Saturday, September 13, 2008

Travel Diary: Minneapolis, Saturday

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.


Frank McCoy said...

For about the first fifteen minutes of your first lecture, you sounded to me like a character in a Dr Who episode, then I mentally adjusted to the British accent and by the first break I wasn't normally even consciously aware of you speaking with an accent. I am one of the elderly who were present--being 66. Few from Great Britian immigrate here, so to hear British English is a bit unnerving at first. Next time you're in Mpls, just remember to say "Ya shur" when you agree with someone and "Uffdah" when you disagree--and mention lutefisk at least once in any lecture--and people will soon be mistaking you for a native Minnesotan.

Three things about your lectures really impressed me. First was how well you could expound without reading a text. Second was how you defined and explained certain technical terms in a way readily understood by a layperson. Third was the general accuracy of your restatement of a question asked of you and the adequacy of your response to the question.

Overall, the lecture was excellent and I have only three quibbles. First, I thought I heard you say that "Christ/Messiah" is not found
in the Epistle of James, but perhaps I didn't hear right. It is found in James 1:1, 2:1. Second, and again I perhaps didn't hear right, but I got the impression that, you argued, it was High Priests who governed Judea from Cyrus to Herod the Great. But weren't the Hasmoneans not just High Priests, but Kings as well, combining the two offices in one person? Third, I was dissapointed to hear no mention of Flight and Finding 108-11, where Philo, commenting on Lev 21:10ff (where the High Priest is called the Christos in the LXX), identifies this figure with the Logos as God's Viceroy (although he does not explicitly call the Logos the Christ, he does state that he has been annointed (kerchristai) with oil--which is, in effect, to say he is the Christ.

In any event, I was the one who, near the end of your last lecture period, asked you the question about Mt 3:7-10//Lk 3:7-9. I was glad I went, not just because I learned some things from your lectures, but because I was finally able to connect your name with a face and a voice.

Mark Goodacre said...

Hi Frank. Thanks for your comment. Fancy your being there! I would have liked to have met you properly afterwards. Perhaps next time.
Thanks for coming along. Thanks too for your kind words. I can't imagine what I was thinking re. James. Put it down to fatigue at a lot of speaking. Thanks for the interesting comment re. Philo and the Hasmoneans -- excellent observations.