Though this blog is usually about New Testament and theological topics, I (Ben) found out a tax trick related to investing that I’d never heard of, so I needed to post it somewhere. Every semester I give a lecture on retirement investing (moral of that story: start saving when you are 22!), so perhaps at least one of my students is reading this. If not, then you might benefit anyway, unintentionally. Plus, since theologians don’t make much money, we are more likely to benefit from this tax arrangement.

Basically, the story is this: if you fall in the 10% or 15% tax bracket, any long term capital gains are taxed at 0%! Taking you through several scenarios, this blog post explains the Mechanics of the 0% Long-Term Capital Gains Tax Rate.

Speaking of avoiding taxes, let me also remind readers of a great tip I received when I was heading off to PhD studies: convert any 401ks, 403bs, or IRAs to a Roth IRA while in school and you have little to no income, and that money will never be taxed.


I was just reading an old book review on a collection of published papyri (P.Mert. vol. 1) written in the middle of the last century and was surprised by what, in the mind of the reviewer, was considered back then to be such an expensive book that it was basically out of the price range even of specialists (in this case, papyrologists). The reviewer, Naphtali Lewis (1911-2005), said this in Classical Weekly, 44 (1951), 152-153, here 152:

Since its price places it beyond the reach of many or most of those who work with papyri, it is to be hoped that copies of this most useful publication will be found in all our large university libraries.

Now, this is a fairly common statement to find in a review on an over-priced volume, but what was the cost of the book? £12! After the initial shock, however, I quickly realized that the effects of inflation over the past half century should probably be taken into consideration. I did some research therefore and found out that £12 in 1950 was worth about $34, which today would be equivalent to about $283! So, I guess Lewis was right: while scholars today don’t normally make a huge amount of money (relative to other educated professionals anyway), the volume itself would certainly have been a bit out of my budget and probably that of most scholars. But that’s why we do book reviews, right Dr. Lewis?!

I got an email the other day through Durham about partnerships/connections that the University has with two external funding schemes for international people studying in the UK.  I think both of these are focused on US students, but I haven’t taken time to get all the details.  Since funding is not that great in these parts, and probably won’t get better due to the recent restructuring of the UK higher education funding from the government, these are helpful sources:

The other source that is important but often neglected because you have to apply 18 months before the program starts is the Rotary international fund for Ambassadorial Scholarships.  They’ll only fund for one year now, but $27,000 is worth the effort and worth delaying a year if you could swing one.

For those of you looking to help fund/offset costs of studying at Durham, there is an opportunity for single (maybe married?) students to get housing and meals covered by being a Resident Tutor (kind of like a mix between being an RA and dorm parent mixed together in US terms). Each college has these, so if you are not with St John’s then check with your own college for similar opportunities.

St. John’s College, University of Durham seeks to appoint Two Resident Tutors beginning September/October 2010

We are looking for applicants who:

  • are academics, or graduates, in any discipline
  • will be pastorally responsible for a group of 25 undergraduates, and involved, in a wider sense, in the well being of all living in College.
  • will help to foster the College’s lively inter-disciplinary intellectual life
  • will share in the life and worship of this vibrant Christian community

Resident Tutors live and eat in College, and are provided with an allowance per student and a stipend.

Application form and further particulars are available from the Senior Tutor’s Secretary, St John’s College, 3 South Bailey, Durham, DH1 3RJ (Tel: 0191 334 3881). Email: Applications should be received by 5.00pm on Wednesday 5th May. Interviews are planned to take place on the 6th and 7th May 2010.

I just got an email about this. The biblical studies work is a great opportunity–I’ve interacted with George van Kooten on a number of occasions, and he’s an excellent scholar and a nice guy. I would imagine this would be open to English speakers since George, along with many other Dutch people, speaks English. He did his MA here at Durham with Jimmy Dunn.

Your attention is drawn to two PhD positions at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

One position is concerned with the Jewish Revolt against Rome The other position may be filled with biblical studies (Jewish Scripture, Ancient Judaism, New Testament, Early Christianity) For further information, see :

PhD position Theology and Religious Studies; enquiries:

PhD position The Jewish Revolt against Rome; enquiries:

Deadline for submission: March 1st, 2010

I got this through the email the other day. I met Dr Brodie last year, and he seems like a nice chap.

DOMINICAN BIBLICAL INSTITUTE , LIMERICK, IRELAND in association with Mary Immaculate College, UNIVERSITY OF LIMERICK, seeks applicants for two scholarships to be awarded to suitably qualified candidates, beginning Sept 2010. The first is for a PhD on: The Transformation of Scripture in 1 Corinthians. The amount of the scholarship is €15,000 per year plus fee waiver, for three years of full-time study. The second is for a one-year Post-doctoral fellowship on: Gospel Origins:
The Case for Proto-Luke (rather than Q). This scholarship is oriented to publication and provides €25,000 for one year of full-time study.
For further information, contact Thomas Brodie, email:, tel. 353 (0)61 – 490 605.

I came across this website that lists various scholarships for UK institutions: .  Unfortunately, they don’t narrow it down beyond ‘humanities’, but you can see which departments are offering the financial aid, so it’s not that difficult to filter through them.

Also, there appears to be other generic info about UK education stuff for internationals on the site.

With the expense of tuition for international students in the UK student debt is one of the most common ways of funding the UK PhD.  I got an email from a friend that might give a little extra comfort with regard to this for US students with US loans…

I wanted to share a new program being launched next year in July 2009, the Project of Student Debt. This program will allow forgiveness of student loans after 10 years of working in public service or education. Also classified under this umbrella would be anyone working for a 501(c)3 charity, ministry, or school. Check out this link to see if you could qualify or tell others about it. This program will be retro-active as well. Another benefit is that over a certain amount of debt, you would be charged a percentage of your monthly income (this is called “income sensitive”) instead of the regular scheduled amount.

So from what I read, if you teach at a university, among other jobs, you should qualify.  Check out more details here: Project on Student Debt and here

Just to clarify from my earlier post that the Overseas Research Scholarship scheme was scrapped…It still is, but not immediately as the article mentioned.  We got clarification from Loren Stuckenbruck that people applying to programs for Autumn 2009 can still get it for 3 years.  So this year’s the time to apply.

So it only took me 2 years to figure this out but there is another way to get around on buses that can be cheaper than buying a ‘return’ ticket.  In my understanding of buses there are basic tickets (single=1-way; return=2-way) and long term passes for commuters.  But it turns out that you can get a day pass that gives you unlimited travel either within a zone or within a bus company’s area, depending what kind and which company’s bus you are on.  Passes for one company don’t work for others’ buses.

In Durham there are two major bus companies–Go North East and Arriva.  With GNE they have different zones for the different towns and villages.   When I go to Bishop Auckland, a Red+Turquoise zone day pass is cheaper than buying a return ticket–£4.60 vs £5.50 or so.  With Arriva an individual day pass is £6 for an all day pass anywhere they go.  Particularly economical is the family pass with Arriva at £10, especially if you have to make connections. 

Even better for students is GNE’s Get Around Card.  As a university student you don’t have to pay for different zones, you just pay £2.50 for a day pass and you can go anywhere they go–south of Durham up to the Scottish border.  So, this is a bit cheaper than Arriva’s £6.

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