Friday, September 30, 2005

Where are the female (biblio)bloggers?

Ed Cook asks, "Why are there so few female bibliobloggers?" and Jim West and Joe Cathey reflect further on the question. With his typical, get-up-and-go attitude, Jim even suggests Amy-Jill Levine (good choice) and provides us with her reasons for not devoting time to blogging (she's doing something useful with her life, visiting prisons, etc.).

Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, and the ones that spring to mind are Helenann Hartley and Jenee Woodard, with apologies to those I have missed. The male-dominated biblioblogdom is in part a reflection of the sadly male-dominated academy, but that is not the whole picture. One might add that the world of e-lists is likewise male-dominated. Just look at lists like Xtalk. Month in, year out, it is 95 per cent and more male dominated. Is there something about the combination between the male-dominated academy and the nerdy, geeky male electronic world, that makes the computer academy particularly prone to this? I hate to get into something that sounds horribly like gender-stereotyping, but I can't help thinking that many of the men I know are more given to obsessive behaviour than are many of the women I know. And let's face it, the blogs that work are written by obsessives. To be a successful blogger, there has to be an element of obsessiveness / addiction, no? My hand is up. And incidentally, how many bloggers are out there visiting prisons, like Amy-Jill Levine? I wish my hand was up for this one, but I am sorry to say that it is not.

Update (Saturday, 21.53): Loren Rosson comments helpfully.

Mariam, the Magdalen, and the Mother

While updating my Scholars: G page (see previous post), I came across this new book, with its associated web page:

Mariam, the Magdalen and the Mother, Deirdre Good

The web page gives details of a new book from Indiana University Press on Mariam, the Magdalen, and the Mother, a "collection of essays exploring the religious and prophetic identity of Mary Magdalen(e) and Mary, Jesus' Mother as Miriam figures". Congratulations on the publication, Deidre.

Sigurd Grindheim and Scholars: G

I've updated my Scholars: G page with reference to the following new page:

Sigurd Grindheim

Prof. Grindheim is at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois and his web page is well worth a visit, with a bio, some links, and publications details and information, including links to on-line reproductions of articles.

While on the page, I noticed I needed to update my own entry (not least in that Birmingham's Dept of Theology seemed to be off-line, so the automatic forwards I set up to my pages before leaving were not working; it is frustrating to see how often Birmingham is off-line), and found new URLs also for Mark Given and Judith Gundry-Volf. There is also some new information in Deirdre Good's new book, but that is worth blogging separately.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Craig Keener on 1-2 Corinthians

Thanks to Tracey McCluskey at Cambridge University Press for letting me know about a new book from Craig Keener:

1–2 Corinthians
Craig Keener
This commentary explains 1 and 2 Corinthians passage by passage, following Paul's argument. It uses a variety of ancient sources to show how Paul's argument would have made sense to first-century readers, drawing from ancient letter-writing, speaking, and social conventions. The commentary will be of interest to pastors, teachers, and others who read Paul's letters because of its readability, firm grasp of the background and scholarship on the Corinthian correspondence, and its sensitivity to the sorts of questions asked by those wishing to apply Paul's letters today. It will also be of interest to scholars because of its exploration of ancient sources, often providing sources not previously cited in commentaries.
The PDF link above is a flyer with details including book cover.

Another day, another hotel

There's a bit of a blogging slowdown at the moment with another move, now our third hotel since arriving here last week. We were in the Best Western from Saturday until today and it was not at all bad, though the sofa-bed was so uncomfortable that we had to sleep with the mattress on the floor last night; and the wireless internet access continually switched itself off, which made my life in particular less happy. But our new hotel is by far the best yet and I hope we will be able to stay here until we move into our house in mid October; this one even has the luxury of a manager's special in the evening, with a free drink and appetizers -- this is a real treat. And a hot breakfast in the morning too to look forward to.

Meanwhile, I have taught my second class, and was interested today to discover that Noddy is not known in America, which made it less easy than I had expected to use my analogy for the evangelists' editorial fatigue which is based on the way that the Noddy TV series updated Enid Blyton's appalling use of "gollywog" to the inoffensive "goblin" but in the process ruined the ending of one of Blyton's stories (because gollywogs are made of cloth and goblins of wood) -- I can explain in more detail if anyone is interested.

