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Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Interpretation and Theology

“Empowering 21st Century Pentecostal Scholars for Global Academic and Ministry Leadership”

The Ph.D. in Biblical Interpretation and Theology (Ph.D. BTH) is an advanced, challenging program integrating New and Old Testament exegesis with the disciplines of both biblical and systematic theology.

Original research and scholarship is required in one of these three specializations: New Testament Interpretation and Biblical Theology, Old Testament Interpretation and Biblical Theology, or Biblical Exegesis and Systematic Theology.

The Ph.D. in Biblical Interpretation and Theology is intended for biblically and theologically informed students to prepare for scholarly theological leadership in the church. The program’s special emphasis on the integration of biblical interpretation and theology reflects the central role that theological scholarship plays in the life of the church. The development of well-grounded theologians in today’s church is all the more pivotal as the church interacts with a vastly changing global culture. While the program includes examination of hermeneutics and biblical 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.

Curricular Design

Following the sequence of five core classes  and two reading courses, the Ph.D. BTH offers expert instruction and tutorial dialogue in the elective courses .

The Ph.D. BTH consists of 60 credits earned in the following categories of study:

  • 48 credits of coursework, divided into three major parts:
    • 20 credits of Core Courses ( five courses at 4 credits each - see below for description).
    • 8 credits for two Supervised Reading courses
    • 20 credits of elective courses in the particular discipline
  • 12 credits for the Dissertation process  (includes the Proposal through the Oral Defense)

The Core classes and electives are offered as one-week intensives in Springfield, MO, allowing professionals to continue their current vocational work while still being a full-time Ph.D. student.

Program Schedule

The Ph.D. BTH program is structured on a four and a half year, full-time model, consisting of at least two and a half years of course work 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. 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 5.5 years.

Courses are offered the last full week of February, the first two full weeks of June, and the last full week of October. All modular courses consist of three components:

  • An on-site residential seminar presented by the professor of record for the subject that allows the student to engage in academic dialogue with the professor during class hours and presents the student with the opportunity to utilize the library research facilities after class hours.
  • Pre-residential seminar assignments that differ from course to course but generally include pre-reading assignments, processing audio-visual or online resources, and/or engaging the student in online dialogues with his/ her colleagues.
  • Post-residential seminar assignments that differ from course to course but that generally include the submission of a major research project and could also include online dialogue with colleagues on the assignment.

Admission Requirements

  1. Academic: Bachelor's degree or the equivalent from an accredited college or university. An accredited M.Div. or M.Th ./Th.M ., M.Phil. 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.
  2. The GRE (Graduate Record Exam) is required.
  3. English: For applicants whose primary language is other than English, a TOEFL score of 585 or equivalent.
  4. Writing: Submission and approval of a writing sample that demonstrates graduate-level research and writing skills.
  5. Vocational Essay: A 2000-word Vocational Essay 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 is required.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 Ph.D. Bible 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.
  8. Recommendations: Three completed Letters of Recommendation are required.
  9. 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.

Co-requisites

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 Ph.D. courses.

Application Procedure

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).
  • Request that official transcripts of all post-secondary institutions attended be sent to the Bible and Theology Department at AGTS.
  • Distribute academic, ministerial and personal recommendation forms and request the completed documents be returned within ten days to the AGTS Enrollment Office.
  • Take the GRE exam and have the results sent to AGTS. If this exam has been previously taken, this score may be sent in lieu of retaking the exam.

Application Deadline

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 Ph.D. BTH program.

Academic Policies and Procedures

Academic Status

Participants will remain in good academic standing in the Ph.D. 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.

Grading

AGTS uses a 4-point grading scale.
Grade points per credit and definition for Ph.D. BTH participants:

A or A+ Superior 4.0
A-   3.7
B+   3.3
B Satisfactory 3.0
B-   2.7
C+   2.3
C Poor 2.0
C-   1.7
F Failure 0.0*
AU Audit 0.0
IP In Process 0.0
I Incomplete 0.0*
N No Credit 0.0
S Satisfactory 0.0
U Unsatisfactory 0.0
WP Withdrawn Passing 0.0
WF Withdrawn Failing 0.0*

 

*Affects grade point average

Incomplete Grades

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.”

