PhD Field Essays at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with Resources Listed


The field essay in Old Testament will consist of two questions, each designed to take an hour of the applicant’s 2-hour time allotment. Questions will be as follows:

1. Hebrew Translation. The applicant will be asked to translate a passage of approximately five to ten verses of Hebrew prose from the text of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. The applicant will not need to bring a text but will be provided with a photocopy of the passage to be translated. The applicant will be asked to parse forms and explain syntax constructions from the selected passage. Moreover, applicants will be asked basic questions from Hebrew phonology and morphology. Dictionaries or other reference aids may not be used. The purpose of this translation exercise is to determine the extent of the applicant’s expertise in Hebrew language.

2. General Question. For the second hour of the field essay, the applicant will be asked to write an essay on a Old Testament topic. Two subjects will be listed, and the student will be asked to choose one of the two. For this portion of the exam, the applicant should follow the suggested bibliography attached to this sheet.

Instructions: In preparing for the general question in Old Testament, students are advised to study at least two of the three works listed in each of the two categories listed below. The exam will consist of two questions from which one is to be selected. Questions are generally fairly broad, involving some major period or method of Old Testament research or asking for a discussion of scholarship in a particular book of the Old Testament. Usually the two questions will involve two distinct areas of Old Testament study, such as one from the Pentateuch and one from the Prophets.


I. Introduction to the Old Testament

Childs, B. S. Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979.

Harrison, R. K. Introduction to the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969.

Rendtorff, Rolf The Old Testament. An Introduction. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1991.

II. Interpretation of the Old Testament

Barton, John, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Biblical Interpretation. Cambridge: University Press, 1998.

Knight, Douglas A., and Gene M. Tucker, eds. The Hebrew Bible and Its Modern Interpreters. The Bible and Its Modem Interpreters Series. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1985.

VanGemeren, Willem A, ed. A Guide to the Old Testament Theology and Exegesis. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997.



The field essay in New Testament will consist of two questions, each designed to take an hour of the applicant’s 2-hour time allotment. Questions will be as follows:

I . Greek Translation. The applicant will be asked to translate a passage of approximately ten to twelve lines from the Nestle text of the Gospel of Mark. The applicant will not need to bring a text but will be provided with a photocopy of the passage to be translated and a page of vocabulary covering the passage from Sakae Kubo, A Reader’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. (Applicants will be expected to know the “special vocabulary” listed by Kubo at the beginning of the Gospel of Mark as well as the vocabulary of common New Testament words in Appendix I of Kubo. These words will not be provided in the Kubo entry for the passage to be translated.)

2. General Question. For the second hour of the field essay, the applicant will be asked to write an essay on a New Testament topic. Two subjects will be listed, and the applicant will be asked to choose one of the two. For this portion of the exam, the applicant should follow the suggested bibliography attached to this sheet.

Instructions: In preparing for the general question in New Testament, students are advised to study at least two of the three works listed in each of the two categories fisted below. The exam will consist of two questions from which one is to be selected. Questions are generally fairly broad, involving some major period or method of New Testament research or asking for a discussion of scholarship in a particular book of the New Testament. Usually the two questions will involve two distinct areas of New Testament study, such as one from the Gospels and one from Pauline studies.

I. Histories of New Testament Research:

Riches, John K. A Century of New Testament Study. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1993.

McKnight, Scot and Grant R. Osborne. The Face of New Testament Studies: A Survey of Recent Research. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004.

Neill, Stephen and Tom Wright. The Interpretation of the New Testament, 1861-1986 Oxford: At the University Press, 1988.

Kümmel, Werner George. The New Testament: The History of the Investigation of its Problems Trans. S. M. Gilmore and H. C. Kee. Nashville: Abingdon, 1970.


II. New Testament Introductions:

Carson, D. A., D. J. Moo and Leon Morris. An Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.

Guthrie, Donald. New Testament Introduction. Revised edition. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1990.

Kostenberger, Andreas J., L. Scott Kellum, and Charles Quarles. The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2009.

Kümmel, Werner George. Introduction to the New Testament. Revised edition, trans. H C. Kee. Nashville: Abingdon, 1975.



