On May 3rd, John Barclay gave the inaugural lecture of the Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible, of St. Mary’s University College, UK. Barclay’s lecture, “Paul and the Gift: Gift-Theory, Grace and Critical Issues in the Interpretation of Paul,” summarized much of what will undoubtedly appear at length in his forthcoming book on Paul and the Gift (Eerdmans). Thankfully, St. Mary’s has made the video lecture available on YouTube.
Thursday, 16 May 2013
John Barclay, “Paul and the Gift: Gift-Theory, Grace and Critical Issues in the Interpretation of Paul”Posted by JGoodrich under Academia, Ancient History, Conferences, Durham, Paul, Paul and His Interpreters
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Saturday, 30 March 2013
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There’s a conference in Edinburgh this summer that you might be interested in:
Peter in Earliest Christianity
July 4-6, 2013
Speakers include: Timothy Barnes, Markus Bockmuehl, Sean Freyne, Larry Hurtado, Peter Lampe, Tobias Nicklas, Margaret Williams
Topics include: The Historical Peter, Peter in Galilean and Roman Archaeology, Peter in the First Three Centuries
Sounds like a good mix of NT, Greco-Roman, and Patristic scholarship. Those of you headed to St. Andrews for ISBL (July 7-11) should come to Edinburgh for this event first.
Monday, 18 March 2013
Last weekend I went to the Southwest Regional Conference for Religious Studies (SWCRS, or “swickers”), which is primarily based around the southwest region of SBL and AAR, but ASSR and IBR also had sessions. I presented a paper and participated in a book review session, about which I’ll blog later. For this first post, I thought I’d note the highlights from the Friday night event: NABPR. (I missed the Saturday morning meetings for NABPR because I was staying off site at my brother’s house.)
On Friday night a group of 15 or so met for the regional meeting of the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion. While this is only a select few of the actual members and of the professors at the various baptist schools around TX, AR, MO, and OK(?), we had a number of institutions represented. Several of us were from Houston Baptist, and other schools such as Baylor, Wayland, Howard Payne, Hardin Simmons, Ouachita (Arkansas), Southwest Baptist (Missouri), and Williams Baptist (Arkansas), among others, had faculty there.
The first half of the session was a presentation by the online tech person from Hardin Simmons. Everyone in the room was moving towards or already doing some kind of online. One of the early adopters Southwest Baptist Univ (Missouri) interestingly has been adjusting their online classes towards a hybrid approach that has some form of face-to-face contact because student retention is a problem with online only or online heavy programs. That makes sense, but I hadn’t thought about it. Some programs focused on summer online to focus on their students that were going home to do local community college work, whereas others integrate it more into the normal offering. HBU has started offering some hybrid classes in the Dept of Theology with Charles Halton and Mike Licona. I’ll be one of the first online only classes this summer, so I’ll get a feel for my first class that way. If any of you have experiences/war stories send them my way so I can avoid unnecessary problems.
The second half of the evening was the presidential address by HBU’s own David Capes. He walked through the various issues related to making a modern translation of the Bible, drawing from his immense experience with The Voice translation. His talk ranged from translation theory to how to deal with unfriendly reporting from national media. Even as one of the contributors to the project, I always learn something new about the project when I hear David talk.
I’m a big fan of conferences, and having one that includes a little professional development makes it all the more important.
Sunday, 10 February 2013
I presented a paper yesterday at the SBL Midwest Regional Meeting hosted by Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL. Despite the rather small presentation screens, it was a fine venue and in all a successful event–though, sadly, I could not stay for the entire conference. I presented in the Paul Section and my paper was titled “Sold under Sin: Echoes of Exile in Romans 7.14-25.” Essentially, I argue that just as Paul alludes to both Eden and Sinai (though mainly the latter) in Rom 7.7-13, so he alludes to the Babylonian captivity in 7.14-25, echoing Isa 49.24-50.2 in Rom 7.14 and 23-25. In short, I try to do for Romans 7-8 what Rodrigo Morales does for Galatians 3-4 (cf. The Spirit and the Restoration of Israel: New Exodus & New Creation Motifs in Galatians [Mohr Siebeck, 2010]). There were about a dozen other people in the room (neither the best nor the worst turn out I’ve had), and I even recognized one quite respected scholar in the back. What struck me, though, was the fact that, at the end of what I felt was a fairly well-executed paper, nobody asked any questions.
Now, this has happened to me before, and I’ve seen it happen to others as well. And while it is somewhat of a relief not to be raked over the coals in front of your peers, it is also quite anti-climactic for there to be total silence at the end of a 25-minute talk–given the time, effort, and nervous energy that goes into the entire process. I mean, you wrack your brain for a paper idea, craft the abstract, submit it, wait for its acceptance, get funding, write the paper, travel to the event, and finally after months of anticipation courageously share some of the most creative thoughts you’ve had in your life, only for nobody to make a single comment or ask a single question. What is one to think about such an empty reaction? Have my ideas simply been accepted uncritically, or was my thesis so uninspiring and unambitious to be undeserving of constructive feedback?
