As a graduate of a Bible college and now student at a seminary, I find myself in many conversations about doctoral work. The seminary environment encourages scholastic achievement. I think that is a good thing. Theological education is so essential for a life of service in pastoral ministry. I believe that pursuing excellence in biblical literacy, theological acumen and pastoral care are pursuits worthy of lifelong devotion.
But what about doctoral work? Who should pursue a PhD? What costs are involved? How do you choose the best school/program? Those of us who are considering doctoral work or are convinced to pursue it would do well to listen to the advice of one who has successfully completed a PhD and helped many others to do the same. Ben Witherington has written Is There A Doctor in The House? for that reason. This book is an exploration of the qualities of a successful bible scholar.
Doctor is an incredibly helpful and encouraging book. He answers all of the pressing questions I've ever had about doctoral work. Witherington covers issues like what schools to pick and which programs. He also discusses the costs and benefits of doctoral work. This is not an easy task; it is not for everyone. That is made clear.
I believe that the strongest contribution that Witherington provides in this book is his insistence that scholarship must be done for the church. He understands his role as a scholar to be one that equips and encourages the saints to do the work of ministry (Eph 4). That is a much needed word. Christian scholarship done for the sake of scholarship usually proves of little benefit to the church. Christian scholars are called and equipped by God to bless the church. Any doctoral work needs to be pursued for that very purpose.
I believe that any PhD student or prospective PhD student needs to read this book. There is considerable wisdom in these pages that we need to hear.
NOTE: In accordance with the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission I would like to state that I received a complementary copy of the aforementioned text for the purposes of review. I was not required to furnish a positive review.