Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Interpretation and Theology
“Empowering 21st Century Pentecostal Scholars for Global Academic and Ministry Leadership”
The PhD in Biblical Interpretation and Theology (PhD BTH) is an advanced, rigorous program integrating New and Old Testament exegesis with the disciplines of both biblical and systematic theology.
The program provides for original research and scholarship in one of three specializations: New Testament Interpretation and Biblical Theology, Old Testament Interpretation and Biblical Theology, or Biblical Exegesis and Systematic Theology.
The PhD in Biblical Interpretation and Theology is intended for exegetically and theologically knowledgeable students desiring to prepare for scholarly theological leadership in the church. The program’s special emphasis on the integration of hermeneutics, exegesis and theology reflects the central role that theology plays in the life of the church. Students engage in advanced analysis of the reciprocal influence of hermeneutics, exegesis, biblical theology and systematic theology. The development of well-grounded biblical theologians in today’s church is all the more pivotal as the church interacts with a rapidly changing, vastly challenging global culture.
While the program includes examination of hermeneutics and theology within the Pentecostal tradition, it also is designed to explore biblical scholarship within a broader, evangelical framework, thus preparing individuals for service to the church and academy in diverse contexts.
How Will This Degree Prepare Me for Vocation?
Many of our current students are already serving in a wide variety of vocations that include academic teaching and writing, and various forms of leadership in the local church, global missions, parachurch organizations and denominations. The program equips students specifically for scholarly leadership in biblical studies, theological studies, and as learned practitioners in other areas of service to the church. The modular scheduling of our classes makes it possible for persons already in ministry positions to remain in place and not relocate in order to pursue PhD studies. You will graduate from this program having made a significant contribution to original research in your area of specialization.
How Will I Progress Through the Program?
The PhD BTH program is structured on a five year, full-time model, consisting of at least two and a half years for the course work (more commonly three years) followed by an additional two years of comprehensive exams and dissertation research and writing. Courses are offered three times per year in a modular format on the campus of Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Evangel University. The program may be completed in four years if the student has exceptional biblical and modern language skills and no entrance deficiencies; however, the average time to complete the program is anticipated to be approximately five years.
Requirements for Degree Completion
The PhD BTH consists of 60 credits earned in the following categories of study:
- 20 credits of core seminars
- 8 credits of supervised readings
- 20 credits of electives
- Comprehensive exams covering the core seminars and specialty corpus
- 12 credits for the Dissertation proposal, research and writing
Timeline for Completion of Coursework
An average student load is 12–16 credits per year. Full-time status requires at least 4 credits per semester. Usually students can expect to complete the coursework within three years. An additional two years, at least, should be anticipated to sustain the comprehensive exams and complete the dissertation. That means the student can anticipate approximately five years from the time of full admission to degree completion if the student maintains full-time status during the coursework phase, soon thereafter sustains the comprehensive exams, and then completes the dissertation in a timely fashion. The timeline for those who receive provisional admission, meaning the student is deficient in a prerequisite such as one or more of the language requirements, or theology/church history, is anticipated to be longer.
Language Proficiency Timeline
Proficiency in Greek and Hebrew, for those who do not have sufficient coursework in the biblical languages, must be demonstrated within the first two years of coursework. Proficiency may be demonstrated by examination, or by completion (with a grade of B or better) of Greek/Hebrew courses at AGTS or another accredited institution of higher learning. The coursework required to satisfy the minimum biblical language requirement is two years of either Greek or Hebrew, and one year in the other.
Proficiency in the approved modern language (usually German or French) must be demonstrated prior to the comprehensive exams. Proficiency may be demonstrated by transcript evidence of successful coursework (grade of B or better), by examination, or by completing the AGTS German or French for Research courses with a grade of B or better.
You will choose one of three specializations as your area of original research and dissertation:
- New Testament Interpretation and Biblical Theology
- Old Testament Interpretation and Biblical Theology
- Biblical Exegesis and Systematic Theology
- Academic: Bachelor's degree or the equivalent from an accredited college or university. An accredited MDiv or MTh/ThM, MPhil or STM with a focus on biblical and theological studies, with a minimum of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. Other Master's-level (MA, MATS, MACM, MAR, etc.) degrees will be considered if the student can demonstrate aptitude for advanced study.
- The GRE (Graduate Record Exam) is required.
- English: For applicants whose primary language is other than English, a TOEFL score of 585 or equivalent.
