05 February, 2007

Reformed Theological Research

As most of you know, I am a book junkie as well as a lover of Reformed research. I am taking Reformed Theological Research this semester at Puritan and I think that it is going to be a favorite class of mine. We have to take this course as a prerequisite to beginning our thesis.

The course is based on a Westminster Seminary course that that teaches Ph.D. students the proper methods of theological research as well as gives all of the great 'hiding places' in academia.

Dr. Beeke said that this course was of great benefit for him in that it taught him the correct way to perform scholarly research.

So far we have had book talk every class. Of course, I love it. We have discussed some of the greatest 'hiding places' to find information. Dr. Beeke is helping us to build and to organize our library as well. He says that one of the greatest tragedies of preachers is that they do not know what they have in their own libraries. One of our assignments is to have our entire library cataloged and organized under one of his approved methods.

We also have some really great assignments. We are making bibliographies and writing small scholarly papers. We have to write a 5 page biography on any Puritan and have an attached bibliography of everything on that Puritan (from books to periodicals to journal entries). We also have to make a complete bibliography on the topic for our thesis. This assignment is a 20-30 page bibliography. We also have some 'problem sets' that we have to do. Dr. Beeke gives us a series of obscure theologians and theological topics and we have to find them in any number of places. The tricky part of this assignment is that there is information that we can only find at Calvin's Heckman Library and some information that can only be found at the Puritan Resource Room at our seminary. It is a definite treasure hunt.

We will also have some guest lectures by great researchers like Richard Muller from Calvin Seminary.

I am very excited about this class. I would recommend anyone who is serious about Reformed research to purchase the mp3s from the seminary. I am sure that this will help to make better pastors as well as scholars.

Here is the book list for the course:
  • Reference Works for Theological Research, Kepple and Muether
  • Reader's Guide to Reformed Literature, Beeke
  • Church History: Introduction to Research and Reference, Muller and Bradley
  • Manual For Writers, Turabian
  • Seven Laws of Teaching, Gregory
  • Elements of Style, Struck and White
  • Handbook for Scholars, van Luenen


Droll Flood said...

"One of our assignments is to have our entire library cataloged and organized under one of his approved methods."

-So was this the ground for the push of "Library Thing" or was it a little artistic license on a specific idea?

-Not only savory historical and theological morsels but also the thrill of the hunt. Knowing how to find out information is as valuable as the information for which you are looking. Of course that would mean that knowledge on how to find stuff would be classified as (suprise, suprise) information. Having a mine is one thing, but knowing how to mine and having the equipment to do so makes that mine quite useful.

-What's the setback ($$$)for the 16th part of a shelf of books that you need for the course and Mp3's?

Droll Flood said...

"(Remember Wiki is only a starting point, make sure not to use it for serious research since any person can have access to writing on it.)"

-Regarding the above mentioned quote from you, Nate: This post on theological research quite nicely dovetails into the subject, though you were talking about the Blue Banner, etc. at the time. Maybe this would be a nice post for you to write, that is, concerning credibility and who should write what?

“He says that one of the greatest tragedies of preachers is that they do not know what they have in their own libraries.”
-Books are regarded as furniture, not something through which we work or know or (regarding this post) use as a reference. P.G. Wodehouse, who had a voracious reading appetite, while burning in hell casts a scornful eye on those who don’t read the books they have on their shelves. Mortimer Adler has a few post-mortem askance looks to cast too, especially to those who don’t understand the books they have. Well Wodehouse and Adler really can’t do anything about it now can they?

Nate said...

-I was not aware of this class as I was pushing librarything. I am glad that I began to catalog before the class began though!
-Learning how to research in the Grand Rapids libraries is very beneficial. Many Ph.D.s could be earned from what we have in this town (and they are, hence the Meeter Center).
-The books will set you back about $100 and the mp3s could be purchased for about $50. CDs would be a bit more. You could borrow the books from the library though and take down the information needed!
-The books that are the most valuable are the Kepple book and the Muller book. They are gold mines of information.
-Concerning wiki: We talk a lot about scholastic credibility. There are some people that you just do not quote in a thesis or dissertation. Beeke said that he was repromanded for quoting Pink in his Ph.D.. Despite Pink being a great writer, I guess that he does not carry any scholarly weight (although he is worth reading). I guess that anyone who knows how to footnote can reasearch and write- how many people will read it and benefit from it is another story!
-I must admit that some of my books do become furniture as well. But in God's good timing, I hope to use them all to his glory!

shawn said...

I've got 10th commandment issues... sounds like a great class.

I have Muller's book. I'm going to buy the Mp3s.

What else are you taking this semester?

Nate said...

I also have:
-Ancient Church History
-Reformation Church History
-Issues in Counselling
-Minister and His Family
-Christ in the OT

Droll Flood said...

"Concerning wiki: We talk a lot about scholastic credibility. There are some people that you just do not quote in a thesis or dissertation."

-Who ought we to then quote? Someone speaking in the name of Hillel or Shimei? I severely have my reservations about this type of reasoning and have to think about it for a while. I would affirm that one generally doesn't go to a mason to learn about dentistry. There maybe some overlap between the two trades, however the method of tooth extraction a mason may administer (four knuckles sharply applied to the general stomatic region) will differ slightly from the dentist's method.

shawn said...

You're taking 8 classes?!?

Daniel Ritchie said...

Is Dr. Beeke's reference book worth ordering from the states? You can't get it on this side of the pond.

Nate said...

-Shawn, the classes are broken into different times. It is not as amazing as it seems to be.

-Daniel, the book is REALLY worthwhile! It is "free" in the back of Beeke, Fergeson's Reformed Confessions Harmonized.