Friday, August 20, 2010

What's the point of studying?

It's been a busy week. I've written the chapter on the physical location of the Pauline communities for my MA - an examination of what archaeology, especially in Pompeii, Rome and Corinth, tells us about where people lived and what kind of accommodation best fits the evidence we have from the NT. I'm fairly pleased with the 12,500 I've written.

I've also been reading the second version of the page proofs for my forthcoming Lion book. I am really pleased with the way it looks and reads. The cover is great and the back features an endorsement from friend and rising New Testament scholar Peter Oakes about which I am hugely chuffed!

It's also been Holiday at Home at church this week, our annual outreach to senior citizens. It's been going really well as far as I can see - I've been in to do a couple of midday thoughts and will be taking part in the musical finale this afternoon.

Last night we were celebrating with our next door neighbours. Their daughter got her A Level results yesterday and did very well. She was having a party and we went in to help serve food and keep order. I have to say that it was great to be with 50 or so good mannered and pleasant young people. Many of them are getting ready to go off to university, others are planning to take a year out to travel and boost their CVs.

It strikes me that there's huge pressure on these young people to perform - as there has been throughout their school career. Education seems to be more and more about landing a high paid job. Only once in yesterday's extensive and over-heated coverage of the story on radio and TV, did I hear that universities were about training people think analytically. And not once did I hear anyone say that knowledge was good in itself.

My fear is that if just see a degree as a ticket to a higher paid job, there'll be a lot of disappointed young people graduating over the next few years. Isn't tertiary level education about something more than a meal ticket?

My MA is not going to raise my salary; land me a dream job; that's not why I'm doing it. I'm doing it because I have burning questions about the shape of the New Testament communities that I want to answer for myself and maybe for others through what I read and write. I want to add - albeit in a small way - to the pool of knowledge about the communities that gathered around the worship of Jesus in the cities at the eastern end of the Roman empire in the middle years of the first century.

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