How I Met my Viva: Water pipe and ethnography in Cana of Galilee

I recently received an e-mail for Edinburgh humanities alumni asking for authors for posts on this new series: How I Met my Viva. For American readers, the viva is the defense of the doctoral thesis (or dissertation, as it is called in the USA). It is the time where you make it or break it. I remember when one friend of mine, whom I regard as a superior scholar frankly, failed his viva.

Here is how the blog post starts, which is based on my own experience:

I had submitted my thesis to the university some months ago, but they were having a hard time finding someone who knew about converts from Islam to Christianity to be my external examiner. At the time I was living in Nazareth, which is the largest Arab city in Israel, teaching at a local seminary. After some delay my viva had been scheduled, and I decided to pick the brain of my colleague Phil Sumpter, who had recently received his PhD in Old Testament from a university in Wales. I had, of course, asked several of my friends at Edinburgh about vivas, but that was early on in my doctoral research when actually preparing for my own viva was a remote concern. I had heard horror stories—the guy who had failed and then failed again his PhD [defense], leaving the uni with student loans but no degree. I also had friends who passed with flying colors. But then there was the murky middle area, a friend who was given major corrections, which included reordering his chapters, and another one who was instructed to adopt a different theoretical framework.

Read the rest of the post at No More Blue Mondays.


Author: duanemiller

I was born in Montana and grew up in Colorado and Puebla (in Mexico). I completed a BA in philosophy at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and then an MA in theology at St Mary's University (also in San Antonio). Later life took me to Jordan where my wife and I studied Arabic, to Israel where I helped found a seminary, and to Scotland for doctoral work, among other places. I live in Madrid now where I teach and minister. I'm highly interested in the interactions of Islam, Christianity and secularism in modern contexts. My main areas of research for my PhD in divinity were religious conversion from Islam to Christianity, contextual theology, and the shari'a's treatment of apostates. I've also published research on global Anglicanism and the history of Anglican mission in the Ottoman Empire. I've had the pleasure of teaching in many places over the years: from Costa Rica to Turkey, and Kenya to Tunisia. I am associate professor at the Protestant Faculty of Theology at Madrid (UEBE) and priest at the Anglican Cathedral of the Redeemer in Madrid, Spain. Visit my blog ( or page for more information.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.