It is still warm here, and everyone walks around campus in what I would think of as summer clothes. And our major new American experience of the day was our girls' first day at Elementary School, which seemed to go very well, and they are already picking up the lingo more quickly than we are, and are making friends and loving it all. Our minor new American experience of the day was scanning our own shopping at Food Lion, with a touch-screen control panel, and an electronic signature pad. And yes, it is a lot cheaper than Harris Teeter; fancy our having stumbled across the most expensive place first.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Cost of LNTS

On Biblical Theology, Jim West asks "why books in JSNTSup are so bloody high". I assume that Jim is referring to the price here. As the editor of the series, the publishing and marketing issues like cost are a little outside my area of expertise, but I would like to make two points:

(1) The volumes in the series that are only available in hardback are still available at a 50 per cent discount to individual scholars, so you should never pay the full price if ordering for yourself. Just make sure that you order direct from the T and T Clark website and ask for your 50 per cent off.

(2) We are trying to bring out more of the popular titles in paperback too, and the book that Jim mentions, James Crossley's Date of Mark's Gospel is a case in point, coming out in paperback earlier this year.

Incidentally, the series title, Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement (JSNTS or JSNTSup) has now been phased out, and is replaced by Library of New Testament Studies.

First class

On Paleojudaica, Jim Davila notes that St Andrews' classes start today. Likewise I see in my diary that term starts in Birmingham today, and it feels a bit odd not being there for the beginning of the academic year for the first time in a decade. But over here at Duke, I had my first class today, the first few weeks having been covered by Andrew Mbuvi. It's a first year class, or what we'd call a "Level 1" class in the UK, on the Introduction to the New Testament. Because of the set up here I have more time with the students, a longer semester (about 13 weeks against Birmingham's 10/11) and three hour long sessions a week rather than one two hour block. I rather like that -- it gives one much more scope to develop a theme with the class. When doing my Intro NT in Birmingham, I always had to cover the Synoptic Problem, for example, in the one two-hour session. Here I am able to cover it in four hour-long sessions, so it does not feel like we are dashing through it.

Today we looked at the data, the Synoptic Problem without prejudging anything by introducing solutions to the problem. One of my complaints about some introductions to the Synoptic Problem is that they in fact leap straight into solutions to the problem without first exploring all the interesting contours of the problem, and giving students some kind of itinerary, or even some feel for why it's worth studying. I was particularly struck by Raymond Brown's comment in his Introduction to the New Testament that many students will find the Synoptic Problem "complex, irrelevant to their interests and boring". I repeated those comments in class today, with some attempt to explain why I do not find it boring and why they too might find it worth the investment of time that is demanded.

In case you are wondering, I would like to say that it is an accident of timing that I have taken the Synoptic Problem as the topic for my first week of lectures here, but it is not. I thought when preparing the syllabus that it might be nice to begin lecturing here on something I would particularly enjoy.

My first impressions of teaching in America? Actually not that different from teaching in the UK. The class was bright, lively and engaged and many were willing to make useful and interesting contributions. The number in the class is a manageable 30 or so, a little less than I am used to, but not a lot less.

By the way, I am wasting less time now getting lost while driving to campus, and with a parking permit too, things are getting a little more civilized each day. Today was the coolest day since our arrival, but it was still warm enough to take a swim outdoors before some light rain this evening. North Carolina natives seem to regard the temperature as cooler now and apparently there were raised eyebrows in the mall today when my wife Viola bought a swimming costume (here called a "bathing suit") for our younger daughter in what is regarded as out of season, but the plus with this was that they were able to get a $25 costume for $5.

American English discovery of the day: the word "leaflet" is apparently not known. What we would call a leaflet would here be called a brochure.

Danuta's do's and don'ts

With SBL's Annual Meeting looming, Stephen Carlson recommends that everyone read Danuta's Do's and Don'ts on how to give a conference paper. It's entertaining but also very useful. The sad thing is that there will be papers at this year's SBL that do not begin to think about some of these common sense suggestions. I've read through the list myself to pick up some useful tips; there's definitely something for everyone. I need to pay attention to the "Do not digress . . ." directive. That takes a lot of discipline and self-control. Planned, useful digressions can be useful, but the unplanned ones can end up being self-indulgent time-wasters.