Graduation Requirements

  1. Satisfactory completion of all Ph.D. 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).
  2. Maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0, including no more than one C.
  3. Be in good standing at the seminary (see Academic Status).
  4. Have passed the Ph.D. BTH Comprehensive Examinations.
  5. Complete an acceptable and approved Ph.D. BTH dissertation.
  6. Make an acceptable oral defense of the Ph.D. BTH dissertation.
  7. 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. 
  8. Receive approval to graduate from the Bible and Theology Department, Academic Affairs Committee and Faculty.
  9. Attend the Commencement exercises. (Approval to be absent must be secured from the Academic Affairs Committee through the registrar by April 1.)

Research Dissertation

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.

Program Duration

The Ph.D. BTH program is structured on a four and a half year, full-time model, consisting of at least two and a half years of course work 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 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 5.5 years.

Transfer Credits

An individual may transfer in a total of eight doctoral credits if they have an earned doctorate in a related field (e.g ., Ph.D.), or an advanced degree beyond the M.Div. such as the M.Phil., STM, M.Th. or Th.M. Such credits (as determined by the Bible and Theology Department) will apply to the elective courses and must meet the following criteria:

  1. All courses transferred must have been taken within the last five years.
  2. Transfer credits must be from appropriately accredited institutions.
  3. Student must have earned a passing grade of “B” or higher (3.0 on a 4.0 scale).
  4. Transfer credits must be relevant to the Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. BTH degree at AGTS may be allowed to take Ph.D. BTH courses if they satisfy admission requirements for the Ph.D. 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.

Audit Policy

Graduates of the Ph.D. BTH program have the option of auditing one course per year on a space-available basis. A discounted fee is charged for the audit.

Financial Information

Program Fee

There is one Program Fee of $38,000* to be paid in equal installments over four years. (Some scholarships will be available to qualified students.) The program fee covers tuition for 60 credit hours, dissertation fees and graduation fees. This fee does not cover the application fee, textbooks, costs of travel, housing and meals incurred while on campus , editing, directed research fees, continuation fees, extension fees or tuition for courses taken at other institutions.

The program fee is payable in three installments per year. (AGTS accepts cash, checks, Visa, MasterCard and Discover as payment.) The first installment is due by the beginning of the first class. All subsequent installments are due on the first day of the months of regularly scheduled courses ( February, June and October). The fees are non-refundable. Other payment plans may be negotiated with the Business Office.

*Applicable for the 2014–2015 academic year and subject to change each fall thereafter for new participants.

Promissory Note

Participants are required to sign a promissory note at their initial registration indicating their commitment to pay the Program Fee in a timely fashion and in its entirety. This is standard procedure required of all AGTS participants. The promissory note will outline the installment due dates for the participant. The installments outlined are to be paid consecutively and are still due at the assigned date, even if the participant for any reason skips a class session.

Financial Aid

Ph.D. BTH participants are eligible for loan deferment. The program does qualify for VA benefits and private student loans. There are limited grants and scholarships available. Contact the Financial Aid Office for more information.

Miscellaneous Fees

  1. 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 program fee current at the time of readmission will apply and the student will sign a new promissory note.
    • All payments made under the previous promissory note would be applied toward the current program fee. Participants would be required to pay the difference between the current program fee and what he or she actually paid under the previous program fee.
  2. 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 single fee payment.
  3. 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 single fee payment.
  4. Graduate Audit Fee: the fee for graduates of the AGTS Ph.D. BTH program auditing courses will be charged at $200 per class.
  5. Program Continuation Fee: if a participant extends the program into a sixth, seventh or eighth year, a $500 continuation fee per year will be charged. 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. Informational resources on housing, hotels and reasonable food costs will be available from the Bible and Theology Department.

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.

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.

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 Archaeology and History of the Old Testament (Study tour)
An exploration of Old and New Testament history and archeology experienced on site in Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. Special focus is given to the culture and literature of the ancient new east. This course requires travel expenses in addition to program tuition.

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.

Comprehensive Exams

Comprehensive exams will cover the material from the core courses. The student shall, after the completion of the thirty-two credits of seminars, register for the Comprehensive Exams. The exams will be graded Pass with Honors, Pass, Pass with stipulations, and Fail. If a student fails he /she may petition the faculty to retake the exam (s). A second failure results  in termination from the Ph.D. 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.

Dissertation Proposal

After all the coursework is completed, students will submit a Dissertation Proposal. They will work closely with the Adviser 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.)

Dissertation

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 on the writing of the dissertation submission and normally sequentially submit individual chapters. The adviser 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 academic team, in preparation for the Oral Defense. When the dissertation has been successfully defended and all other graduation details completed, the degree will be awarded.

Updated: Thursday, September 4, 2014 4:21 PM

 

 
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