Sunday, September 05, 2004

BNTC 2004 further reflections

The two other main papers were Bishop Tom Wright on the Thursday evening and Prof. Judith Lieu on the Saturday morning. Bishop Tom spoke on "Many perspectives on Paul: Can they be integreated" and was at his most entertaining when he launched a vociferous attack on a recent book by Stephen Westerholm, about which he had not a good word to say. There were lots of other interesting bits in Tom's talk but I struggled with it a little, primarily because my all too regular habit of drifting off to sleep in even the most interesting papers kicked in half-way through. I also slept through almost all of the first seminar papers session on the Friday morning, and half of Judith Lieu's on the Saturday, when I simply had to find a place to lie down (cf. earlier comments on extensive dashing around). Judith Lieu's paper was about Orality and Textuality in early Christianity.

Bishop Tom was also present at the first two meetings of the Jesus Seminar (not the Jesus Seminar, of course, but the BNTC's own Jesus Seminar) where the topic was his book The Resurrection of the Son of God. Although I missed most of the first session through fatigue, I stayed awake all the way through the second at which the focus was on the New Testament material and included responses to Wright's book from James Crossley and Larry Hurtado, both of whom made some good poins. It was a well attended seminar too. Larry began his paper by pointing out that Tom's work is essentially apologetic. I thought that right and asked a question about this later on, concerning the way that Tom deals, in the book, with Matt. 27.51-3, where the saints are raised at the earthquake at the death of Jesus, where Tom's argument strikes me as more apologetic than history, not least given its weak remarks to the effect that odd things do happen in history. Of course they do, but the question is whether this particular odd thing happened and whether placing a question mark over its historicity might actually help Tom out when it comes to arguing for the historicity of the resurrection traditions. Tom's answer was that if he were to acknowledge redaction and legend here, then his opponents would say, "The why not everywhere", which strikes me as weak. He went on to claim that his arguments have been crafted by the kind of dialogue partners he has had to engage with, and a particularly silly (he used that word) period in North American scholarship.

More later . . .

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