- Writing: Submission and approval of a writing sample that demonstrates graduate-level research and writing skills.
- Vocational Essay: A 2000-word Vocational Essay is required that details a) the applicant's personal testimony and spiritual journey; b) his or her personal sense of vocation to academic and ministry leadership; c) professional goals; and d) plans to make original contributions to his or her field.
- Biblical Languages: One full year each (2 semesters) of biblical Hebrew and NT Greek. Students lacking coursework for this entrance requirement may demonstrate competency in a biblical language by taking a proficiency exam. Students planning to concentrate in either the Old Testament or the New Testament must have a second full year (2 semesters) of either Hebrew or NT Greek, corresponding to their concentration.
- Research Language Proficiency. The program requires research proficiency in English as the primary research language and a second modern research language (usually German or French). Competency in a modern research language must be demonstrated during the first two years of the program before beginning work on the dissertation. Competency can be demonstrated in one of two ways: 1) successful completion of a modern language course that facilitates and measures translation skill, or 2) taking and successfully completing a modern language translation exam offered through the AGTS PhD Biblical Interpretation and Theology program.
Note: Additional ancient and modern languages may be required as needed for the completion of dissertation research. OT and NT disciplines require extra work in their respective languages (see Language: Biblical above). Other linguistic skills may be required depending on one's dissertation topic and the modern language most germane to the field of study. For example, a student doing a dissertation on a Latin American Liberation theologian would need to translate Spanish. A dissertation on a Western church father of the 4th century would likely require translation facility in Latin. Again, these requirements must be met before the formal research and writing stage of the dissertation.
- Recommendations: Three completed Letters of Recommendation are required.
- Technology: Acceptable computer and Internet competencies.
These are the minimal requirements. The Admissions Committee selects applicants with the strongest qualifications. Candidates who meet only minimal requirements in some areas but are exceptional in others may be accepted. The overall combination of strengths that the applicant brings to the program is assessed in the admissions process.
In exceptional cases, some candidates may be admitted to the program with insufficient background in the biblical or theological disciplines. If admitted, the student must complete the necessary work and demonstrate the competencies necessary for advanced scholarship prior to enrolling in his or her first PhD courses.
To apply for admission:
- Submit an application with a $75 non-refundable application fee ($15 for readmissions), a recent photograph, academic writing sample and evidence of second language competency (e.g., exam completion, transcript) to the PhD BTH Program Director.
- Distribute academic, ministerial and personal recommendation forms and request the completed documents be submitted to the PhD BTH Program Director within ten days.
- Take the GRE exam and have the results sent to the PhD BTH Program Director. If this exam has been previously taken, this score may be sent in lieu of retaking the exam.
- Request that official transcripts of all post-secondary institutions attended be sent to the PhD BTH Program Director.
A student may enter the program during any one of the three course sessions, which allows the student to begin courses as soon as they have been accepted. The following deadlines facilitate this schedule:
- To begin in February, all application files must be submitted by December 1.
- To begin in June, all application files must be submitted by April 1.
- To begin in October, all application files must be submitted by August 1.
Admission is highly selective. Applicants will be evaluated by the Bible and Theology Department. They will be notified in writing regarding the status of their acceptance into the PhD BTH program.
Academic Policies and Procedures
Participants will remain in good academic standing in the PhD BTH program as long as they maintain a 3.0 grade point average, meet all financial obligations to the seminary and conduct their personal lives with spiritual, moral, and professional integrity, maintaining fitness for ministry (see the AGTS Student Handbook). The administration reserves the right to dismiss any participant whose integrity in any of these areas is deemed unacceptable.
AGTS uses a 4-point grading scale.
Grade points per credit and definition for PhD BTH participants:
*Affects grade point average
Students are expected to complete all course work in a timely fashion as specified by the instructor in the course syllabus. A grade of “IP” (In Process) will be issued if the professor’s due date falls after the AGTS semester ending date. Due dates of doctoral modular courses are at the discretion of the professor but will be considered IP until the first day of the next module or set of modules. A grade of failure may be issued if the work is not submitted by the first day of the next module(s) unless the student has requested an extension. If the student requests additional time, an incomplete “I” grade may be given at the discretion of the instructor for a 90 day extension. In the event the instructor grants a grade of incomplete, he or she will have the option of lowering the final grade for the course one letter grade lower than it would have been had the work been submitted on time. A grade of failure may be issued if the work is not submitted before the expiration of the 90 day extension. [Exception: Doctoral participants in the Dissertation phase.] No student will be permitted to begin credit courses in a new semester if carrying more than two IP or I courses. Note: A $50 fee will be charged to the student’s account for every extension granted and a $30 fee applies to every grade change even if the instructor has approved an extension for completing the work.