Well, after a period of pondering the implications of my silent audience, I reached the following conclusions:
- If, in the future, I truly desire feedback and it doesn’t seem to be immediately forthcoming, I should break the ice myself by asking the audience a question about one or more elements of my argument. Changing roles like this can be awkward, but I’ve done it before and have found it beneficial for getting things going.
- If I truly desire feedback, my paper should intend to provoke, pushing my evidences to their limits. Sometimes scholars require intellectual bait. That’s what it takes for my students to be interactive in class; it shouldn’t surprise that many professionals require the same. Indeed, unpublished conference papers should be bold, and mine can be quite a bit bolder. Conferences, after all, exist for scholars to take risks, to test drive ideas without the fear of having to commit to them forever. The feedback won’t always be positive, but it will probably be helpful and stimulating.
- If, in the future, I don’t get any feedback, silence is an acceptable response. At the end of the day, worse things can happen in a presentation than receiving no questions. After all, if I were to hear from a journal editor that no corrections were required for an article I had submitted, that would be good news; the same can be true with presentations.
- Still, this and other experiences have encouraged me as an auditor to be more interactive with conference presenters, especially those like me in the beginning stages of their career. Without a two-way exchange, the entire experience can feel like a bit of a waste of time.
Monday, 30 July 2012
FYI, this November’s SBL online program booklet is now available.
Monday, 11 June 2012
For those who haven’t seen it yet, Joel Willitts has listed the programme for the short papers for the St. Andrews Conference on Galatians in July. The programme for the main speakers is available on the St. Andrews website (here). I just wish that I could attend, but I’ll have to wait for the book.
Monday, 9 April 2012
Several days ago HBU’s growing philosophy department hosted a conference on divine and human agency. It was a really good event. There was an eclectic group of scholars in attendance and an eclectic group of papers, which were widely stimulating. I reconnected with some old friends and made several more. William (“Billy”) J. Abraham came down from SMU and was the keynote speaker. He’s an engaging speaker, and I had the pleasure of grabbing lunch with him and a couple of other friends on Saturday. I’ve not read widely in the areas in which he writes, but he mentioned that one of his favorite writers is St Symeon the New Theologian, a byzantine writer whom I’ve recently been reading, which brings me to the paper I gave.
I finally took the opportunity to write a paper that’s been rattling around in my head for a couple of years now: “Situating God and Humanity: Theosis and the Creator-Created Distinction”. My abstract:
The recent interest of westerners in the patristic and Eastern Orthodox idea of theosis, or deification, has forced theologians to reconsider the divine-human relationship. While many are positively inclined towards this model, when discussing the idea of believers being ‘gods’ from a western perspective, two questions repeatedly arise: does this break down the Creator-created distinction and does it entail absorption. Even those sanguine about the idea of deification are often unsure about these issues. For example, one recent theologian who argued for a form of deification in Calvin spoke of Christians who understood deification to be ‘literal’ rather than ‘hyperbolic’. In response to this lack of clarity, I argue that several key aspects of patristic and Byzantine deification theology reinforce the Creator-created distinction and make the issue of absorption unthinkable. Among these are Creationism, Trinitarianism, the essence/energies distinction, the hypostatic union, contemplation, participation/image language, and synergism. Orthodox Christianity follows a model of ‘attributive deification’ rather than ‘essential deification’. Both entail an ontological transformation, but the former is a transformation of attributes (hyperbolic), and the latter, a transformation of essence or nature (literal). As a result, the loss of human identity in the divine-human relationship has no place in orthodox discussions of deification. Other non-Trinitarian theological systems did/do not maintain these distinctions and therefore reflect ‘essential’ instead of ‘attributive’ forms of deification and are open to the charges that western theologians are concerned about.
For this paper I moved a little further on in history–moving on from early patristic writers to later patristic and byzantine writers–to substantiate my case, so I returned to Maximus the Confessor, Symeon the New Theologian and Gregory Palamas. I expect to send it to a theological journal like Modern Theology or Scottish Journal of Theology later this summer.