I like the following "do" too:
Arrive early enough in your lecture-room to familiarize yourself with the mise-en-scène. Make sure the mike works. Ditto audiovisuals, as required.
I remember chairing a session in San Antonio at which I arrived drenched from the pouring rain, with only 10-15 minutes to spare, and problems with the speakers' Powerpoints. Coming earlier might not have given me time to solve all the problems, but at least I would have been less flustered.

I would want to add that the Danuta's do's and don'ts assume the reading of a paper rather than the presentation of a paper. That's unsurprising since the majority of conference papers are read rather than presented, but in the light of that, let me add one of my own "do"s:
Remember that there is a major difference between writing an article that is designed to be read silently by an individual and writing a paper that is designed to be heard publicly by an audience. The literary prose appropriate for the read-article should be different from the spoken-prose that is appropriate for the publicly-heard-paper. In general, avoid long sentences, and especially sentences with long parentheses that the hearer will miss. Aim to be concise, punchy and coherent.
Or words to that effect. I think that this is my major objection to many conference papers -- what we are getting is something that is not appropriate for the occasion but is, rather, something that has been prepared for publication and getting read out without any modification whatsoever.

Review of Biblical Literature Latest

The latest from the SBL Review of Biblical Literature under the NT heading follows. This combines parts of the last two updates:

Aus, Roger David
My Name Is "Legion": Palestinian Judaic Traditions in Mark 5:1-20 and Other Gospel Texts
Reviewed by Craig Evans

Berder, Michel, ed.
Les Actes des Apotres: Histoire, récit, théologie: XXe congres de l'Association catholique française pour l'étude de la Bible (Angers 2003)
Reviewed by Ruben Dupertuis

Loader, William
Sexuality and the Jesus Tradition
Reviewed by Hennie Stander

Vermes, Geza
Scrolls, Scriptures and Early Christianity
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Vermes, Geza
Scrolls, Scriptures and Early Christianity
Reviewed by Thomas Kraus

Wiley, Tatha
Paul and the Gentile Women: Reframing Galatians
Reviewed by Thomas Kraus

Brooke, George J.
The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament
Reviewed by Joerg Frey

Brooke, George J.
The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament
Reviewed by Thomas Kraus

McGinn, Sheila E., ed.
Celebrating Romans: Template for Pauline Theology: Essays in Honor of Robert Jewett
Reviewed by Julia Fogg

Neyrey, Jerome H.
Render to God: New Testament Understandings of the Divine
Reviewed by John Mason

van de Sandt, Hubb, ed.
Matthew and the Didache: Two Documents from the Same Jewish-Christian Milieu?
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

van de Sandt, Hubb, ed.
Matthew and the Didache: Two Documents from the Same Jewish-Christian Milieu?
Reviewed by Stephan Witetschek

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Travel Diary 6: Supersize Me!

After our first weekend living in America, I feel a little like Morgan Spurlock in Supersize Me, though I'm happy to say that our diet has been more interesting and varied than his in that film; I just find that I eat so much more here, and less of the right things, and need to find ways of curbing this. We have had a friend to stay for the weekend, an old college friend from Oxford, so had the chance for some good recreation American-style, with a trip to the Buffaloe Lanes Bowling Alley (which was actually much more lo-tech than what we have been used to in Birmingham), and an afternoon at Adventure Landing in Raleigh, with go-carts, adventure golf (what we'd call "crazy golf") and lazer quest.

We had to move hotels yesterday because, well I don't want to say why; we were unhappy with the hygiene and cleanliness of the place. It was one of these cheap Extended Stay Hotels called Homestead Studio Suites; the advantage of them is that you get a kitchen with your hotel room, and the price is reasonable enough to make it viable in our kind of situation, while we await moving into our house. But there are two many downsides, and they'll get a stinker of a review from me. We did get a refund for one of our three nights there, and we are in a much better place now, if a touch more expensive. It even has a nice outdoor swimming pool so that we can exercise off those large American meals. Speaking of which, we had a fine taste of local cooking at a place called Don Murray's Barbecue and Seafood. Proper North Carolina cooking, with a buffet bar with heaps of barbecued meat and something called "hush puppies". In the UK a "hush puppy" is a kind of shoe, but here it is a kind of tasty deep-fried corn bread. I was embarrassed that I could not always understand our waiter's accent, and he was quite cross when he had to repeat, "Would y'all like menus?" But I love that culture of re-fills, and my coffee was refilled twice without my even asking.

