Thursday, May 17, 2007

Being counted off for my own ideas?!

I just got out of my 1,2, 3 John and James final. As we passed in our exam, we got our papers back that we turned in a few weeks ago. I was pretty proud of myself on this paper because I knew I had done a good job, and more importantly, this was the first time when I could say, "All translations mine unless otherwise indicated."

My professor's grader was apparently not as enthused as I was about my new-found ability to translate Greek. He actually counted against me for doing it, writing off to the side: "It's dangerous to use your own translation when other scholars have their own translations. It will only weaken your argument." For one, how does using my own translation weaken arguments I make in the paper? No offense, but I think it's only when I'm not "kissing the bride through the veil" that I can truly begin to do exegesis. I picked up on the theological nuances of the passage I did, I think, because I translated it myself. And just who should I use? The two texts we used in class were Expositor's Bible Commentary and New American Commentary and their translations differ.

Secondly, I had some ideas in the paper that were my own. I've been studying at Southeastern for 3 years now, I figure it's high-time I start making statements that I didn't steal from someone else (I always footnote, I don't actually steal). Again, the grader tried to knock me for this. "Where's your source?" Perhaps it's all original. You might be looking at gold, buddy.....not likely, but still! At what point can students begin to give ideas that are their own? At what point am I allowed to branch out from what the commentaries say and maybe give my own two cents? I noted what I thought was a chiastic structure of 1 John 1:8-10. I've taken a class on Psalms and on Hermeneutics...if I can't identify a chiastic structure by now, it's time to pack it up.

I'm glad to say that the professor went back and regraded my paper, even making some notes about the notes the grader had made (on the translation, note, for instance, the professor wrote, "Still, this is a good translation.") and restored my grade from a 92 to a 97.


Alan Knox said...


I've been a grader... power corrupts... even a little power. I'm glad your professor regraded the paper. Some professors always grade their assigned papers.


Mike Aubrey said...

I'm glad he changed your grade. You deserve it. Could I see your paper? I'd be interested.


Danny Zacharias said...

Your last sentence made me laugh! Reading through, I figured you got a really sucky mark (low 80's high 70's) and then you end the post with "he changed it from 92 to 97"! Complaining about a 92 is something I've never heard before :-)

I'm happy they changed it for you, I just found it humorous.

Patrick George McCullough said...

In response to Danny, in Josh's defense, they do have that crazy grading scale at his school that would make a 92 a B. I think that's worth complaining about, especially with the grader's poor judgment.

I was taken aback when you said you use Expositor's Bible Commentary and New American Commentary for your class. I don't think Fuller classes (nor Messiah College classes for that matter... my alma mater) would ever use those. I know that the NAC assumes inerrancy, which I think is problematic, and I don't know much about the EBC, but it's pretty dated, isn't it?

Brian said...

I was surprised too about use of the EBC, although perhaps it had more to do with the author. I took a Hebrew exegesis class on Exodus and we used the EBC, but Kaiser was the author so it had some pretty good stuff in it. We coupled it with Durham's commentary in the WBC (the V-8 of exegetical commentaries).

As to 123 John perhaps I.H. Marshall would have been a better choice?

Josh McManaway said...

Patty G, I'm not sure if the NAC outright assumes inerrancy, although most of their commentators are extremely conservative. I don't know if the EBC is "outdated" necessarily. I haven't been in the game long enough, I suppose, to judge. Naturally for my paper I used otehr commentaries (WBC is a big favorite of mine).


Brian, thanks for stopping by. I haven't read I.H. Marhshall on 123 John. I'll certainly have to give it a read.

Eric Rowe said...

The idea that any commentary from the 20th century is dated reflects a bias that could only have resulted from indoctrination and not actual experience with biblical scholarship. The Bible hasn't changed that much recently. And the best books in biblical studies are not the ephemeral latest and greatest that come out every year or so, they're the enduring greats. Granted, older works necessarily won't address recent developments in the field. But the most important discussions are rarely recent developments. (Caveat- Please don't interpret this to mean that EBC is one of the enduring greats. It isn't.)