Dissertations (PhD)

You are welcome to peruse these theses/dissertations. They may be cited, but please observe standard academic protocol for doing so. If you wish to contact the author(s), email your request to admin@agstalliance.com.

Huu-Thien Tran N. (2022), PhD (Biblical Studies)

Supervisors: Dr Timothy Kao; Dr Federico G. Villaneuva.

The Chronicler’s reading of biblical sources: A model for Asian biblical hermeneutics 

Scholars observe that for the past two hundred years biblical interpretation in the West has traditionally focused on studying mainly what the text meant. In contrast, Asian biblical interpretation is holistic in terms of studying both what the text meant and what the text means (the twofold goal). This dissertation employs the approaches of redaction criticism and philosophical hermeneutics to study the book of Chronicles and three common models of Asian biblical reading and finds that the Chronicler’s reading and the Asian biblical readings are similar in terms of achieving the twofold goal.  

The dissertation proposes a reading model in which Asian readers are called to distinguish between the foundational criterion and the purpose of reading. Interpreting the Bible faithfully according to what the text meant is foundational to subsequent contextualization and relevant application. Reading the Bible with relevance to variable Asian readers’ contexts is the second aspect of the twofold aim of interpretation. Asian readers may employ historical–critical and literary approaches to meet the foundational criterion and then employ the shared interpretative principles between the Chronicler’s reading and Asian biblical readings to achieve their purposes of reading. This proposed reading model is a synthesis of the strengths of the Chronicler’s reading and the three Asian reading models to achieve the twofold aim of biblical interpretation.

Ooi Chin Aik (2021), PhD (Theology)

Supervisor: Dr Peter Riddell

The Allah Debate in Malay Bible Translations: Historical, Linguistic and Theological Perspectives

If you would like to read a copy of the full dissertation, please contact Chin Aik directly: mappartnersmal@gmail.com.

This dissertation seeks to address a central research question of whether it is still a “translational necessity” in Malaysia today to use Allah to denote ‘God’ in Malay Bible translations. The study considers the debate from the historical, linguistic and theological perspectives and seeks to articulate a theology of Bible translation factoring in biblical theology and ‘grammatico-historical’ exegesis for fidelity in translation, translation theories and modern linguistics including lexical semantics and socio-linguistics for cross-cultural cognitive equivalence.

This study, in using the methodological research as outlined, concludes that the findings point to the “translational necessity” of rendering elohim/theos as Allah in Malay Bible translations today to accurately convey the theological referent meaning and sense of ‘Supreme God’ to the target audience.

Binsen Samuel Sidjabat (2017), PhD (Edn)

Supervisors: Edward Sands and Allan Harkness.

Adult religious education through devotional books in Indonesia: An investigation of Andar Ismail’s Selamat series and its significance for theological education

If you would like to read a copy of the dissertation, please contact Samuel directly: samsidjabat@gmail.com. The dissertation is available in both Bahasa Indonesia and English.

This research examines the works and thought of Andar Ismail, Indonesian Presbyterian pastor and Emeritus Professor of Christian Education, specifically in his 27-volume SelamatSeries of devotional books. This dissertation describes the teaching contents of the books, and then identifies Andar Ismail’s understanding of the reason, purpose, curriculum and learning strategy for effective adult religious education. It shows that, informed by the Bible and by the psychology and sociology of adults, he considers adult religious education in the church as a fundamental need as it guides adults towards experiencing God’s shalom (selamat), living a Christ-centred life and being motivated and competent in understanding the Bible. Based on his understanding of adults’ roles and tasks in family, church, society and market place and their need to grow spiritually, Andar Ismail has designed creative learning materials by integrating curriculum construction theory, the Bible, theology, knowledge, a descriptive teaching approach and journalistic principles. Finally, this research explores the extent to which Andar Ismail’s model, thought and work may have significance for theological education in Indonesia.

Casey Ng Kong Chiew (2015), PhD (Edn)

Supervisors: Graham Cheesman and Allan Harkness

Contextualising theological education: An emic study of practical contextualisation of theological education in Singapore

If you would like to read a copy of the dissertation, please contact Casey directly: hi2casey@gmail.com.

