To Err is Humorous (Sometimes)

I love my job. But one part of it I could happily forgo: grading papers. I know I’m far from alone. (One of my colleagues quips, “I teach for free, but they have to pay me to grade papers.”) I estimate that I’m looking down the barrel at nearly 40 hours of grading for this semester’s classes.

However, this oppressive cloud does have a (thin) silver lining: the opportunity to encounter some amusing typos or bloopers. I’ve collected a number of these gems since I started teaching, and this would certainly be a fitting time of year to share them. But before I do, I should emphasize that most of these are innocent mistakes and no reflection on the abilities of the students who wrote them. Some of them appeared in otherwise excellent papers. They’re the sort of errors any of us could make, and many of us have made, especially when under the pressure of a deadline or ambushed by the AutoCorrect feature of our word processors. So enjoy them, but don’t forget that these are human errors — and we’re all human.

With that caveat in place, I dedicate the following to all of my fallow grazers.

From exam papers:

“The Postmodern Turn was obviously most affected by postmodernism.” (At least he said ‘obviously’.)

“Postmodernism is a logical outworking of postmodernism.” (Hard to argue with that! In fairness, I think the second instance was meant to be ‘modernism’, in which case he may have a point.)

“Among naturalists we find that many are Evolutionists which is frightening.” (Naturalists red in tooth and claw?)

“Liberation Theology is theology constructed from the perspective of the experience of oppressed groups, such as economically poor citizens in countries ruled by Latin American dictators, blacks, women, and homosexuals.”

One of the biblical grounds for divorce: “dissertation by an unbelieving spouse”. (Doctoral studies certainly can take their toll!)

In answer to a question about applying the Ten Commandments to a case scenario involving an incestuous relationship: “The 4th commandment may be relevant depending on whether they had sex on the Sabbath and your view of the Sabbath.”

From research papers:

“R.C. Sprout says . . .”

“. . . the eminent return of Christ . . .”

“. . . wherein God behaves as an idiot servant . . .” (Presumably he meant “idiot savant”.)

On the invisible church: “For in this title we have the people of God in every age in view in one foul swoop.”

“Divorce is permitted only on grounds of sexual immortality or dissertation.” (The mind boggles!)

Quoting John Calvin: “It behooves us to recognize that we have been endowed with reason and understanding, so that, by leading a holy and upright life, we may press on to the appointed goal of blessed immorality.”

“[Heraclitus] calls Hermodorus ‘the best man of [the Ephesians]’ before he castrates the populace for banishing him.”

“A pastoral church needs to feed the sheep in the pan while continuing to seek for the lost.”

“So we see that Abraham was justified by his faith and not by his fleshy works.”

“Numbers 15 gives instructions on how to make atonement for singing unintentionally.”

Quoting the apostle Paul in Romans 8: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor posers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“The entire world is caught in the throws of sin . . .” (Wicked bedspreads?)

“Prophets brought messages of prosecution when Israel committed breeches of covenant.” (As worn by John Knox, perhaps.)

“Some people claim that Jesus did not really die on the cross; he was only in Acoma and quickly recovered.” (I haven’t been able to locate Acoma on the map, but apparently it’s the place to go if you’re mortally wounded.)

“In the TULIP acronym T stands for total depravity of mankind, U for unlimited election, L for limited atonement, I for irritable grace and P for perseverance of the saints.”

From bibliographies:

“John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1559th edition” (If at first you don’t succeed…)

“John R.W. Stott, The Massage of Acts

“Louise Burkhof, Systematic Theology

By the way, if I had a penny for every time I saw “Berkhof” misspelled in a paper…

Finally, my all-time personal favorite:

On the title page of a dissertation: “Faulty Advisor: Dr. James Anderson”

(It was tempting to give that last one a ‘C’.)

5 Responses to To Err is Humorous (Sometimes)

  1. Patrick Chan

    That made my day! Very funny stuff. :-)

    BTW:

    I love my job. But one part of it I could happily forgo: grading papers. I know I’m far from alone. (One of my colleagues quips, “I teach for free, but they have to pay me to grade papers.”) I estimate that I’m looking down the barrel at nearly 40 hours of grading for this semester’s classes.

    Hm, on the other hand, grading papers could end up leading you to write the next literary classic! :-)

    In a 1955 letter to W. H. Auden (Letters), Tolkien recollects in the late 1920s, when he was Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College, he began The Hobbit when he was marking School Certificate papers. On the back of one of the papers, he wrote the words “In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit”.

  2. Your “Faulty Advisor” example reminded me of the time I was in my fourth (extended) year externalling for a programme at one of the august universities in England.
    On the paperwork I was listed as the “Eternal Examiner”. It felt a bit that way!

  3. Pingback: Funny Errors, Beards, Grandchildren, Baby Names, and Graduation « 81 Inches

  4. mitrellim

    This year I graded a student’s paper, which may have had one of the funniest misspellings I have ever read. The student was attempting to quote Romans 2:14 when she said, “For when the Genitals, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves.”
    Tim