Since I had much more steam by the time of SBL/AAR, I was able to hit the seminars with normal vigor.  The Pauline sessions kicked off first thing on Saturday.  I knew John Barclay, my supervisor, was a chair of these sessions, but I didn’t realize how respected he was in the wider Pauline studies world, especially since a lot of his main work has been in Judaism in late antiquity.  But after seeing him respond to presenters and them respond to him, I became very much more aware of his prominence (I’m not sure if that’s the correct term, but can’t think of a better one).  With his great personality, this just made me that much more happy about being in Durham.

The sessions weren’t that great or earth shaking the first couple of days, but with my relatively limited Pauline background, it they were helpful to give me a better picture of current studies.  One thing that impressed me was the dependence upon the biblical texts for argumentation and responses.  Being from a conservative background, the impression that had been passed down is that people at more “liberal” venues were driven at times by presuppotions than the text.  But I constantly saw all the discussions going back to the text, and was glad for that. 

The Paul Section, which was the last session on Monday, was by far and away the best.  All five papers were thought provoking and engaging.  Too bad that there wasn’t more time for discussion.  Here were the presenters…Mark Goodacre (Duke University), John Taylor (Southwestern Baptist Seminary), Kathy Barrett Dawson (Duke University), Benjamin Schliesser (Tübingen, Germany), and James Ware (University of Evansville).  I found B. Schliesser’s paper the most engaging based on both his argument and his humor.  He argued for seeing more of a both/and view of Paul’s theology rather than either/or with regard to righteousness, pistis christou, and participation.  I also caught the latter portion of Michael Gorman’s paper on Tuesday morning, who incidentaly brought up the idea of Theosis in Paul.  Although, he got hammered on his views of agency in regards his co-crucifixion with Christ idea. 

People and meals were also important here as at ETS.  I had a couple of dinners with David Wilkinson and Andi Smith, who go to our church here.  David is the principle of St. John’s College at Durham and a well-known speaker and writer in the area of science and theology–he’s got phd’s in both areas.  Andi is another phd student like me.  I met John Edwards who is another DTS student who is looking at coming to Durham.  He’s an intern under Darrell Bock at DTS and I got to meet him and chat with them for a good bit one evening.  The Durham reception on Monday evening was enjoyable, and hopefully I helped convince a few people to come.  To finish up the conference I had lunch with John Barclay and Francis Watson (Aberdeen).  I was also able to catch up with Justin Hardin, a friend from our days at Ouachita Baptist Univ. who is now teaching at Oklahoma Bapist Univ. after finishing at Cambridge. 

All in all, it was a good conference and it was definitely helpful for me to expand my intellectual horizons.  I also picked up several books, and I’ll add more about that soon.  I just got finished watching the Cowboys beat the Giants to move solidly ahead in the NFC East division, so I can go to bed with happy dreams.

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