6.11.4 Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation

Upon initial matriculation, students entering the Ph.D. program in Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation are required to sustain examinations upon initial registration demonstrating competence in Biblical Hebrew and New Testament Greek.

Failure to demonstrate competence on either of these examinations will result in remedial language study and evaluation, supervised by the examiner, to be completed during the first semester of enrollment. These language assignments must be completed in the semester in which they are assigned. Should the student not fulfill the requirement, the faculty maintains the right to place the student on academic probation, pending completion of the language requirement.

Students in the field of Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation must also demonstrate competence in Biblical Aramaic, either by passing an examination or by passing OT 761 with a grade of B- or better.

6.11.4.a Course Work

A total of fifteen graduate-level courses is required (in addition to PT 421P). This includes the following:

  1. The course PT 421P Theological Bibliography and Research Methodology. This course is required (on a pass/fail non-credit basis) of all students during the first year after initial matriculation.

  2. Four seminars: NT 941 New Testament Use of the Old Testament; NT 981 History of Interpretation; NT 993 Hermeneutical Foundations; and OT 903 Critical Methodologies.
    NT 941 and NT 981 are offered in the fall semester in alternating years. NT 993 and OT 903 are offered in the spring semester in alternating years. A full-time student should plan to take each of these four courses the first time it is offered during the student’s time of residence.

  3. Three directed reading courses: OT 981 Readings in Old Testament Introduction and Theology, NT 921 Readings in New Testament Introduction and Theology, and NT 791 Readings in the Literature of Post-Biblical Judaism (Part 1: Early Judaism). Either OT 981 or NT 921 must be completed by the end of the second semester of full-time residence. A second reading course, either OT 981 or NT 921, must be completed by the end of the third semester of full-time residence. The third reading course, NT 791, may be taken at any time during a student’s time of residence.

  4. Eight elective courses: May require approval by the student’s academic advisor. These electives must be NT or OT courses or courses in other concentrations (AP, CH and ST) that are on the approved list to count as an NT or OT course (see section 7.1.2 and section 7.2.2 for approved list/s). Only with written permission of the advisor may a student take a course in another concentration that is not on the approved list. With the written permission of the advisor, a student already matriculated at Westminster may take courses at other graduate institutions for elective credit, including courses at Jerusalem University College. Ordinarily students will not be granted transfer credit for courses completed at other institutions prior to enrollment. Study at Westminster more than five years prior to enrollment will also not be counted for credit. See section 5.2.3.d for the Seminary’s transfer of credit policy. A maximum of four elective courses may be independent studies.

The student is required to maintain a general academic average of 3.00 during the program of residency study, and, in addition, a 3.00 average in the four area seminars. If an average of 3.00 is not maintained, the student will be withdrawn from the Seminary.

6.11.4.b Comprehensive Examinations

The written comprehensive examinations in Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation will be administered three times a year: the last full week in September, February, and April. Students will be eligible to take their comprehensive examinations only after completing all coursework, languages, and preliminary exams. The Coordinator of the Field Committee should be notified in writing one month in advance of the student’s intention to take the comprehensive examinations (neither earlier nor later). There may be no more than one day between the two written examinations. The first written examination covers the area seminars; the second written examination covers the student’s area of concentration in the canon. Each written examination will be five hours long.

All students in the Ph.D. Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation program will be tested on both the written and oral comprehensive examinations and on the original language of that corpus of material which they have declared as their concentration. Students will be expected to translate and parse passages selected at random. It is strongly suggested that students decide early in their course work what their concentration will be and begin serious work on mastering that corpus in the original language.

An oral examination of approximately two hours normally will be given two weeks after the written examinations.