Question: The entrance exam in Biblical Theology will consist of one question and two translations. Each section (the translation and the question) are designed to take an hour of the applicant’s two hour time allotment.

1. Translation: The applicant will translate a short portion of the Hebrew text and the Greek text giving relevant parsings as requested. The passage will come from the Hebrew Scriptures and the Greek Scriptures respectively.

2. General Question: The applicant will be asked to write an essay on a Biblical Theology topic. The student should focus their studies on the history and methods of Biblical Theology. The applicant should follow the suggested bibliography to study.


Students are advised to study all of the works below. Questions are generally fairly broad, involving some major issue, method, or the history of Biblical Theology.


Klink and Lockett, Understanding Biblical Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.

Hamilton, God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010

Hafemann and House, Central Themes in Biblical Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007.

Childs, Biblical Theology of OT and NT. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 2012.

C.H. Scobie “History of Biblical Theology” in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2000).



The field essay in Church History and Historical Theology will consist of two questions, each designed to take an hour of the applicant’s 2-hour time allotment. Questions will be as follows:

I . A Question on the Major Turning Points of Christian History.

In preparation for this question, read Mark A. Noll’s Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997). Two questions will be given, and you will be asked to choose one of the two. The questions may focus on any of the “turning points” identified by Noll and may call for comparison or contrast between two or more of them. The essays will be evaluated for accuracy of detail and interpretive insight.

2. A Question Pertaining to the Applicant’s Major Area of Interest.

Once again, two questions will be offered and you will be asked to choose one of the two. The questions will require a familiarity with the historical events and ideas that structure your particular area of interest.

To help you prepare for this part of the field essay, read the work or works suggested for your chosen area below:


Jaroslav Pelikan. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975.

Robert Louis Wilken. The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005.

Reformation Studies

Alister McGrath. Reformation Thought. 3rd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999.

Steven Ozment. The Age of Reform: 1250-1550. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1980.

American Christianity

Nathan Hatch. The Democratization of American Christianity. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1989.

Sidney E. Ahlstrom.A Religious History of the American People. New Haven, Yale Univ. Press, 1972.

Baptist History

Robert G. Torbet. A History of Baptists. 3rd. ed. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1973.

Walter B. Shurden. Not a Silent People: Controversies That Have Shaped Southern Baptists. Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 1995.



In preparation for this essay, review each of the areas of systematic theology. Review each area’s particular doctrines and their rationale (including biblical and traditional theological argumentation). Review as well the most significant issues and controversies in each area, whether patristic, scholastic, modern or evangelical. At the time of the field essay, you will be given two questions, each representing a different area of theology. You will be asked to answer one of the two questions.


1. To assist you in this review, consult a published systematic theology such as one of the following:

Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, Second Edition. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998. The first edition, published in three volumes from 1983-85 is still valuable as well.

Alister McGrath. Christian Theology: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994.

Stanley Grenz. Theology for the Community of God. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1994.

Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.

Very helpful on issues in the modern era is: Peter Hodgson and Robert King. Christian Theology, An Introduction to Its Traditions and Tasks. Rev. Ed. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985.


2. Also helpful for your preparation are reference works such as:

 The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought

The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology

 New Dictionary of Theology

A New Handbook of Christian Theology


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Delighting in the Trinity (sermon)

I read Delighting in the Trinity by Mike Reeves and loved it so much I decided to preach a sermon on the Trinity almost immediately at CrossView Church LA. Listen to it here.

Posted in Christian Tradition, CrossView Church, CrossView Church LA Sermons, My sermons | 2 Comments

Desire God’s Word

I preached Psalm 19.7-11 at CrossView Church LA on the first Sunday of 2013 encouraging our church family to desire God’s Word. Listen to it here.

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Convert. Commit. Grow. Go.

This is the gospel growth process for those following and wanting to follow Jesus. I explained it in a sermon preached at CrossView Church LA in February 2013. Listen to it here.

