As well as the usual meetings of different kinds, I went to the session on Paul and Empire featuring John Barclay and Tom Wright. This was the academic highlight of the conference. John Barclay gave an excellent paper, all the better for being completely convincing. He argued, essentially, that Paul was not particularly concerned with the Roman empire except in so far as it instantiated the darker forces of this present evil age. The really memorable image was one constructed around the Emperor's New Clothes. In contrast to those who see a naked emperor running all over the pages of the New Testament, Barclay said that he saw no emperor. (Wright attempted a riposte about the emperor being so heavily clothed that people could not see how the clothes were standing up, but it was weak). I thought Tom Wright's response was not one of his better performances . Indeed, I think it was the closest I have seen to his being quite flustered. He spoke from his laptop, and he was updating his talk as Barclay spoke, but there was little he could say that would help him to answer so strong and persuasive a presentation. I hope that Barclay publishes soon.
I was speaking in the Q section, next. It was the first time I had been invited to speak to the Q section, though I once spoke as the result of having a proposal accepted back in 1999. The topic of the session was Mark-Q overlaps and I have blogged the substance of my paper here in a series of six posts (Mark-Q Overlaps) here over the last few weeks. Although I was pleased with the substance of my paper, I was less pleased with my presentation. I think I underestimated how tough it is to convey statistical information clearly, and in retrospect I think a powerpoint presentation may have helped; or perhaps more information still on my handout. Speaking of the handout, I must remember to upload it to the blog. (Please remind me if I forget). Having thought a good deal about the issues, and having discussed them a bit at the SBL, I think it will be a good idea for me press ahead with publication on the extent of verbatim agreement issue. I think there is a strong argument here for the Farrer Theory that has not been put forward before.
The other speakers in the session were Harry Fledderman and Linden Yongqvist. Linden summarized the views of Dennis Ronald McDonald, who was sitting in the audience. At one point, he showed the audience the manuscript of a book on "Q+", which was the theme of his talk. "Q+" is Q but with lots more stuff in it than just the double tradition. Occasionally McDonald would himself contribute. Harry Fledderman's paper focused on John the Baptist's preaching in Mark and Q, and gave reasons for believing that Matthew's and Luke's independence, and Mark's knowledge of Q. Unfortunately, Timothy Friedrichsen was unable to be there, so there were just the three speakers. We all responded to one another's papers and there was also some discussion from the floor. A lot of the discussion was broad discussion, i.e. defaulted to discussing the theories as a whole rather than focusing specifically on the papers themselves.
I was unable to stay for the Tuesday morning and began my journey fairly early on, flying from San Diego to Phoenix, where I picked up the story back on Tuesday lunchtime.