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Austin Surls, Ph.D. 2015

 

Recipient of the Bourne Fellowship

Associate Professor of Biblical Studies (starting spring, 2017)
Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary, Amman, Jordan

My dissertation, entitled "Making Sense of the Divine Name in the Book of Exodus: From Etymology to Literary Onomastics," was written under the patient supervision of Dr. Daniel Block. In this project, I investigated how God revealed his character (as tied to his proper name YHWH) in the book of Exodus. Based on a close reading of the central "name texts" in the book of Exodus (i.e., 3:13-15; 6:2-8; 33:12-23; and 34:5-8), I concluded that these texts are a part of a coherent and progressive revelation of God's character. Thus, YHWH first promised "I will be whoever I will be" in Exodus 3:14, he then implied that Moses' generation would come to know him as YHWH in a new way in Exodus 6:2-8, and Moses' intercession after Israel's blatant idolatry (Exodus 33:12-23) led YHWH to proclaim the meaning of the name "YHWH" as the climax of his onomastic revelation (Exodus 34:5-8).

I am so grateful that I could write a synthetic, theological dissertation at Wheaton College. The reasons I chose Wheaton in the first place continue to be the reasons I love and recommend the school to other Christian scholars: Wheaton values doctoral-level research, holds to central Christian doctrines, and offers a "mid-Atlantic" model through which the students graduate between 3-6 years. My supervisor Dr. Daniel Block is, in my opinion, the quintessence of a scholar-pastor: he gently shepherded me through the rigors of class work, proposals, external courses, and many, many drafts of my chapters. He welcomed me into his life and spoke kindly to my situation. He models the grace that he teaches every day in the classroom! Finally, it was a treat to interact almost daily with an excellent and like-minded group of fellow doctoral students. They sharpened me as iron sharpens iron.