be branded a "trouble-maker" and excluded from the school's, and very
                  possibly the profession's, good graces.

                  The same guideline applies, in my view, to outside litigation and also
                  taking things "higher up" within the institution. It might conceivably be
                  different if you had a relative on the Board of Trustees, or were a close
                  friend with a major donor. But the scenario at best is one of winning a
                  confrontation, and academe does not like confrontation, and, by and large,
                  it systematically penalizes those who (in their view) provoke confrontation.

                  It should be different, I totally agree. In some places it *is* different.
                  Between my writing this paragraph and the previous one, another Syn-L
                  respondent has provided an example. But the general pattern, from all
                  evidence available to me, is as I describe it, and it seems your institution
                  is running true to form. If so, I think you are stuck. It's beyond the power
                  of any individual to reform an institution, let alone the "culture of
                  scholarship" in which those institutions exist. Not only is there no
                  structure for bringing such instances to a proper (morally defensible)
                  ending, either intramurally or otherwise, but such imperfect structures as
                  exist, for determining professorial nonfeasance or even scholarly
                  misconduct, are vanishing from the scene. The trend, as far as I am aware of
                  it (and I read the Chronicle of Higher Education, which is what the
                  administrators also read) is in the direction of worse, rather than better.

                  So follow previous advice if it appeals to you, but only if you have
                  sufficient income, from non-academic sources, to fund that battle and to pay
                  for your life also. Indefinitely. NB: Lawyers cost about $300 per hour,
                  minimum, and the minimum may not be good enough, for a difficult trial case,
                  and you may at some point need competent legal advice, even in an intramural
                  case (the other side will certainly have some).

                  ADVICE

                  After all that, I should now offer some positive advice. This is it, with
                  all modesty, and with the usual "no warranty" disclaimers, but in good faith
                  and in helpful spirit. (1) Don't do anything to call attention to yourself.
                  Within that admittedly hard limit, (2) Quietly see if there is another
                  person in the department (or whatever) who could take over the job of thesis
                  advisor. If so, very gingerly and privately and with use of all the
                  subjunctive and conditional and implicational resources of the language, see
                  if that person would be willing to do so. Perhaps only a shifting of roles
                  on the thesis committee would be involved. In any case, don't make your
                  complaints part of the inquiry to the alternative advisor. It won't help,
                  for reasons listed above; it will polarize things in the wrong direction.
                  Also, if the present advisor routinely delays or denies feedback and other
                  student guidance, his colleague will know it, and may already be shouldering
                  the burden it creates (I know one guy who is doing his own work, plus the
                  work of two no-show tenured colleagues; he gets very tired by the end of the
                  week). If not, (3) see if there is another institutional program in the area
                  that would take your project on. That is, explore the possibilities of both
                  long-range and short-range shifting of your work. Transfers at the graduate
                  level are difficult, whether within a department or between institutions,
                  but they do happen, they are perhaps even a little more common now than 50
                  years ago, and that option is a lot more peaceful to the soul than the
                  demands of litigation (which, even if you have providently kept a full
                  "paper trail" of your own work and your advisor's nonfeasance, are much
                  greater than you may imagine; copying, filing, annotating, midnight oil,
                  general psychic wear and tear). With those alternative possibilities known
                  (never, repeat never, enter the office of a superior without being prepared
                  to lose everything in the ensuing conversation), (4) talk to your advisor.
                  Ask if there is some problem (eg, a problem of doctrine, or a problem of
                  sources, or simply a problem of personality) with your work. Nonfeasance is
                  one way a professor may take to tell you so. If such a problem emerges, see
                  what can be done to solve it. Utter subordination is the right mode in which
                  to put these questions. The solution may be to adopt conclusions, or
                  methods, or style, more in keeping with those of the advisor. Some thesis
                  advisors (and I would think, especially so in the NT field) see themselves
                  not as research facilitators, but as orthodoxy enforcers. Your solution in
                  that case is to embrace orthodoxy, whatever that may mean in your particular
                  situation.

                  Whether you are comfortable doing that is up to you. A word of personal
                  experience: I have often been told, at various stages along the way, and by
                  persons entirely sympathetic with my aspirations, Oh, just do what they
                  want, you can say what you think later. Often. But I have never been told,
                  OK, now you have paid your dues (that is the idiom), you are officially one
                  of us, so tell us what you think. Never. Students may imagine that they are
                  being trained to think. Would it were true. Once in a while, it is indeed
                  true. More typically, they are being trained to accept, and devotedly
                  promulgate, what their teachers think. The students of one modern China
                  expert now populate Chinese and history departments across the continent.
                  They are recognizable by their almost comical predictability. They all know
                  the same answers to the same question. It is that situation that many
                  trainers of graduate students are looking to achieve.

                  I was once crossing Harvard Yard with a very senior colleague in the French
                  Department, who had shifted his field entirely from the one he had long ago
                  been hired for. He grinned at me and said, I have tenure; I can do whatever
                  I want. That, I may say, is an extremely unusual use of tenure (or
                  equivalent protection). The usual use of tenure is to do nothing, except
                  cash the checks (this was before the days of direct deposit). Nonfeasance
                  (and hopefully your case is nothing worse) proliferates accordingly.

                  I know, principle might dictate something less abject and conciliatory. I
                  have principles too. The thing with following principle, though, is that one
                  wakes up one morning and realizes that one is not working for a career in
                  the field (as was originally the idea) but for immortality in the form of an
                  article in the New Yorker, profiling one's struggles and empathizing with
                  one's failures. It's fame of a sort, but be sure that it is worth it, as the
                  sole reward of a combative response to the situation, before embarking on a
                  combative response to the situation.

                  As for one's very natural indignation, which I repeat that I fully share, go
                  out to the neighborhood bar and drink it off. That's what they have
                  neighborhood bars for. Or write the New Yorker article yourself, and leave
                  it among your papers, to be submitted under a nom de plume by your executor,
                  sometime in the future.

                  I don't mean to be cynical, but I do mean to be helpful, and I wish you well
                  in extricating yourself from the situation with a minimum of friction and a
                  maximum of degree.

                  Use what tact you can, and beyond that, may good fortune attend you.

                  Bruce

                  E Bruce Brooks
                  Warring States Project
                  University of Massachusetts at Amherst


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                • John C. Poirier
                  I d like to thank everyone for the thoughtful advice about my problem. I m not sure about the course I ll take, but I ll probably sit tight for a little while
                  Message 8 of 15 , Jan 17, 2005
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                    I'd like to thank everyone for the thoughtful advice about my problem.

                    I'm not sure about the course I'll take, but I'll probably sit tight for a
                    little while longer before I take the next step. And that step, if I take
                    it, will probably be to write to the Chancellor of the school.

                    Unfortunately, I'm my advisor's first ever Ph.D. student, so I have no way
                    of gauging whether I'm an exception to the way he treats students. (It's
                    probably not good to be someone's first ever student.)


                    John C. Poirier
                    Middletown, Ohio



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