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John Piper on Jonathan Edwards and divinity

John Piper writes:

Edwards exhorts us to a single-minded occupation with God in season and out of season. Edwards calls this effort to know God “divinity” rather than theology. It is a science far above all other sciences. Listen to what he says we should occupy ourselves with:

God himself, the eternal Three in one, is the chief object of this science; and next Jesus Christ, as God-man and Mediator, and the glorious work of redemption, the most glorious work that ever was wrought: then the great things of the heavenly world, the glorious and eternal inheritance purchased by Christ, and promised in the gospel; the work of the Holy Spirit of God on the hearts of men; our duty to God, and the way in which we ourselves may become . . . like God himself in our measure. All these are objects of this science. (Works, II, 159)

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What Desiring God and the Pastoral Staff of Bethlehem Baptist Church Emphasize in Their Teaching

(Note: this was on the website in the past though I can’t find it now. I’ve always found this helpful and wanted to make it available for preachers and teachers to go back to again and again. What would you add or take out?)

The Nature of God

God is glorious (Exodus 15:11Psalm 145:5). His glory consists in the overwhelming and overflowing beauty which stems from the sum total of all His attributes working together in perfect harmony. God is perfect in His holiness (Exodus 15:11Isaiah 6:3I Peter 1:16), justice (Psalm 99:4Luke 19:7-8Hebrews 6:10), wisdom (Romans 11:33I Corinthians 2:7Ephesians 3:10), power (Isaiah 44:24Job 9:12Jeremiah 32:17), grace and mercy (Ephesians 1:6-7;2:47-9Romans 3:24), and love (I John 4:7-816Romans 5:18John 3:16).

The Motive of God

God not only is glorious, He loves His glory with infinite intensity (Isaiah 48:9-11) and therein lies His righteousness (Romans 9:14,15Exodus 33:18,19). For God to be righteous, He must love what is best; therefore His ultimate loyalty must be to the maintenance and manifestation of His own glory. In other words, all that God does, He does for His own name’s sake (Ezekiel 36:20-23). God created humanity for His glory (Isaiah 43:7,21); God redeems sinners for the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:5-61214Romans 3:2615:7); God empowers Christians to live for His glory, both individually (I Corinthians 10:31I Peter 4:11) and corporately (Ephesians 3:10); and God’s ultimate goal for His people is that they might see and enjoy His glory forever (John 17:24). His ultimate will or plan for history is that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge and the glory of God as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14, cf. Numbers 14:21). But God’s unswerving zeal for His own glory does not mean that God is unconcerned about man’s welfare. No, God’s mercy and grace toward undeserving sinners is the apex of His glory (Romans (9:22-23). And the greatest possible good for man is to see God face to face, just as He is (I Corinthians 13:12I John 3:2) and to behold the beauty of the Lord (Psalm 27:4). In fact, God’s absolute faithfulness to His own glory manifests itself in God’s absolute faithfulness to His covenant promises (His glory is at stake in whether He keeps His word or not) and thus it becomes the ultimate ground of our assurance (Psalm 143:111Daniel 9:14-19).

The Sovereignty of God

The God of the Bible is the creator of the whole visible and invisible universe and He is the sovereign ruler of it. From all eternity, He freely and unchangeably, in His most holy wisdom, ordained whatsoever comes to pass. To use the words of Paul, God does “all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11), having sovereign control of all events from the events of rulers and nations (Daniel 4:253234-35) to the flight of a sparrow (Matthew 10:29). In particular, God’s sovereignty is worked out in the area of salvation. To ensure that the salvation of sinners abounds to the praise of God’s glory, God saves His people by grace alone apart from works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). The sovereignty of God’s grace is seen in God’s unconditional election of His people out of the mass of sinful humanity for salvation (Romans 8:299:6-23Ephesians 1:4), the glorious atonement of Christ which actually accomplishes the salvation of God’s people (I Peter 3:18), the irresistible grace of God’s effectual call (Romans 8:30I Peter 2:9) and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (Jeremiah 31:31-34Ezekiel 36:26ffJohn 3:4Titus 3:5) which enable and move a person to respond to the gospel of Christ in saving faith, and God’s persevering in grace with his saints (I Peter 1:5Jude 1John 10:28-30Philippians 1:6) so that His people will in fact persevere to the end and be saved.

