I had a great time in Rome last week.  The department had some postgrad money available, and so they offered postgrads bursaries if they presented papers at conferences.  This additional money made it economical to take the family along with me. 

While we saw lots of sights, we also got to spend some good time with friends.  We shared the trip with Kevin and Ashley Hill.  Kevin you will know from his Courting the Mystery blog.  They have been good neighbors over the past 2 years and good friends.  Unfortunately the call of the wild back to Calgary is too strong, so we’ll miss them when they move home this summer.  So this trip with them was a great way to spend some time, plus they had been to Rome before and therefore had many good ideas.

We also met up with old college friends Justin and Jill Hardin.  Justin’s teaching at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and is world famous for his Galatians and the Imperial Cult.  Their apartment at the Irish College had a pool, and we accepted their gracious invitation to partake of it with them and to share dinner with them.  They have some great kids, and it was one of the best parts of the trip.

So the initial reason I went was to give my paper Righteousness and Glory: New Creation as Immortality in Romans.  I think it went well.  Here in the office we have been debating about how fast to give a paper, and it was confirmed to me that 110-120 words per minute is what I have to target for.  Others here said they go with up to 150 wpm, but I start to get jumbled with that kind of pace.  Unfortunately, my fellow presenters in the session had no awareness of their paper length, and a couple of them before me went 10 minutes over their alloted 25.  Thus, when I finished in about 21 min with time for questions, the presider said that even though we had an allotted 30 min break (now only 10 min) there was no time for questions for me!?!  He didn’t cut off the people that rudely and selfishly went over but rather the person that fell within the limits?  I’ve not seen this situation before at previous SBLs, and since it was my first SBL presentation, I just let it go.  But thinking back now, I should have said something.  Ultimately, the presider should have cut the other people off at their time limit, as I heard that others did in other sessions.  Fortunately, when I presented this paper in a different venue I had plenty of time for questions and got some good feedback that helped me better nuance the argument.  I also attended the Bible Interpretation in Early Christianity section, where Kevin did a fine job on his paper on Anthanasius’ interpretation of Hebrews 6.4.  It’s incouraging to see the inclusion of historical interpretation in the plan, and hopefully it will gain a larger following.

As far as sightseeing, Rome is quite the place to visit.  It was a bit warmer than here in Durham, but it’s nice to get some sun.  The city is quite walkable, and the numerous public water fountains are great for refilling water bottles.  The real fountains, the churches, the ancient sites–nothing compares to this.  I’ve spent a bit of time in London, Berlin, and Paris and none of these have anything on Rome.  I’d say the highlight of the trip was St. Peter’s.  Hopefully I’ll get around to posting a few pics.