The subject of the doctoral thesis I am currently writing falls broadly within the field of New Testament textual criticism.
More specifically, I have identified a family of witnesses to the Pauline corpus: GA0150, GA2110, and GA1506 are non-Byzantine witnesses which also exhibit the same alternating commentary. The commentary and biblical text as a complete edition are attributed to John of Damascus. If this attribution proves true (and I have evidence to suggest it is), then we need not comb through the citations of the Damascene to see what text was available to him.
I have performed or am currently working on a variety of tasks for this thesis:
Create complete transcriptions of the three family manuscripts along with two non-family witnesses that also contain a version of John of Damascus's commentary: GA018 and GA0151.
GA1506 has many places that are difficult to read. I developed a method for digitally reconstructing barely legible lines of text. My explanation and demonstration of this can be found here and in my conference talks page. My transcription of 1506 revealed several instances in the NA28 and UBS5 apparatuses in which it was incorrectly cited.
The method for creating a digital transcription has been a significant are of my early research. I have experimented with most or all the standard tools. Ultimately, I developed my own desktop application for transcribing and encoding it in a useful format. For more on this, please see the digital humanities page.
Compare the transcriptions against as many other witnesses as is reasonably possible.
I presented my preliminary findings at the 2020 annual SBL meeting. When compared against other witnesses such as 01, 02, 03, 04, 06, 010, 012, 33, 1505, 1739, etc., the family members (0150, 1506, 2110) are always each other's nearest neighbors when sorted according to the percentage agreement.
The process of collation is labor intensive, but the use of several powerful computer tools helps to avoid common human counting errors. For more on this, please see the digital humanities page.
Comparing the family witnesses against many other witnesses helps to demonstrate their close relationship, but it also reveals their genealogical relationship to each other. GA0150 and GA2110 have received the same paleographical date: 9th century. Based on my study so far, I suspect that 0150 has the text that most resembles the edition that John of Damascus published.
Analyze the text and paratextual features.
The similarity between the family members extends to marginal notes and hypotheses.
The kind of text preserved in the family is not Byzantine, but more work is needed to better describe how the text fits within the overall transmission of Paul's letters.
Explore evidence for the suggestion that 0150 and 2110 may be exemplar and copy. The evidence for this is good, but without a colophon or other note that makes this explicit, it is very difficult to prove.
Analyze the commentary.
For the purpose of collation, a selection of commentary sections will be used to test whether the commentary shows the same genealogical relationships as the biblical text exemplifies.
For an indirectly related project, I am reading the commentary text for its value to Damascene studies and 8th century patristics studies.
Other Areas of Research in NT Studies
Paul's view of "death." Oscar Cullmann has demonstrated that Paul's view of death and the separation of body and soul is directly opposed to the kind of anti-body Greek thought exemplified in Plato and his followers. Cullmann rightly draws attention to resurrection as the ideal state (embodied). I would like to take this further. I suspect that for Paul, "death" is not many different things as many modern interpreters argue. The common notion of "spiritual death" as a category of death is, I think, misses the point that it is rather a point on a trajectory. Being spiritually dead places one on a trajectory that results in death (cessation of life). Changing trajectories from one that leads to death, to one that leads to unending life, can be reasonably described as moving from death to life.
To what degree was Jesus's teaching (particularly the Sermon) taken to be normative for Christian disciples in the first 100-150 years of Christianity? The earliest 'orthodox' writings suggest that Jesus's teaching, even the non-violent language, was taken as normative.
Greek language studies. I once entertained the thought of proposing a Greek linguistics PhD topic. I still enjoy reading the new literature on Greek grammar and linguistics, especially those who are incorporating classical Greek and those who are zooming out and looking and discourse features.
For something broader than NT studies, I am also in the early stages of research into the connection between violence enacted by a human agent and the presence of God in both the Hebrew Bible and NT.