I arrived home to Durham today after almost a week in Atlanta and thought I would share my thoughts about the conferences.

The biggest difference between this year and years past is that I wan’t able to finish completely either of the two papers I presented until I arrived. Unfortunately, this severely cut into my ability to hear the variety of papers and chat with people in the books stalls as much as I normally do. The primary contributing factor for this delay was that my computer died for 3 weeks, but I also learned that applying for all those jobs back in the States takes up quite a bit more time than I expected.   Even with the last minute editing, both were well-received.

Since Tom was speaking in the plenary sessions and the theme of the conference was justification, I thought I would attend ETS. I was pleased by the irenic tone between Tom, Frank Thielman, and Tom Schreiner. Though that tone wasn’t displayed in all the smaller sessions, I think this was a very healthy step forward in the debate. The organisers even allowed a paper I offered up: ‘New Life: A Neglected Aspect of Justification in Romans’. The heart of the paper was just a survey of passages in Romans where righteousness language is either equated with life or described as its basis. My fundamental thesis is that justification is the response to dual aspects of the problem of sin: condemnation and death.

Since this latter problem is the emphasis of E.P. Sanders and Doug Campbell, I specifically interacted with both. In fact, I support a good bit about Campbell’s positive proposal regarding liberative justice, while arguing against his rejection of retributive justice. Most that reviewed Campbell’s The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul use up all their word count rebutting his negative proposal, and from most you wouldn’t even think that Campbell has a place for justification. (This part of his reading seems to be ignored like Sander’s reading of Paul has been.) Campbell places it in the realm of liberation from the power and corruption of sin.  He decided to attend the conference because of its theme, and so he, unexpectedly, came to the paper.  I was happy that he was able to hear how I deal with his positive proposal. I was most pleased that no one challenged my reading in the Q&A time, and a couple of suggestions were given to strengthen the argument–particularly around Rom 7, which I didn’t address because of my methodology led me to focus on other passages. I’m definitely going to expand this and get it to a journal in the new year.

Since this post has grown so big, I’ll do a second post on SBL.

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