My long cherished dream came true when I received my PhD degree with distinction from the prestigious Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, The Netherlands, on 19th June 2014. The title of the dissertation in Dutch was “De eigen aard en functie van de dialoog in het Boek der Tekenen (Joh. 1:19-12:50).” In English it is, “The Nature and Function of Dialogue in the Book of Signs (John 1:19-12:50).” In his concluding speech my Doktorvater Prof. Dr. Jan G. van der Watt made the following significant statements to all those who have honoured the ceremony with their presence.
Dear Dr. Johnson Thomaskutty,
It feels like yesterday when we first met on that summer day at Serampore near Kolkata. I remember that I was very excited to see the place where William Carey worked and left such an important heritage. There I encountered William Carey, or at least his house and study room, with his desk and chair, and of course also Johnson Thomaskutty, a young scholar who was working on John and was eager to present to me his work on John. People spoke well of you in Serampore and told me that John will never be the same if John . . . Johnson finishes his studies. And today we are so far. You are now a doctor in New Testament studies and of course your field of specialization is John. Between Serampore and Nijmegen you did drink the water of Princeton, but you needed Radboud University Nijmegen to really taste the clean running water (for those who are not Johannine scholars, this is a pun on John 4 where Jesus offers the Samaritan woman running water). I am very glad that today we could finish what started so many years ago in Serampore. I am glad for you and of course I am also proud. Proud because you showed what it meant to work hard and diligently, to persevere and what it means to be a person who is always willing to learn and push yourself and the boundaries of knowledge a little further. That makes me proud.
I expect a lot from you in India—that is also why I did not hesitate to accept you as PhD candidate. You showed potential from the very beginning. You will make a difference, of that I am sure. Your personality, that is always friendly and open, your vision that always sees another opportunity and new challenges, your lust for life that makes it a pleasure to watch you plan and explain what is still to be done, all those things make me excited about your future.
I wish you a very good future as doctor in New Testament studies, for me and I am sure for you too, the most wonderful and exciting subject to study. Your career is now really taking off with force, since now you have shown and is acknowledged by your peers as a capable researcher who thoroughly deserved the right and earned the opportunity to partake in our academic quest for more and richer knowledge of the New Testament.
May God bless you in your further ventures as doctor in New Testament studies.
Prof. Jan G. van der Watt
Chair in New Testament and Source Texts of Early Christianity
Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen