Monday, July 11, 2011

The first African Woman to Defend PhD in NT Exegesis at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven!

It was a bright Tuesday afternoon, July 5, 2011. I sensed an atmosphere of joy and excitement as I entered the Promotion Hall. People from all walks of life waited patiently. Conversation was done in low tones as if it was a retreat session. What a memorable event! Exchange of greetings and smiles among people conveyed inner feelings of happiness, a day difficult to forget. Right in front of the hall was the doctoral candidate, Gisela Nneka Uzukwu. She welcomed family and friends with a handshake and her disposition seemed serene and confident.

At 1:32 the session started with a brief introduction by the Dean of the Faculty of Theology, Prof. Dr. Lieven Boeve. This was followed by the presentation by Gisela. The topic was“The Unity of Male and Female in Christ: An Exegetical Study of Gal. 3:28c in Light of Paul’s Theology of Promise.” Isolating Gal. 3:28c within its immediate literary context of Gal. 3:27-29, Gisela indicated that her work is divided into two parts and ten chapters. Chapters 1-5 focused on a critical discussion of important aspects in the history of interpretation of Gal. 3:28 and chapters 6-10 discussed Paul’s theological interpretation of Promise. The candidate pointed out that there has been an overwhelming scholarly discussion in relation to her topic. She presented some scholarly discussions bringing out clearly her research hypothesis, research questions and her unique contribution to the debate. Gisela presented the results of her findings in clear terms stating that Gal. 3:28c is not a pre-Pauline text but is uniquely Pauline.

After the presentation the Promoter Prof. Dr. Bieringer congratulated Sr. Gisela. He pointed out that the doctoral defense is a climax of eight years of study in Leuven. Prof. Bieringer described Gisela as a student who was active in international conferences and presented many papers and articles in international journals and series. Gisela was appraised for being at home with her materials. Prof. Bieringer noted that the text of study has been described as “a manifesto of Christian feminism.” He also observed that there has been recent disillusionment in the feminist study of the text. He reiterated the candidate’s claim that Gal. 3:28 is a thorough part of Galatians.

The three correctors of the thesis Prof. Dr. Thomas Söding from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany. Prof. Gilbert Van Belle and Dr. Anthony Dupont both from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, made critical comments and asked questions which were effectively tackled by the candidate. The jury adjourned for deliberation. After the deliberation, the Chair of the defense Prof. Boeve proclaimed Sr. Gisela a doctor. The session ended with reception. A thanksgiving Mass was celebrated at University Parish International Community (UPIC). Sr. Gisela enjoyed the presence of many friends and well wishes including Sisters from her congregation. The day will live long in the memories of people.

John Nat Tucker
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