Master of Theology and Hebrew student Daniel Somboonsiri has been accepted to the Ph.D. in Biblical & Theological Studies program under Dr. Daniel Carroll Rodas at Wheaton College. Congratulations, Daniel!
What does this opportunity mean to you?
I'm really still in shock over having been chosen. I knew a few years ago that Dr. Carroll Rodas was the mentor who could best equip me for the research I want to do. I started reading his books, and the books he had read. We started emailing back and forth so that I could do whatever it took to be mentored by him.
After years of preparation, I was the one person chosen this year to work with Dr. Carroll Rodas. While I still do not know how God will provide for my family during my Ph.D. studies, I am overjoyed to have been selected. I had a rough childhood. To be where I am today is the miraculous grace of God, for which I am gratefully undeserving.
How has MU’s Hebrew program helped get you to where you are now?
Multnomah has one of the best Hebrew programs in the world. Though it is a smaller university, our Hebrew program is highly esteemed by those in academia who know of it. During the interview process, I was never asked to prove my capability with Hebrew. It seemed as though my Ph.D. supervisor was well aware of the language training I had received. Beyond the nuts and bolts of knowing the biblical languages, I was given the opportunity through Multnomah to co-author three papers on three unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls. While there was a lot of "on the job" learning for these projects and help from my academic mentors, those projects are now listed on my CV and likely helped me get noticed in the highly competitive Ph.D. application process.
My Ph.D. research will also lean heavily on what I have learned through The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins. My research will integrate cultural studies and the Hebrew Prophets. Dr. Paul Metzger has been instrumental in training me to be an astute student of cultural issues and their relevance to biblical studies. Through my work with New Wine, I was given the opportunity to serve as editor on "Prophetic Lament" by Soong-Chan Rah, which also contributed to my development and application for Ph.D. studies. During the Ph.D. interview process, I was asked about my involvement with New Wine on issues such as interfaith dialogue and advocacy for the poor. In all, it is the overall development process, both academic and spiritual, which has prepared me to move on to study and teach at the highest level.
What are the highlights of MU’s Hebrew program?
We, the MU Hebrew family, do life together. We bond through learning the Hebrew Scriptures. We learn and pray together. This probably wouldn't happen at a larger university. The classroom size allows Dr. Becky Josberger and Dr. Karl Kutz to really invest in our lives and foster community.
Dr. Kutz, with the help of Dr. Josberger, has put together a method for teaching biblical Hebrew that is unlike anything else. They teach Hebrew in a way that brings the language to life and allows it to stick without memorizing hundreds of rules and charts.
What are you hoping to do with your Ph.D.?
My emphasis will be on social ethics in the Hebrew Prophets. My research proposal is to look at Micah through the lens of the social sciences and literary analysis to show how Micah can in part be recognized as social theory. In Micah, God condemns an wicked society that fosters poverty and oppression of all sorts. In contrast, Micah envisions a future world ruled by God in which nations live together in community without war and oppression.
While my Ph.D. work will focus on the book of Micah in its ancient context, my life's goal is to research, teach, and write on how the biblical prophets can serve to shape the life of the Church and the Church's engagement of culture in ever changing contexts.
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