I have received news that I have unanimously passed the Greek qualifying exam in my PhD program! This exam was the last of 11 qualifying exams that I have had to take in my graduate studies (5 in my MA program, and 6 in my PhD program). The Greek exam is, by far, the most difficult (the second most difficult is the Latin qualifying exam, but I consider Latin to be a much easier language than Ancient Greek, and that’s saying something!).
There has been a long journey to get to this point. I began studying Greek six years ago (the year before I entered my Classics MA program at the University of Arizona). During my time there I not only studied Greek every semester, but even took an independent study in Greek prose composition in which I completed all of North and Hillard’s Greek Prose Composition. In addition to this work, I also helped teach summer courses in intensive beginning Greek using Hansen and Quinn’s Greek, an Intensive Course.
Since entering my PhD program at the University of California, Irvine, I have continued to take courses studying Greek almost every quarter. Even then, it took me another three and a half years of studying before I was able to pass this exam. During the last six months, in particular, I have been neither taking nor teaching any courses in order to focus on studying Greek.
A major reason why this exam is so difficult is because our reading list includes both prose and poetry. It is one thing to read Lysias and Herodotus (to make no mention of Thucydides and Demosthenes!), but quite another to read Homer, Sophocles, and Aeschylus. The advantage of studying Classics, though, is that it gives you top notch language skills. All of these authors are considerably more difficult than virtually all of the books of the New Testament, so if you can read them, you will have no problem with Paul and the Gospels.
Because of my language study, I have had considerably less time (and energy!) to write and blog this year than I would have liked. My absence has been noticed by some readers, and it has been frustrating to have to take time away from writing. I still have other graduate projects to work on, but I hope to have time to write more in the near future. If I am away, though, it is because of intense graduate work like this. Either way, there will be time.
I am thinking about taking an extra seventh year in my PhD program, since things have moved a little slower than I originally planned, but an extra year may balance everything out.
In other news, I am also contemplating getting a second PhD in Philosophy, once I finish in Classics. I know, it’s crazy, and a long way down the road, but it is something that I have been thinking about. I have already taken a number of graduate seminars in epistemology, and I would like to do more work in metaphysics and ethics. Another degree in Philosophy would also go a long way in doing counter-apologetics work, so it’s something to think about for the future.