Saturday, September 04, 2004

I'M HOME. Got in late this afternoon. I'll try to post some thoughts on and photos of the conference in the next day or two.

UPDATE: Jeepers. Mark Goodacre started blogging the conference from the Edinburgh airport (here and here). The Ehrman lecture was the academic high point for me as well. One comment on it: the sentence that stuck with me the most was something along the lines of "Texts rarely constrain readings; they more often enable them." This is a good point. Adoptionists, Gnostic, and orthodox Christians could all read the Gospel of Luke and get their own theology out of it (perhaps in part because Luke wasn't himself a very systematic thinker). But texts do, of course, constrain readings in some ways too. The path that gets readers to the place they want can be straight and narrow, or winding and full of brambles, and, especially in the latter case, it can lead to all sorts of interesting side paths and dead ends. One can watch this happening in, say, New Testament exegesis of the Jewish scriptures or in rabbinic midrash. (I'm not disagreeing with Bart's statement, just drawing out other aspects of the problem.)

I suppose Friday evening was the social high point too: the banquet included reminiscenses by Graham Stanton and Jimmy Dunn of the founding of the BNTC. We were told that its conception was in 1978, its birth in 1979, and the first meeting in 1980, hosted by Paddy Best in Glasgow. It was conceived as an annual conference for British New Testament scholars, but not as a "society," so as not to give the appearance of competing with the Society for New Testament Study (SNTS), which is an international society that also meets annually somewhere in the world. (I think I have these details right.) This explains the curious phenomenon that one never joins or pays dues to the British New Testament Society, you just pay the registration fee for the British New Testament Conference if you want to come to it. Jimmy Dunn also commented, tongue firmly in cheek, that the BNTC demonstrated a classical evolution from a charismatic movement to a smoothly running institution with officers, a president, a secretary, a treasurer, and a website.

Another highlight of the evening was during the pre-banquet tour of New College, when Jimmy gave a glorious impromptu reading of the first page of a sermon by John Knox, which was on display. Then after the banquet some of us walked back to the dorms, which were some distance away, and made our way to the pub. And I recall (not too clearly) after that an evidently lengthy episode in Lloyd Pietersen's room with an improbably large number of people and three bottles of whiskey.

The weather for the conference, incidentally, was beautiful. Especially today, which was a proper summer day. And I met lots of interesting people, including a promising crop of postgraduate students from various institutions.

More presently. Rest now.

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