Probation and Dismissal
A student making a “C” in one of the five core courses is placed on probation and should retake the course. A student will be dismissed upon making two “C’s.”
- Satisfactory completion of all PhD BTH program requirements. This includes completion of 60 credits of course work ( 20 from Core Courses, 8 from the Supervised Reading courses, 20 from Elective courses, and 12 from the Dissertation process).
- Maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0, including no more than one C.
- Be in good standing at the seminary (see Academic Status).
- Have passed the PhD BTH Comprehensive Examinations.
- Complete an acceptable and approved PhD BTH dissertation.
- Make an acceptable oral defense of the PhD BTH dissertation.
- Students are required to register for graduation as follows: Those who wish to graduate in the fall semester of the same year must submit a graduation application on the student portal by October 31. Those who wish to graduate in the spring or summer semester must submit their graduation application on the student portal by January 31 of the same year. Those who miss these deadlines will have to wait until the following October to file for graduation.
- Receive approval to graduate from the Bible and Theology Department, Academic Affairs Committee and Faculty.
- Attend the Commencement exercises. (Approval to be absent must be secured from the Academic Affairs Committee through the registrar by April 1.)
Participants will write a research dissertation that advances knowledge in their chosen field of study and enables the participant to be considered an original voice in the discipline.
An individual may transfer in a total of eight doctoral credits if they have an earned doctorate in a related field (e.g ., PhD), or an advanced degree beyond the MDiv such as the MPhil, STM, MTh or ThM. Such credits (as determined by the Bible and Theology Department) will apply to the elective courses and must meet the following criteria:
- All courses transferred must have been taken within the last five years.
- Transfer credits must be from appropriately accredited institutions.
- Student must have earned a passing grade of “B” or higher (3.0 on a 4.0 scale).
- Transfer credits must be relevant to the PhD BTH program.
To request transfer credit, official transcripts must be reviewed by the Bible and Theology Department and the Registrar’s Office before consideration for doctoral credit will be given. (Any exception to the standard policy must be recommended by the Academic Affairs Committee.)
Note: The transfer of credits does not waive or change the Program Fee.
Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Interpretation and Theology Courses Open to Unclassified Doctoral-Level Students
A limited number of non-degree-seeking, post-MA persons who are not pursuing the PhD BTH degree at AGTS may be allowed to take PhD BTH courses if they satisfy admission requirements for the PhD BTH program. These opportunities will be evaluated on a space-available, case-by-case basis. Permission from the instructor of each selected course is also required.
Graduates of AGTS doctoral programs are eligible for one free masters or doctoral-level audit (3-4 credits) per academic year, on a space-available basis.
Tuition for this program is $700 per credit hour ($2800 for a 4-credit course). The tuition charges cover the course, dissertation and graduation fees. The tuition charge does not cover textbooks, cost of travel, housing and meals, editing, directed research fees, continuation fees, extension fees, or tuition costs for courses taken at other institutions and transferred into the AGTS program.
PhD BTH participants are eligible for loan deferment. The program does qualify for VA benefits and private and Title IV student loans. There are limited grants and scholarships available. Contact the Evangel University Student Financial Services Office for more information.
- Readmission Financial Policy: if a participant withdraws from the program and later desires to return, his or her financial obligations will be as follows:
- The $50 readmission fee and the current tuition rate will apply.
- Unclassified Student Course Fee: the fee for doctoral students from outside the AGTS program taking our elective classes will be charged at 115% of the current tuition rate.
- Unclassified Student Audit Fee: the fee for doctoral students from outside the AGTS program auditing our classes will be charged at 25% of the current tuition rate.
- Program Continuation Fee: for the 6th year–$500; for the 7th year–$1,000; and for the 8th year–$1,500. A special petition to the Department and the Dean Is required for continuation beyond the eighth year.
Lodging, Meals, Transportation
It is up to the student to make his or her own travel and living arrangements while attending classes.
Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Interpretation and Theology Program Design
Core Courses ( 20 credits)
BNT 901 – Core 2 – New Testament Use of the Old Testament
An examination of quotations and allusions from the Old Testament by the New Testament authors. Engages in comparative analysis of Hebrew OT texts, LXX translations, and NT quotations, emphasizing Jewish hermeneutics and perspectives that influenced the NT era. Special attention will be given to the Christological paradigm of the NT authors as it shapes their understanding of the OT.
