A few of you may be aware that my dissertation was published in January 2016. Although I’m not the type of person to “toot my own horn,” I still thought it might be of interest to some of you to know why I studied the topic I did and also to find out a little bit about what I discovered in my research. This first post briefly discusses what compelled me to write on the topic of discipleship in the book of Revelation.
For starters, I was in need of a dissertation topic. Finding a dissertation topic is monumental to the task of doctoral work. Seminar work, though challenging, is easy compared to coming up with a researchable dissertation topic. Comprehensive exams, a necessary hoop to jump through, does not compare to coming up with a dissertation topic that is both interesting to the researcher and something that will contribute to the scholarly discussion on a given topic. My stress in coming up with a viable area of research was compounded by the reality that I was pursuing a doctorate in Christian education, which in many ways was foreign to me. Granted, by the time I got to the point of choosing a dissertation topic I had already become pretty well antiquated with the discipline of Christian education, but I still did not feel comfortable or excited about writing the typical social science dissertation that is a given in the field.
Although my doctorate is in Christian education, I wanted whatever I chose for a dissertation topic to be able to interact closely with Scripture. My prior educational background is loaded with biblical and theological studies. I wanted to not only play to my strengths, but also to my interests. Also my job as an editor of Christian education literature has served to increase my interest in discipleship. After having read Michael Wilkin’s biblical theology of discipleship I noted that he had not treated thoroughly the book of Revelation. I began to wonder why this was the case, which led me to see what was available on the topic. After finding very little had been written on the theme of discipleship in Revelation, I asked several scholars in the field of biblical studies if this was an oversight or was there really nothing much to find. Having read Revelation several times I suspected the theme was present, although not as clearly as it might be in the Gospels or even the Epistles. I was encouraged by their answers to my questions and this set me on a path to explore the topic of discipleship in Revelation.
Thankfully, my program director, Dr. Ken Coley, encouraged me to pursue this topic. He even suggested a major professor from the field of biblical studies with whom I should work (Dr. David Beck). I am also thankful to Dr. Thomas Hudgins who blazed a trail for those of us in the Ed.D. program who were interested in Christian education from other disciplines, such as biblical and theological studies. Thomas, whose dissertation was published in 2014, was a graduate of the Ed.D. program at SEBTS in 2013. I first met Thomas at a seminar I was taking in which he discussed his research and his research method. After the seminar we spent time talking together even more about his research over pizza. We continued to correspond with one another as my dissertation was getting off the ground. These three men and many others helped direct me to the area of research I cover in Following the Lamb: The Theme of Discipleship in the Book of Revelation.