Help with PhD Dissertation Pre-topic

From: Joseph A. Weaks (
Date: Tue May 04 1999 - 01:59:11 EDT

Friends and Colleagues,
I will possibly have opportunity to study as visiting student in a PhD
program this fall with hopes of application in the Spring. As is customary
with an application process, some pre-thought into dissertation topic is
suggested. I post here my pre-topic outline and ask for your suggestions
Of most help would be suggestions for 1. blatant areas I've neglected, 2.
Examples of texts that would illustrate points within the outline, and 3.
suggested resources that would specifically inform the topic. I'll refrain
from further disclaimers that this brief, first draft, unresearched, too
broad in present form, etc.
Thank you for your assistance, and please respond to me privately, unless
of course you wish to start a discussion on a topic with direct relevance
to the Greek content of my possible dissertation subject.

Grace and peace,
Joe Weaks

0.0 Foreword
This outline is simply an organized arrangement of ideas in and around my
dissertation topic interests. It is wholly possible that one subset will
become the thesis of the project. For instance, a complete dissertation
could be written on a specific passage and evidence for its function in
early worship. And as a result, many of the below sections will
necessarily be abandoned. The much anticipated research and discovery
process will aid in further development.

1.0 Function of New Testament Texts in Early Worship
1.1 Not content, not form, but function.
Biblical exegesis (historical, text critical, redaction, literary) focuses
heavily on the content of a passage or the form of a passage. The function
of a passage, though quickly neglected, can have implications for
scripture's intended use for the contemporary church.

1.2 Evidence of function in specific pericopes in the New Testament

1.3 Identify New Testament scripture's function in early Christian worship
I do not have a full thesis statement. I want to explore the function of
New Testament pericopes in the context of first and second century
Christian worship. Since form is an indicator of function, this approach
would be properly referred to as literary. I wish to explore what the
activity of worship was to the early church in light of how scripture was
used in the context of corporate worship.

2.0 Early Worship
2.1 Terminology
2.1.1 latreuw and its root
2.1.2 sebomai and its root
2.1.3 proskunew and other positional terms
2.1.4 Semantic domain 53 in Louw & Nida's Greek-English Lexicon of the New
Testament Based on Semantic Domains
By exploring the various terms in Louw & Nida, it can be found that the
idea of worship to the early church included specific activities, postures,
and remembrances.

2.2 Activities of worship in the early church
The inquiry here is to discover the order and content of a worship service.
(What would their bulletin look like?)

2.1.1 New Testament evidence
2.1.2 Patristic evidence Geographic differences Early changes and trends over time
2.1.3 Evidence in other Hellenistic material
Is there a notion of private and corporate worship.

3.0 The Function of New Testament Scripture in Early Worship
3.1 Old Testament models
3.1.1 Did the reading of the scrolls become the reading of the letters.
3.1.2 How was the Psalter incorporated into first century Christian worship?

3.2 Worship in the New Testament
3.2.1 Worship in the New Testament Texts
Exhaustive survey of worship found in the New Testament Implications

3.2.2 Hermeneutical warning
There is danger in taking the way scripture uses scripture (in worship) as
endorsement. For instance, Paul prooftexts in the NT. Does that validate

3.2 Creeds as a case study
List of creedal formulas in the New Testament

3.3 Textual variants and redactional changes as a case study
3.3.1 Examples
Examples of text variants or redactional changes that could have been
specifically intended for worship.

3.3.2 Is the priestly source in Hebrew scripture often a model for this?
For example, is the creation story of Genesis 1 recorded to mark the
beginning with liturgical splendor?

3.4 The Apocalypse as a case study
Explore how Revelation is constructed specifically for use in worship

4.0 Conclusions
4.1 Scripture in worship today
4.2 Implications for Restorationism in a post-modern dialogue
4.3 Word to the Church on use of scripture

Joseph A. Weaks
Minister of the Word
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Spearman, TX
"Let unity be our polar star." -GMP KT

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