When I entered the PhD program at Princeton Theological Seminary, my relationship with Bruce Metzger deepened significantly. At the time, the New Testament program at PTS was one of the best in the country. The faculty teaching the PhD students were all brilliant scholars; all of them except Metzger were principally known for their work in exegesis (the interpretation of the New Testament) and biblical theology (trying to explain the meaning and significance of the text for the individual Christian and the life of the church). None of them, apart from Metzger, was widely published and known outside of scholarly circles; but within scholarly circles they had a very high profile indeed.

My main professors in the program were, in addition to Metzger, Chris Beker (a somewhat wild but truly genius interpreter of the writings of Paul), Paul Meyer (one of the deepest readers of texts I’ve ever known), and David Adams (a junior faculty person who had a brilliantly logical mind, and who was our idol, for all of us in the program – a scholar we wanted to be like).

In a PhD program, the normal “system” (in America; it is different in Europe) involves taking graduate seminars for two years, then taking PhD exams, and then writing a dissertation.  In total it normally takes five years of full time intense work, if you are diligent and able to keep up with the course load.  I would say that the majority of people (maybe even the great majority?) take longer than five years.   And all this is after already having completed a two or, more commonly three-year Masters program.  It’s a lot.

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Bruce Metzger is the author of several books including The Early Versions of the New Testament and The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, And Restoration.