Contextualising theological education has been a popular buzzword since the 1980s. However, little research has been done to evaluate the success of contextualising theological education in Singapore. The purpose of this research is to examine the relationship between the espoused understanding of selected theological institutions and their practice in practical contextualisation of theological education.

The theory of action framework, as developed by Chris Argyris and Donald Schön, was employed in this research to critically analyse the practice of contextualising theological education in Singapore. In theory of action, finding congruence between espoused theories and theories-in-use is essential for effective practice. In this research, espoused theories of 47 participants from four theological institutions were gathered and analysed against the theories-in-use implied by their actions, and triangulated by data gathered from interviews with a focus group composed of eight other theological educators from different theological institutions. A comparative thematic analysis reveals varying levels of congruence and dissonance between espoused theories and theories-in-use in 12 areas of practical contextualisation in theological education (grouped under five broad dimensions – structural, sociological, historical-cultural, pedagogical, and missional).

Consequently, four recommendations are presented to bring congruence to the dissonances so as to contextualise theological education more effectively in Singapore. The findings of this research can contribute towards helping theological institutions to re-examine themselves and address the gap between their espoused theories and theories-in-use so that significant benefits will accrue in the training of Christian leaders.

Soh Hui Leng Davina (2015), PhD (Edn)

Supervisors: Graham Cheesman and Allan Harkness

The motif of hospitality in theological education: A critical appraisal with implications for application In theological education

If you would like to read a copy of the dissertation, please contact Davina directly: davinasoh@gmail.com.

Taking an interdisciplinary conceptual approach, this dissertation establishes the viability of hospitality as a practice in theological education for teachers to create a hospitable teaching-learning environment for the holistic formation of students. It accomplishes this by examining how hospitality has been proposed by educators to address the perennial ills and challenges in Christian higher education, theological education, and higher education. Its interpretation of the biblical metaphor of hospitality then provides the conceptual framework to approach the application of hospitality by teachers in theological institutions seeking to form their students holistically. This research uses the cluster concept to define hospitality and identifies the constitutive elements of hospitality as inclusion, presence, care, and reciprocity. It proposes ways theological educators can practise at least one, if not more, of the constitutive elements to create an effective environment for the holistic formation of students.

Alex Tang Tuck Hon (2012), PhD (Edn)

Supervisors: Jennifer Turner and Allan Harkness

Till we are fully formed: A conceptual investigation of a Christian spiritual formation paradigm in the English-speaking Presbyterian churches in Malaysia

If you would like to read a copy of the dissertation, please contact Alex directly: draltang@yahoo.com.

This study examined the current spiritual formation approaches in the English-speaking Presbyterian churches in Malaysia. A conceptual inquiry was conducted to assess the appropriateness of these approaches. These spiritual formation approaches were found to be inappropriate for holistic spiritual formation in these churches. A more holistic approach to Christian spiritual formation (CSF) which is comprised of the formative strands of person-in-formation, persons-in-community formation, and persons-in-mission formation in a CSF paradigm was proposed. In this approach CSF was defined as the intentional and ongoing process of inner transformation to become like Jesus Christ, become a people of God, and be God’s agents for his redemptive purposes. This dissertation recognised that the ontological, epistemological, and pedagogical foundations of CSF are restoration of the imago Dei and the making of shalom.

Rosalind Yeet-Wah Lim (2009), PhD (Edn)

Supervisors: Cynthia Dixon and Allan Harkness

Faith Formation of Children in the Malaysian Baptist English-Speaking Congregations: A Vygotskian Approach [PDF]

Historically the goal of childhood faith formation in Baptist congregations has been to nurture children to become regenerate believers, persons in community, and persons in ministry and witness. However empirical observation and field survey showed that Malaysian Baptist English-Speaking (MBE) congregations are not aware of this faith formation goal for their children, and existing formation practices reveal inconsistencies in approaches and styles. Furthermore, most MBE congregations view faith formation of children more of a parental responsibility than a co-nurturing process with parents and congregation working together. This dissertation proposes that the Vygotskian sociocultural approach is appropriate for MBE congregations to recover the original goal for faith formation of their children in a way which is biblical, contextually meaningful, and consistent with the Baptist confessions, as the formation of their children’s attitudes, beliefs, and personalities is influenced by knowledge, sociocultural variables, and personal meaning making.

