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Seriously off topic….

OK, this is comletely irrelevant to anything related to the blog – especially early Christology, my current topic.   But I thought it was too funny to pass up.   A fellow who lived in my neighborhood, but whom I never knew (to my regret: he sounds like he was a remarkably interesting guy), beloved chemistry professor Dr. James Bonk died Friday at the age of 82, ending his 53-year career at Duke University.

 According to the local newspaper:

Bonk’s classes were such a staple that Duke introductory chemistry classes became known as “Bonkistry” classes, which approximately 30,000 students attended.

He was nationally known for comical incidents with students, one rumored to have taken place in the 1960s.

The Bonk joke is that the weekend before a final exam, four students decided to visit the University of Virginia for the weekend and let off some steam. They were due back Sunday in time for their exam Monday morning, but were too hung over to travel. When they arrived back at Duke late, they told Bonk that they had a flat tire and he agreed to allow a make-up exam the following day.

The students were placed in separate rooms for the make-up exam. The first question, worth five points, was relatively easy and the students were confident they were going to do well. But when they flipped the page, the next question – worth 95 points – asked simply: “Which tire?”

Modern Visions of Jesus
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  1. Avatar
    Pat Ferguson  March 17, 2013

    LMAO 😀

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    natashka  March 17, 2013

    PRICELESS!!!! (To quote John Irving, “Bonky bit Garp!”)

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    Jim  March 17, 2013

    Could you apply the criteria of multiple attestation to the answers on page 2 of the exam?

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    toddfrederick  March 17, 2013


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    FrancisDunn  March 17, 2013

    I love it…..LOL

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    Mikail78  March 18, 2013

    Hey Bart, you hoping for another KU-UNC matchup in the big dance? If that happens, who do you like in that one? 🙂

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  March 18, 2013

      Actually, I’m not. I’m afraid KU (my childhood team, since I grew up in Lawrence) will thrash my Tar Heels, if the Heels even get that far!

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    Dennis  March 18, 2013

    Now we have to comtemplate how the story changed over the years like Dr. Metzger’s squirrel.

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    Christian  March 18, 2013

    Excellent! A probability of success of 1/256 ~ 0.4%

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    Scott F  March 18, 2013

    When I relayed this story to my wife, she knew the punch line. Perhaps we need to do some textual criticism to uncover the original text…

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    bigwalk  March 18, 2013

    Haha …. Love it !!

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    pdahl  March 18, 2013


    Your humorous story reminds me of the following little gem, from my old “Bennett Cerf Vest Pocket Book of Jokes for All Occasions” …

    … The learned but unworldly head of the department devoted to the study of comparative religions at Harvard invariably asked the same question on every final examination: “Who, in chronological order, were the Kings of Israel?” Students came to count on this procedure as a sacred institution and prepared accordingly. Some crabby misanthrope tattled and, one precedent-shattering spring, the professor confounded his class by changing the question to: “Who were the major prophets and who were the minor prophets?” The class sat dumbfounded and all but one member slunk out of the room without writing a word. This sole survivor scribbled furiously and deposited his paper with the air of a conqueror. “Far be it from me,” he had written, “to distinguish between these revered gentlemen, but it occurred to me that you might like to have a chronological list of the Kings of Israel.”

    When I taught geochemistry at Kent State University, I would always precede the first exam with a reading of this particular joke, specifically to encourage the students to respond to the essay questions I asked and not to just tell me everything they knew about other topics.

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    RonaldTaska  March 18, 2013

    It made my day when I read it in the Durham Herald Sun.

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    gregmonette  March 18, 2013

    you have Julie rolling in laughter. She isn’t much interested in reading posts on “Christology”…but this one! In her words “PRICELESS!!!!” and “GENIUS!!!” Great story 🙂

  14. Avatar
    Winslow_dh  March 19, 2013

    To see the students faces …..Priceless

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