Thursday, 5 April 2012
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A gem that I learned about when moving to Houston is the Lanier Theological Library. Mark Lanier is graciously building a great academic resource for Houston by establishing a Tyndale House-style library by slowly purchasing the libraries of scholars when they retire/die. In addition to the library, Lanier also sponsors speakers and conferences. I had the pleasure of attending a recent conference (March 16-17) focused on the Philistines as part of the wider movement of the Sea Peoples: “Recent Research on the Sea Peoples and Philistines”. On Friday afternoon, there were several presenters that presented historical and archaeological research on the Sea Peoples movements (mostly around 1200-800 BC), and then on Saturday evening Sy Gitin focused specifically on work at Ekron (around 700-500 BC). Most lectures are open to the public, but the Friday conference was specifically limited to local scholars, which were drawn from a variety of faculty of graduate and undergraduate programs around Houston. Though the topic wasn’t a particular interest of mine, I learned a lot relish opportunity to participate in other quality events in the future.
Monday, 2 April 2012
I’m woefully behind on blogging, so I’m doing a few short posts on recent conferences that I’ve been to over the past month. The first was SWCRS (Southwest Commission on Religious Studies, aka “swickers”), which was combination of the NABPR (National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion), SBL, and AAR. This was the first regional conference of this kind that I’ve been to (aside from a couple of International SBLs, which have a different flavor).
The NABPR meeting on Friday night and Saturday morning allowed the opportunity to catch up with some old friends and to meet others. HBU was well represented: David Capes was helping run things, and Randy Hatchett gave a paper on theological interpretation. There were other papers on the future of theological education that were interesting, and if you are interested, David Capes set up a blog to house the papers: NABPR-Southwest.
The rest of the weekend I focused on the SBL side of things, but I slipped into an AAR session or two. Notable sessions were on: Hazon Gabriel (the Gabriel Revelation), Participation in Paul via Yoder’s Politics of Jesus (David Cramer, Baylor), and Early Pentecostals on Pentecost (Acts 2) (Mikeal Parsons and Peter Reynolds, Baylor). Another, very recent Baylor alumn (that is, he just successfully defended his dissertation) and HBU colleague who presented was Tim Brookins.
Incidentally, I’m fortunate to have a good set of colleagues at HBU, but with Tim who’s in the thick of things Pauline and also Chad Chambers here, we have a nice set of Pauline scholars around. Chad did his work at Duke and is now doing his PhD at London School of Theology part-time while here in Houston. He’s doing a participationist reading of Galatians, which you’ll know is near and dear to my heart. Good conversations all the way around.
The biggest aspect I noted about SWCRS was how much Baylor is the big dog on the block in these meetings. Their PhD students are by far and away the largest cohort, and they presented several very interesting papers. I had the pleasure of meeting several of them, a couple of whom came to Baylor out of Duke Divinity’s MTS program, and from conversations there appears to be an informal link between the two. I was surprised to see not much participation from SMU, TCU and the like.
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
As with most things this semester I’m about one step behind on getting things done, so here is a later-than-planned account of my SBL experience this year.
The greatest highlight for me was the publication of my thesis with Mohr Siebeck: Christosis: Pauline Soteriology in Light of Deification in Irenaeus and Cyril of Alexandria. I got the proof-ready copy in right at the deadline, and there were reportedly some printing issues that might have delayed its arrival, but to Mohr’s credit they had several copies available at the display. I was even asked to sign a couple of copies, which was unexpected to say the least. Now the waiting game for reviews.
I also experienced the academic highs and lows associated with writing. As a high, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Edith Humphrey’s paper on 2 Cor 5.21 (Manifest in the Body: Deeds, Sin, Righteousness and Glory), which interacted with the pdf copy of my thesis on Durham’s website. (By the way, the printed edition fills in a few gaps and adds additional material in a few places.) Her interest in my work is not surprising, but it is always nice to have someone interact with it. After the session I went to have coffee my good friend Nijay Gupta, who is the Associate Editor of the new Journal of Paul and His Letters. He showed me a copy of the most recent issue, which has an article about Romans 3:23. Since one of my only publications to date is an article about glory in Romans 3:23 in JSNT, I thought this article might interact with my arguments. After a quick perusal through it, I didn’t see my name. Through this I learned a lesson that disagreement is not the worst thing for an author to face; the worst thing is being ignored. This is not to cast aspersions on the JSPL article since my article came out just last year, but it was a lesson in the lows that come with the highs from participation in the academic game.
I gave a paper this year in the Paul and Politics section: ‘Paul and Empire in Light of the Acts of Paul‘. I don’t frequent that section, but I had some new evidence for them to consider. Using Wright and Barclay’s debate as a proxy for larger discussions, I tried to situate the Acts of Paul, and particularly the Martyrdom of Paul which is the final section of the Acts, within this dispute. While I started more on the Barclay side of things, I found myself working towards the middle since there are aspects of this second century reception of Paul (and possibly his letters) that supports both sides of the argument. I didn’t add much new to the debate, but I think I won novelty points, which is often difficult to do in NT studies.
Of course, the best part of SBL is meeting up with old friends and making new ones, and this conference was as successful in that area as any other. Now I just need to think of a paper for next year…