BOT 902 – Core 4 – Literary Methods
A detailed analysis of the major genres of Scripture and their various genre-specific literary conventions used in the communication of ideology (e.g., OT narrative, prophetical, wisdom, NT narrative, epistolary, and apocalyptic literature). Particular focus will be given to genre-specific exegesis (including an introduction to sub-genres, e.g., hymns of the NT, parables, prayers, speeches in Acts, and other rhetorical forms) and unpacking the meaning of texts according to their own “reading contracts.” Some attention will also be given to higher critical methods and their philosophical underpinnings.
BTH 903 – Core 1 – Hermeneutical Frameworks
An exploration of the influence of paradigms underlying exegetical, theological, and interpretive approaches to Scripture. Attention is given to the influence of diverse global Pentecostal contexts on interpretation. Includes discussion of the role of presuppositions and pre-understanding in biblical interpretation. Covers selected issues in philosophical hermeneutics.
BTH 905 – Core 3 – Biblical-Theological Models and Methods
A comparative analysis of differing approaches to biblical theology, particularly as those models influence perspectives on continuity, unity, and diversity in Scripture. The redemptive-historical model is examined in detail, and redemptive-historical methods are applied to selected biblical-theological motifs. Special attention is given to understanding the Bible as the grand narrative of redemption.
BTH 906 – Core 5 – Biblical Theology of the Holy Spirit
A detailed analysis of the redemptive-historical unfolding of motifs related to the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Explores the OT hope for the outpouring of the Spirit and the NT fulfillment of that hope in Christ and his church. Special attention is given to the development of a broader biblical theology with the Spirit as the organizing center.
Required Supervised Readings (8 credits)
BNT 930 Readings in New Testament Introduction and Theology
A readings course designed to cover in-depth the introductory issues and history of theology for the New Testament. Must be completed during the semester in which the student enrolls in the course. (Offered every semester.)
BOT 930 Readings in Old Testament Introduction and Theology
A readings course designed to cover in-depth the introductory issues and history of theology for the Old Testament. Must be completed during the semester in which the student enrolls in the course. (Offered every semester.)
RES 531 Theological Research and Writing
This course is a non-credit course that must be taken within the first year. It may be waived if it has been completed elsewhere.
Elective Courses (20 credits)
BNT 941 Studies in the Synoptic Gospels and Acts
Exegetical study of selected Gospels and salient biblical-theological motifs.
BNT 942 Studies in the General Epistles
Exegetical study of selected books and salient biblical-theological motifs from the general epistles.
BNT 943 Studies in the Writings of John
Exegetical study of selected books and salient biblical-theological motifs in the Johannine corpus.
BNT 945 Studies in the Writings of Paul
Exegetical study of selected epistles and salient biblical-theological motifs in the Pauline corpus.
BNT 949 Life and Writings of Paul (Study Tour)
Exegetical studies in the epistles of Paul and his major themes while re-tracing the travels of Paul though western Turkey, Greece, and Rome. The course will thus immerse the student in the Greco-Roman culture in which the Apostle lived as well as in his writings. The epistle under consideration will vary at the discretion of the instructor. This course requires travel expenses in addition to program tuition.
BOT/BNT 925 Biblical History and Archaeology (offered also with Study Tour option)
An exploration of Old and/or New Testament history and archeology. Special focus is given to the culture and literature of the ancient near east. This course requires travel expenses in addition to program tuition when the student selects the study tour option.
BOT 941 Studies in the Prophetic Writings
Exegetical study of selected books from the Prophets and salient biblical-theological motifs.
BOT 942 Studies in the Psalms and Wisdom Literature
Exegetical study of selected portions of the Psalms or Wisdom Literature corpus, and salient biblical-theological motifs.
BOT 943 Studies in the Pentateuch and Historical Books
Exegetical study of selected books, narratives, and salient biblical-theological motifs.
BTH 921 Post-Biblical Jewish Hermeneutics and Writings
Detailed examination of intertestamental primary sources necessary for specialized understanding of the rabbinic hermeneutical framework, methods of exegesis, and theological traditions.
BTH 922 Special Topics in Biblical Theology
This course will offer study in areas of special interest in the discipline of biblical theology. Course content is determined by the instructor.
