I have been posting some reminiscences of my relationship with my mentor, Bruce Metzger, one of the great New Testament textual scholars of the twentieth century. Here I talk about one of my direct involvements with him as his student.
Metzger directed my PhD exams, and was responsible for writing the questions for one of them. To explain that situation requires a good bit of background.
In a typical PhD program, at the end of two years of taking seminars (usually three a semester, for four semesters), a student takes the PhD exams. These go by different names: “Comprehensive exams” (that’s what we called them at Princeton Seminary); “Preliminary Exams” (i.e. preliminary to writing a dissertation); “Qualifying exams” (i.e. that qualify you to move on to the dissertation stage) – all of these refer to the same battery of exams. In most respects the way it was set up at Princeton was fairly typical – it is the way we also have it set up in the PhD program that I teach in at UNC. Here at UNC, students take five examinations, each of them four hours in length, followed by a two-hour oral examination before the examining committee. At Princeton we took four exams, but they were six hours in length, followed by an oral exam in front of the entire biblical studies faculty.
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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.