Jeremiah Chai-sei Chu (2015), PhD (Theol)

Supervisor: Jason Yeung

Hong Kong evangelical theology in the context of 1997: A study from 1982 to 1997 with critical theological reflections on its roots in the holiness-revival movement

Click here to read a summary in English and Chinese. If you would like to read a copy of the full dissertation, please contact Jeremiah directly: chujeremiah@hotmail.com.

Jeremiah’s research is an exegetical, social and historical exploration of Hong Kong Evangelicals (HKEs) doing a ‘theology of 1997’ during 1982-1997. Although HKEs had long been emphasising Biblical faith, they neglected its contextualisation. However, they were given a chance for a theological breakthrough while facing the crisis of 1997. Jeremiah’s findings are significant for HKEs and global Chinese churches. First, he suggests HKEs should be historically defined as ‘second phrase denominations’ (compared with Mainline churches as first phrase), with the majority coming from the American Holiness-Revival Movement, which was originally a social holiness movement, and these churches are capable enough to revive this tradition. Second, the issues surrounding 1997 can facilitate a unique political theology for HKEs without necessarily adopting the political theologies of the West, and especially by bringing an evangelical dimension to post-1997 Christian witness in Hong Kong and China.

Roger Senior (2014), PhD (Theol)

Supervisor: David Harley

The contextualisation of leadership in Paul’s ministry and writings: A study with application to English-speaking Methodist churches in Peninsular Malaysia

If you would like to read a copy of the dissertation, please contact Roger directly: Roger.Senior@omfmail.com.

The leadership in the Pauline churches of the New Testament was examined with the aim of identifying the theological principles which influenced the process of leadership contextualisation, as the churches both built on the leadership understandings prevalent in the contexts of the time, and also prophetically challenged and transformed them. These principles include Christ’s unique position as ruler and mediator, his example of service and weakness, the sociality of the trinitarian God, and the truth of the gospel. In order to show the value of this research for today, district superintendents of the English-speaking Methodist churches of the TRAC Conference in Peninsular Malaysia were interviewed. These interviews indicate that the pastors are broadly following Pauline theological principles, but some areas in which more contextualisation could be stimulated are identified.

Paul R. Woods (2013), PhD (Theol)

Supervisor: Jonathan Ingleby

The migration phenomenon in East Asia: Towards a theological response from God’s people as a host community [PDF]

This dissertation works towards a theological response from the East Asian church to intra-regional migration. It provides an introduction to migration theory and the experiences of people on the move, as the basis of a theological reflection.

Migration is a significant part of modern life, and the Asian church has begun to respond and reach out to migrants. However, this concern for the Other (someone different and distinct from oneself) is patchy and lacks robust theological foundations. Migration brings those in the host countries face to face with racial and social Others, who may face ill-treatment and exploitation, to which the church is sometimes perceived as indifferent. The principal motifs employed in the work are Otherness and liminality. Through these, this research explores the commandments in the Pentateuch which require fair treatment of the alien in Israel. A similar approach is applied to Christ’s life and teaching and the example of the early church in the New Testament. The same motifs of Otherness and liminality are used to examine the status of God’s followers before Him and other nations. The apparent tension in the Bible between social inclusivity and religious exclusivism towards aliens and religious Others is investigated by means of an attractive vector operating inside a space of acceptance to move non-believers towards faith in Yahweh. This space originates within the Godhead and extends out into the wider world. The church draws on the Triune God by a process of cascading, through which various aspects of His nature and experience flow down from Him, to the church and thence through it into the broader society. Finally, the work synthesises the findings from the scriptures into suggestions for a theological response from the church, as individuals and as a group within society, and gives some pointers towards concrete action within the transnational space.