The Priority of Worship

Although the three ministry priorities of Bethlehem Baptist Church (worship, nurture and outreach) are all crucial and are all intertwined, nevertheless, worship stands at the top of the pyramid. The ultimate end for which God created man is to see God’s glory and worship Him fully. Worship is the motive and the goal of all our deeds of love done to fellow believers (nurture) or to unbelievers (outreach). Seeing and being captivated by the glory of God makes us long to align ourselves with God’s purposes of love. And the goal of our loving others is to build believers and unbelievers alike into people with greater and greater capacities and desires to praise the glory of God’s grace.

The Combination of Head and Heart

In the Christian life, emotions are crucial and thinking is crucial. God is not honored by either an unfeeling, joyless, loveless intellectualism or by an unthinking, uncritical emotionalism. Both are needed-minds that are gripped by the truth of God acquired through the serious and rigorous study of Scripture, and hearts that are on fire with intense emotions of love for God and His glory, awe of His majestic holiness, gratitude for His mercy, and fear of His wrath. In the final analysis, what God wants most is our hearts. That was the problem with the Pharisees-they honored God with their lips but their hearts were far from Him (Matthew 15:8). One of Jesus’ most chilling threats was to professing believers who had no emotions toward God. They were neither hot nor cold-they were lukewarm. And Jesus promised to spit them out of His mouth (Revelation 3:15-16). But the way God longs to reach our hearts is through our minds. It is through the truth of Scripture that we become transformed people through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). This truth comes through the discipline of careful reading of the text (Ephesians 3:4) seeking to find the author’s intended meaning. The role of the Holy Spirit is not to add anything to the text but to make the heart of the reader humble so that he or she will welcome and embrace the truth (I Corinthians 2:14). Thus our position could be summed up as follows: “The heart is crucial, through the head.”

The Obedience of Faith

Faith is essential in the human heart if we are to glorify God. God is shown to be glorious when we trust Him, especially in suffering. Faith is seeing and savoring the glory of God in Christ crucified, risen, and reigning for the good of His people (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). This “savoring” means receiving in Christ the superior satisfaction of His promises based on His finished work of atonement (Philippians 3:7-9). Faith is the soul’s embrace of all that God is and promises to be for us in Christ (Hebrews 11:1). It honors God by being confident that God will keep His promises to those who set their hope on Him (Romans 4:20-21). Thus faith is future-oriented while resting firmly on the past work of Christ on the Cross and in the resurrection. Faith glorifies God because it magnifies His power, wisdom, grace and faithfulness to work for us the good that we cannot do for ourselves.

Therefore, saving faith is of such a dynamic quality that it inevitably produces “the work of faith” (1 Thessalonians 1:3;2 Thessalonians 1:11), that is, works of love. Saving faith inevitably “works through love” (Galatians 5:6). Faith without works is not saving faith (James 2:14). But that obedience is never an act that merits or earns God’s favor. God’s favor is based on the imputed righteousness of Christ which is ours by virtue of faith alone, that is apart from any other basis or means (Romans 3:28Romans 4:4-5). Nevertheless, the faith that justifies is never alone in him that believes (Westminster Confession, 11.2). Justifying faith, which is a gift from God (2 Timothy 2:25Philippians 1:29Ephesians 2:8-10), is so satisfied in all that God promises to be for us in Christ on the basis of His finished work on the cross that it breaks the power of sins inferior promises. Thus, justifying faith inevitably sanctifies, that is, sets us on a life of gradual transformation into the likeness of Christ (Acts 26:182 Thessalonians 2:13).

This obedience to Christ is an “obedience of faith.” We trust him that His promises are true and superior to all that sin has to offer, and from this trust the power of sin is broken. This kind of obedience, while not perfect in this life, is necessary for final salvation. There is a holiness without which we will not see the Lord (Hebrews 2:14Galatians 5:21). But this necessity is not the necessity of a basis or a means of justification. The basis of justification is the finished work of Christ and His imputed righteousness. The means is faith alone. But the obedience that flows from faith is the evidence of the genuineness of the faith and therefore is “necessary” in the sense that if it is not produced in the end, the faith is shown to be “dead” or “vain,” as James says, and not saving faith. So we must be careful here to guard three things vigilantly: 1) the complete sufficiency of the work of Christ as the sole ground or basis of our right standing with God; 2) faith alone as the sole means or instrument of the righteousness of Christ being imputed to our account; and 3) the subsequent and consequent obedience that is the necessary evidence that this faith in this work of Christ and all that it purchased for us (Romans 8:32) is real.

