A Year in Essays: Semester 1 Overview

As many who read my blog (or know me AFK) are aware, the academic year 2010-2011 was spent studying for an MA at London School of Theology. It was awarded to my early in December, with Merit (yes, I am a little bit proud of that). All this meant submitting a little under 50,000 words in essays, including a 20,000 word dissertation. Over the next three weeks, I want to make each of the essays that I wrote available on the site for people to read, with a short summary of each so you can see if it would be interesting to you. I don’t expect anyone to endure reading all of them, but some of you might find something of interest in there, even if it’s just a big long bibliography to help add sources to your own essay!

Semester 1 was a fun time for me: getting stuck into not only a new course, but a new discipline, with new class mates and teachers, each with their own way of doing things. Each semester had three modules, including the core Wisdom module running through both. In the first semester I took a module on Exegesis of Mark’s Gospel and one on Transforming Contemporary Apologetics.

One of the difficulties we had to learn to navigate with the course in this first semester was that the assessment (the one essay) did not match up to the majority of the learning (the seminars, along with the preparation and reading for each of them). Simply put, the essay titles each covered approximately the content of one single seminar in much greater depth, so in some senses, the hours of reading required to be intelligent and on the ball in most of those seminars was ‘wasted’, or at least unassessed. As the term drew to an end, as the deadlines started to get big in our minds, it’s no surprise that the quantity and quality of reading for the seminars decreased. I don’t know the solution to this problem, perhaps it just calls out a bit more maturity in us as students to know that our learning and our assessment are not the same thing and to do both anyway.

The essays for semester 1 were due on 7 February – four days after our baby was due to be born. I knew that babies can come early as well as late (though Nathaniel was not born until the 10th), so all the essays had to be written with plenty of time to spare – I did not want to be driving to hospital panicking that I still needed to writ another thousand words! This was a tough but important discipline for me – I’ve always been a bit last-minute, using the pressure of deadlines to focus me on work. Still, most of the writing got done during the Christmas break, leaving January quite relaxed.

I  will write a separate post for each of the essays, aiming to get through two semesters and the dissertation within three weeks. I’ll also aim to write some other things too – trying to make sure you don’t get too fed up of academic writing! As I write the posts, I will link to them from here.

Wisdom (in the Old Testament)

Apologetics (in the postmodern era)

Mark (the Temple and the fig tree)