BTH 931 Global Hermeneutical Models
Investigates the hermeneutical paradigms, and their implications for biblical exegesis and theology, of various cultures and traditions in the majority world. Particular focus is given to the contextual theology that results from these models. The particular model and culture may vary at the discretion of the instructor.
BTH 941 Epistemology and Christianity
This course will focus on various problems of epistemology as they relate to the Christian faith and biblical hermeneutics. It will seek to demonstrate the necessity of a consistent Christian epistemology, developing principles necessary if one wants an adequate account of knowledge. Major individuals covered include Plantinga, Polanyi, and Van Til. Topics covered include foundationalism, coherentism, and the justification of knowledge. Some attention will also be given to presuppositional apologetics as part of a fully orbed epistemology.
BTH 942 Biblical Worldview in the Arts and Sciences
This course investigates the integration of biblical teaching with various disciplines in the arts and sciences. Emphasis is given to how various worldviews permeate theory and practice across disciplines.
BTH 943 History of Pentecostal Theology
Considers significant contributors and contributions to the development of Pentecostal doctrine from diverse global contexts. The parameters and focus of major historical debates within the Pentecostal theological tradition will be discussed.
BTH 945 Field Experience
Students will engage in an intensive cross-cultural ministry experience that involves teaching graduate or undergraduate students preparing for ministry researching and writing on the cultural context in which this experience takes place, and serving in a context that is a cultural and geographical challenge--not simply a diverse audience. Field Experiences must be approved by the Bible and Theology Department. This course requires travel expenses in addition to program tuition.
THE 941 History of Biblical Exegesis and Theology I
This course covers the exegesis, hermeneutical methodologies, and the understanding of the Bible from the period of the early church to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Selected church fathers, theological movements, and the church councils will be considered.
THE 942 History of Biblical Exegesis and Theology II
This course covers the exegesis, hermeneutical methodologies, and the understanding of the Bible from the fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the present. Selected influential exegetes and theologians, and theological movements will be considered.
THE 943 Special Topics in Theology
This course will offer study in areas of special interest in the disciplines of historical and systematic theology. Course content is determined by the instructor.
Dissertation Research and Writing (12 credits)
BTH 999 Biblical Interpretation and Theology Dissertation
Students will prepare a complete Dissertation Proposal, and, once this is approved, they will commence further research and writing. This will be an original work that makes a significant contribution to the academic field.
Field Research Course (0 credit)
BTH 000 – Doctoral Field Research
This course facilitates and contributes to research in the student’s specific context that will culminate in a dissertation that advances knowledge in the field of study and enables the participant to integrate and apply his or her learning in a cross-cultural context.
The student shall, after the completion of the 48 credits of seminars, take the Comprehensive Exams. The exams will be graded Pass or Fail. If a student fails he /she may petition the faculty to retake the exam (s). A second failure results in termination from the PhD program. After the successful completion of the Comprehensive Exams the student will prepare and submit the Dissertation Proposal and, upon approval of the proposal, will begin work on the dissertation. For more information about the Comprehensive Exams, see the AGTS BTH Participant Handbook, available from the Program Coordinator’s office.
After all the coursework is completed, the Comprehensive Exams passed, and any co-requisite expectations satisfied, students will submit a Dissertation Proposal. They will work closely with the Adviser/Dissertation Committee chair to make the work a clear, distinct, substantive and unique work. Proposals will be evaluated and the following assessments offered:
- Accepted, no revisions
- Accepted with minor revisions
- In Process, significant changes needed
- Rejected (This will be rare, especially as the student works with the Adviser; however, there will be one opportunity for a resubmission within six months.)
For more information about the Dissertation Proposal, see the AGTS BTH Participant Handbook available from the Program Coordinator’s office.
A research dissertation advances knowledge in the field of study and enables the participant to integrate and apply his or her learning in global academic and ministry contexts.
Dissertation Submission: The student will work closely with his or her Adviser/Dissertation Committee chair on the writing of the dissertation submission and normally sequentially submit individual chapters. The Adviser/Dissertation Committee chair will give timely critique and feedback and the student is expected to make the appropriate changes and edits. When the dissertation is completed, the student will submit the final draft for review by his or her entire Dissertation Committee, in preparation for the Oral Defense. When the dissertation has been successfully defended and all other graduation details completed, the degree will be awarded.
For more information about the dissertation, dissertation committee, and the process of submission and approval, see the AGTS BTH Participant Handbook, available from the Program Coordinator’s office.
Saturday, October 22, 2016 9:21 PM