Saturday, September 04, 2004

BNTC 2004 highlights

Next on to some personal highlights. The academic high point for me was Bart Ehrman's paper on the Friday afternoon. This was the second of the three plenary papers. Its title was something like "The divine man in texts canonical and apocryphal" but the bulk of the paper was the exposition of a thesis about a proto-Luke, or a first edition of Luke, in which the Christological profile was adoptionistic. Although he balked somewhat at the term "proto-Luke", no doubt because of the baggage it carries with it, his argument was that the Birth Narratives were added after the first edition of Luke in a bid to bring it more clearly into conformity with emerging proto-orthodox views. At the same point, other parts of Luke were adjusted, including famously the baptismal "this day I have begotten thee", to bring it into conformith with Matthew's and Mark's "in whom I am well pleased". I was not entirely persuaded by the paper -- the idea of a bolted on Luke 1-2 suffers in the same way that it did in Streeter and Taylor's proto-Luke -- Luke 3.1 looks like it does not because it is the original beginning of the book but because it is the point at which Luke really can be as precise as he would like to be about dating. He has a rough idea of when Jesus was born, some time around the end of Herod the Great's reign, near-ish the time when Quirinius was governor of Syria, but he is not going to miss the chance to date things properly when he comes to the point when he can pull this off in 3.1. But it was the kind of the paper that got the imagination going, lucidly presented, and with the kind of liveliness that ensures you hear every word.

Socially, the high point of the conference was the Friday evening, after Bart's paper, when we piled onto two coaches to go from Pollock Halls, which were the primary location for the conference, to New College where the Department of Divinity and Religious Studies is based. We were given a short guided tour, a glass of wine and then a fine dinner in an impressive old dining hall. I ended up drinking red wine with salmon because the white had all gone by the second course, but that was forgiveable in such a lovely setting and with such good food and service.

To be continued . . .

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