Monday, September 05, 2005

THE BRITISH NEW TESTAMENT CONFERENCE: I'm not going to try to blog the whole conference from beginning to end. Instead, I'll just note some interesting things that I heard along the way. I'm including just a few photos here that came out tolerably well.

Liverpool Hope University promised us a new dorm to stay in, and indeed it was:

As you can see, construction on the Wesley Dormitory was not quite finished when we arrived, but the rooms were generally in good working order and the construction machinery noise started late enough and was far enough from the main events that it was not a distraction.

Dr. Darrell Hannah and I chaired the NT & Second Temple Judaism seminar. The first presenter (Friday) was Dr. Grant Macaskill, who argued that, although it is possible that 2 Enoch originated as or descends from a Jewish Urtext of the first-century CE, the case has not yet been persuasively made.

In the second session Darrell and I each gave short papers. Darrell made a case that that the Similitudes of Enoch can be dated securely in the first century BCE based on references in chapter 67.

I (above) argued that the Testament of Abraham is most naturally understood as a Christian composition from the fifth century CE or earlier and that any Jewish Urtext behind the two surviving recensions, if it ever existed at all, has been so throughly reworked that it is now irrecoverable.

In the third session (Saturday morning) Dr. Todd Klutz gave a paper on the Testament of Solomon which is difficult to summarize, but he took the position that something like an original Solomonic exorcistic handbook was updated with an account of Solomon's downfall (in the genre "rewritten scripture") which aimed to undermine the authority of the Solomonic incantations. He also tied the name of one of the demonic characters in the work (Ephippas) to ancient inscribed stone amulets pertaining to Solomon.

In the second plenary session (Friday evening) Professor Christopher Rowland gave a fascinating account of William Blake's drawings and paintings with biblical subjects. I had not known that Blake had read the book of 1 Enoch, but it seems that he had and he produced engravings based on themes in this book. You can find small images of a couple on Enochic subjects at the Biblical Art on the WWW site.

I was also at the late evening whiskey event mentioned by Sean the Baptist.

The third plenary session (Saturday morning) was also given by Darrell Hannah, who is currently on a research fellowship at Oxford, where he is preparing a critical edition of the Coptic and Ethiopic versions of the Epistula Apostolorum.

Darrell argued that this work probably knew all four canonical Gospels and it was composed by 140-150 CE. I found his presentation particularly exciting because in it he alerted me to two quotations of "the prophet" in the Epistula Apostolorum which may be of lost Old Testament pseudepigrapha.

Many thanks to Ursula Leahy and Kenneth Newport for organizing and running the conference, a much larger job than it appears. The food and drink were good, the accommodations were new (at least for those of us in Wesley), and there was an excellent program with lots of intellectual stimulation. Moreover, Ken kindly rescued my conference pack for me when I carelessly left it in the locked-up Chaplaincy (which had been converted to an impromptu donation-only bar). And on very short notice Ursula recruited her colleague David Torevell to drive Helen Bond, Louise Lawrence, and me to the rail station when our taxi failed to show (or got snapped up by someone else). Bless them all.

Michael Pahl has collected the other accounts by bloggers of this year's BNTC.

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