I’m struck by the richness of St Luke’s account of the first Easter. I always find it fascinating how the Gospel writers juxtapose the elements of their accounts, especially Luke: how one episode sheds light on the next once I ignore the chapter breaks. And the passion narratives are especially rich for their compilation of different people’s perspectives. There’s something here that reminds me of academic diversity – as I shall explain anon.
The following is my summary of a sermon preached by Tom Wright in the chapel of St John’s College, Cambridge some years ago. As an undergraduate, I was gripped and inspired by this vision for my calling as a student. The main text was Revelation 5 , and there were also illuminating references to Job 29 and Psalm 8, the other texts for that particular evensong. The image above is my diagram illustrating his sermon.
It’s hard to predict how I will feel at the end of the Christmas break. Will I be refreshed and eager to get back to work? Or will the thought fill me with dread? Or both?
It can be especially difficult when your day-to-day work is somewhat mind numbing. Every PhD has these phases. (If yours doesn’t, I want to know your secret!) How can you go from pondering the birth of Jesus Christ one week, to spend the next week wrestling with your data, poring over arcane ancient texts, fighting with test tubes, dredging through reams of articles, or debugging your spaghetti-like code?
Recently I took time out of a holiday to finish preparing a conference paper. At the same time I could see a colleague becoming more stressed with the pressure of their work load, and read an article by the Vice Chancellor of a large British university, in which he admitted that university staff could not be expected to absorb any more work.
At one of our postgrads’ discussions, a friend doing a PhD in literature was sharing how difficult it is to attribute special authority to the Bible in the English faculty, where a first principal is that all texts are treated equally. Must we just make a special exception for this book, and take the ridicule on the (other) cheek?
For many of us, Easter has strong associations with studying. The Easter holiday is the one you won’t really get if you’re coming up to big exams, because Easter term is exam term. Easter also comes when preparations for end-of-year performances and summer sporting events step up a gear. In some of the most intense years of our lives, Easter can seem to be brushed aside by ambition.