I enjoyed two excellent papers last week, as the NT Research Seminar started up again here in Durham. There has been an attempt to include more research students this year, and the first papers were by two of them: Lionel Windsor and Wesley Hill, both third-years supervised by Prof. Francis Watson. Both papers looked at aspects of Romans. Lionel’s project focuses on Paul’s identity through the perspective of his vocation as a Jew. In this light, Paul’s missionary activity, for example, can be seen as a fulfilment of his Jewish calling: ‘providing God’s revelation to non-Jews’. Lionel offered a reading of Romans 2:17-29 from this viewpoint, raising issues about the Law and making the interesting suggestion, among others, that the setting imagined by the text was the synagogue. Wes’ thesis is equally ambitious, seeking to ground Paul’s Christology in the ‘matrix of trinitarian relationships’. In other words, the ‘place’ of Christ cannot be understood apart from the relationships with Father and Spirit. He sought to demonstrate this by reference to Romans 4, and in particular, that Paul is reading the example of Abraham through the relationship between God and Jesus, and that God raised Jesus provides a hermeneutic for reading the Abraham story.

For those who are interested, the rest of the term’s seminars are below.

17 October                  Dr Benjamin Schliesser (University of Zurich), “The Dialectics of Faith and Doubt in Paul and James”

24 October                  Prof René Bloch (University of Bern), “Who was Philo of Alexandria? Tracing autobiographic passages in Philo”

31 October                  Dr Simon Gathercole (University of Cambridge), “The Religious Outlook of the Gospel of Thomas

7 November                Prof John Barclay, Paul and the Gift  (book preview)

14 November              Dorothee Bertschmann, “The Good, the Bad, and the State: What is the meaning of to agathon in Romans 13.1-7?”

Leonard Wee: “Features in Paul’s Summaries of OT Historical Narratives”

28 November              Prof Lewis Ayres, “Grammar, Polemic and the Development of Patristic Exegesis 150-250”

5 December                 Dr Eddie Adams (King’s College London), “Were the Pauline Churches House Churches?”

12 December               Prof Francis Watson, Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective (book preview)