We recommend that if you are interested in understanding this indispensable role of the “obedience of faith,” you read John Piper’s book, The Purifying Power of Living by Faith in FUTURE GRACE. The aim of this book is to show how the faith that justifies also necessarily sanctifies, which is what the Westminster Confession says that it does: “Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is not dead faith, but worketh by love.”

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Lessons Learned from Jonathan Edwards part 2 (from Doug Sweeney’s book: “Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word”)

There are many strengths and some weaknesses that I’ve learned from the life of Jonathan Edwards.  He lived from 1703 to 1758 and was the pastor of the Congregational Church in Northampton, then he served as a missionary in Stockbridge, and just before he died he moved to be the president of the College of New Jersey, which later became Princeton University.

(This is part 2. See part 1 for “Lessons from Jonathan Edwards’ Strengths”)

Lessons from Jonathan Edwards’ Weaknesses

The weaknesses I’ll seek to avoid from his life are the following: (1) he owned slaves, (2) he held to a Presbyterian polity, (3) he negotiated much on a tough financial situation with the church, and (4) he handled a pastoral situation poorly and did not fix it.

Edwards owned slaves.  He treated them well from what I read and he shared the gospel with them which was treating them significantly better than most in his day.  But he still owned them and did not see how this was sinful from the Scriptures.  It’s easy for me to avoid this slavery in this country since my parents were both born in the Philippines, so I’m a minority (though in LA, everyone’s a minority).  Plus, slavery has been abolished so the desire to oppress someone would also have to create a desire for me to break the law and heap on warranted public and social criticism.  But racism is weakness and I hope to avoid it.  The bigger weakness which in some measure is absolutely unavoidable is being unable to see cultural blind spots.  Doubtless in 300 years someone will look back on our time in church history (if the Lord tarries) and say, how did those pastors and Christians believe the gospel and do that?  The best way I know to avoid this as much as possible is to pursue humility, be open to critique personally and corporately from others, and study history.

Presbyterian polity is another weakness I will avoid (unless I eventually am convinced it is the biblical polity).  I am a congregationalist in that I believe in the autonomy of the local church though churches should associate/network with other gospel churches.  I believe in a plurality of elders too.

Edwards made a mistake in handling the bad book controversy [1] where boys saw a manual for early modern midwives (which would be the closest thing to pornography in that day).  Some of the boys used it to harass several adolescent girls.  Edwards attacked the problem publicly from the pulpit embarrassing the families involved and calling names of some boys for questioning but making no distinction between witnesses and culprits.  He then further made the mistake of failing to facilitate a reconciliation.  The lesson to be learned here is to publicly repent as a leader when I sin.  And before that, have a plurality of elders speaking into my life and holding me accountable and helping my wife in that.  Edwards didn’t seem to have a plurality of elders in his church because that was not the ecclesial culture of his day.  This allowed for his mistake to go uncorrected and for him to go on unadmonished.  Setting up accountability with other men in the church and a culture of review like Mark Dever’s service reviews at Capitol Hill Baptist Church is an ideal I’d like to implement in months to come when we have other leaders and a more established base of leaders in CrossView Church.

Edwards also had initiated a long negotiation with the town about his salary (139).  He had to for the sake of providing for his children and the cultural context was different (you couldn’t just pick up another part-time job in this day).  So I can understand his negotiations.  But in my context I’ll raise support outside or find other work to make ends meet before I make the church stubbornly pay me what I need to support my family apart from seeking other options.

The last weakness of Edwards that I will avoid is wearing a wig when I preach.  That is horrible.  Edwards probably wore a wig when he preached, at least sometimes.  Actually, he was contextually sensitive, so it may have been a strength.  So contextualize to not distract or unnecessarily stumble, yes.  Wear a wig because I think it looks cool, no.

[1] Douglas Sweeney, Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word, (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2009), 138-9.  All other page number references in parentheses in this blog post is from this book.

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