This is my first ever visit to Minneapolis. At first sight, the city reminds me a bit of Seattle, which we visited last year (Travel diary). I am staying close to Westminster Presbyterian Church where I am speaking this weekend at an event co-sponsored by Luther Seminary and United Theological Seminary. There were 120 or so attending, and I am always impressed by those willing to give up a Saturday to listen to someone talking about the New Testament. I know that I am pretty loathe to give up my Saturday morning lie-in unless I really have to. The topic was "Who do you say that I am? The History of Jesus as Messiah", a title worked out in consultation with Kathy Michael, associate pastor at the church and the main organizer of the event. It arose from a series of lectures I gave earlier this year at the BAS event in Fort Lauderdale, "Monarch or Messiah? The King of Jewish Expectation and the Christ of the New Testament", itself developed from the Logos Lecture I gave in June 2007, "Did Jews in Jesus' day expect the Messiah?" The focus is my ongoing research on messianism in Second Temple Judaism and how an understanding of that material helps us to revise the way we look at Christian origins and the New Testament.
They worked me hard but made me welcome. Instead of the four lectures over two days I gave in Fort Lauderdale, here I gave three lectures in a 9-3 event, but with plenty of opportunity for questions and discussion, and breaks for coffee and lunch. I found those who came knowledgeable, interested and full of good questions and comments (as well as the odd, expected idiosyncratic contributions from two or three). Perhaps the greatest surprise, though, was the extent to which some present struggled to understand my British accent. Several people commented that they could not catch everything I was saying. It is true that when animated I do speak a little quickly, and I suppose I am going to have to work harder in future, especially with this kind of audience, to slow down a little. I have been lecturing at Duke for three years now and I often ask if they are able to catch everything I am saying, but they are just a bit too polite to tell me otherwise. It may also be an age-related issue since those who struggled to understand me were a little elderly.
The 3pm finish gave me a chance to get a nap in before we headed out for a fantastic dinner at a superb restaurant called Nicollet Island Inn. They are looking after me very well.