November 2008


It seems the obligatory thing to do in late November is give the roundup of your recent conference experiences, and I’ll gladly follow this pattern…

I first headed to ETS last Tuesday in Providence. The flight was good, and several of us from Durham had the same itenerary–John Goodrich and I had seats together going and coming. It’s nice to go to ETS first so I can adjust to the time change. I gave a paper on ‘Righteousness and Glory in Romans’. I had a crowd of about 20 people, and got a few good clarifying questions, but none that challenged my basic thesis (I’ll do a separate post with the details). I scheduled a lunch with my profs from Ouachita–Scott Duvall and Danny Hays–to glean their wisdom about job hunting. I didn’t get anything too specific, but they were helpful in clarifying expections and things. Beside my own, I would say Darrell Bock’s call for a response to Robinson and Koester on development of ‘christianities’ was the most interesting paper I heard. I also learned that a volume (Paul and the Second Century) in which I’m contributing a chapter on Paul and Irenaeus is going to be picked up by T&T Clark.

On Friday, we caught the train up to Boston for IBR. Unfortunately I was too tired and wasn’t able to concentrate on Joel Green’s paper. In fact I left the mingle time early because I was too tired to really interact with people, so I made up for it throughout SBL.

As SBL kicked off, I noticed that there weren’t an overwelming number of papers/sessions I wanted to attend as in years past. Of those I did attend, it struck me that not that many seems that ‘new’ to me. I think the deal is that now that I am finally engaging Paul at a deep academic level many of the debates are no longer that new. I can see that people often just nuance what has been argued before. Accordingly, I spent lots of time hanging out in the book stalls talking to people. I’m not a big networker, but my web of contacts from other UK university contacts, the blogging world, etc. made it fairly easy to find someone to chat with, and invariably I got introduced to their friends as they happened by. You might think with all that time in the book stalls, I loaded up on books. I only made three purchases: the new edition of the Nag Hammadi Scriptures, Thrall’s 2 Corinthians (ICC), and Furish’s New Testament Theology of 1 Corinthians. Highlights of the conference were the blogger dinner, where I finally met several others in person…such as Matt Montini, Josh McManaway, James McGrath, Michael Halcolmb, Jim Getz, and later that night Mark Goodacre; After that dinner I headed to the Durham Reception. Fortunately, Durham’s not cutting back like others may have done. I think we had almost double from last year, but maybe it was just a smaller room or maybe we picked up a few from other receptions were cancelled or underfunded. On Monday, a few of us hit the town to do some sightseeing–’freedom trail‘ in Boston and Harvard, which was only 20 minutes away by subway. (I learned that Boston’s subway system is as bad as London’s with too many steps and hardly any escalators or elevators/lifts)

Reflections: 1) Since my paper was originally offered to SBL but declined, I learned a good lesson to make the ‘so-what’ factor clear in my future abstracts. 2) I’ll ask around for people’s opinions about which sessions will have the fire works. I seemed to regularly miss the good ones. 3) I’ll continue to move toward the pattern of a healthy balance between sessions and chatting in the book stalls or local sight seeing.  I definitely kept my sanity much better this year by not overloading myself with sessions.

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.

I recently learned some bad news for international students in the UK.  The ORS (i.e., the ORSAS) scholarship scheme that paid the difference between local and international fees has been scrapped.  It was funded by the UK national government and there are apparently no plans to replace it.  See here for details.

For significant funding at Durham, they give Doctoral Fellowships to pay for all fees, but it’s really unfortunate to lose this nice piece of funding.

A friend here mentioned the possibility of getting a Rotatry scholarship to fund coming to study in the UK.  He mentioned that competition is often not as stiff as it could be because you have to apply 1.5 years before the program begins.  Here is the link he gave me: Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarships.

PhD Studentship in Biblical Studies: the Use of the Old Testament in the New Newman University College is offering a fully-funded PhD studentship in Biblical Studies, available from January 2009 for three years. The successful candidate will be required to study on a full-time basis and preferably to be willing to live within reasonable travelling distance of the College.

Applicants must have a good first degree (1st or 2i), preferably in Biblical Studies. Those with a good first degree in Theology will also be considered, if they can demonstrate that their undergraduate course included a substantial element of Biblical Studies. It is desirable that applicants also have an MA or MTh in Biblical Studies, or a closely related area, and a working knowledge of New Testament Greek.

It is important to demonstrate in the application evidence of the skills necessary to undertake independent research (e.g. details of research methods modules undertaken and/or successful dissertations
completed.)

The studentship will require exploration of some area within the general field of the Use of the Old Testament in the New. Candidates will be free to choose which book(s) of the New Testament to study in depth, and which aspect of the field to focus on (e.g. direct OT citations; OT allusions; the exegetical techniques of a NT author; the representation in a NT book of an OT narrative or characters; Septuagintal text-form; parallels in the Qumran texts, other ancient Jewish commentaries or Hellenistic literature; the contribution to this field of rhetorical or narrative criticism; theological intentions of a NT author). Candidates will be invited to state on their application form the aspect(s) of New Testament study in which they are particularly interested, and to outline a draft research topic/proposal. Those called for interview will also be asked to supply samples of their previous work.

The Supervisory team will be:
Dr. Martin O’Kane, Visiting Professor of Biblical Studies at Newman University College and Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies at the University of Wales, Lampeter (areas of expertise: Hebrew Bible, literary and inter-disciplinary approaches to the text); and Dr. Susan Docherty (areas of expertise: Use of the OT in the NT, Septuagint, Second Temple Judaism).

For further information please contact:
Dr. Susan Docherty; S.E.Docherty@newman.ac.uk; 0121 476 1181 ext.
2231. Informal enquires/discussions from interested candidates are welcome.

Check out the latest edition of the Patristics Carnival hosted at Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength this month.

As an update to those of you thinking about coming to Durham, they are about to double the individually assigned postgrad study space.  Based on the availaibility of space owned by the cathedral, the department has secured more office space for PhD students.  There are currently 3 spaces that have just opened which give priority to 3rd year students.  There is also another 10 or so other spots that will be opening around December.  I can say that I have been impressed with the departments willingness to move fairly quickly in institutional terms to address this need.  These spaces supplement the unassigned spots at the Palace Green library and at the Elvet Riverside building, which are both designated as postgrad only.

My esteemed colleague, Kevin Hill, who is studying the Holy Spirit’s role in deification in Athanasius here with Father Andrew has posted a nice introduction to deification/theosis on his blog.

I’m quite a bit behind on this, but Phil has done another great job with the Patristics Carnival XVI.

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