Other interestingly new experiences included make-your-own waffles at our hotel in the morning. You pour your waffle mix into the waffle iron and it times the cooking. It was also nice to be able to catch the "season premiere" on ABC of the second series of Desperate Housewives tonight. So no more will we have to wait weeks and even months for the new shows to arrive in the UK. But that causes problems too; we are half-way through Lost on Channel 4 in the UK, but they are just starting season 2 here in the US.

I am at the point now where this has become less of a travel diary and has morphed into my observations on a new life in America, and perhaps the time has come now to wind it down and return to serious, academic style blogging. I am sure that it must be getting tiresome to read. But I have enjoyed doing this -- it's helped the process of transition and I have really enjoyed all the feedback and comments on the beginning of our great American adventure.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Travel Diary 5: Finding my Office

There is a good reason for the lack of pictures here, for which apologies. It seems I didn't bring the lead to my digital camera with me, but at some point I'll try to liven up the text with some pictures and conversation. And I suppose I will have to stop calling this a "travel diary" soon because North Carolina is to be my home for the foreseeable future. At the moment, though, I'm in that transitionary period where I am just beginning to find my feet here, but it still doesn't feel like it's permanent. We are, after all, still living in a residence inn and will be for some weeks yet. Speaking of which, we re-visited our new house today and began to get a feel for what we would like to put where. We will close on the house (you see I am getting used to the American jargon) in mid October if all goes well, but the main barrier at this point is waiting for the social security number to come through.

I had a little more success with finding Duke today and I wasted much less time driving up and down and round and round. I parked in the multi-storey car park by the chapel, which at $2 an hour makes the University of Birmingham's 90p a day look like a real bargain, especially as there is really no choice here but to drive everywhere. I went into the Department of Religion and met several of my new colleagues again, and got all sorts of important things done, like getting a snazzy new ID card, which really makes you feel part of the place, and a parking permit for Campus Drive which will make things substantially cheaper than the multi-storey visitors' car park.

Although now my third time on campus (after March interviews and presentation and July visit), I'm now getting to see the place properly. Forgive my enthusiasm, but it's a superb campus with a great feeling. It has that excited "buzz" that I remember from Oxford towards the beginning of term. The glorious sunshine on this first day of "the fall" is really new to me, though. University sunshine and heat means May hayfever and examinations, yet here we are towards the beginning of term and there's no autumn chill in the air.

I entered my new office for the first time and I am very happy with it. It has a nice sloping roof on one side, plenty of room for books when they arrive in a few weeks, a small table and a couple of chairs, and a curved desk with a view out of the window. My new computer arrives on Monday. My office is Bruce Lawrence's former office, and Bruce has moved into Ed Sanders's, just down the corridor. I am opposite Richard Hays's office, so hope to pick up some good NT ambience. The physical relationship of the Dept of Religion and the Divinity School is an interesting one in that the offices of members of each entity are spread across the three floors of the Gray Building with no physical separation.

Tonight we had another great American experience, going to the cinema. But of course it is not called the cinema here; indeed, I noticed that when we were directed to our screen, we were told to go to the "theater" at the end of the corridor. It's not my first American cinema experience; I've been to two Bond films when they have coincided with the SBL (Boston, 1999; Toronto, 2002), and we went to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when we were over here in July. Tonight was another Tim Burton film, The Corpse Bride -- a really interesting piece, but annoyingly I drifted off and missed the end. No sight of the new Pride and Prejudice anywhere. And very few at the cinema in Raleigh we went to, and on a Friday evening too. Don't Americans all go to the cinema all the time? Not in NC, it seems. Anyway, it was a bit cheaper than in the UK, the popcorn was ten times better (actually made on premises and not brought in ready-popped and polystyrene style by the sack like in the UK -- we have a lot to learn) and it will continue to be one of our most regular habits, no doubt about it.

Thanks for all the helpful comments. It turns out that others have struggled with the Durham roads; Harris (not Harold, sorry) Teeter is indeed at the expensive end of the market and that people don't mind this bending of NT Gateway blog rules to mark this major change in my life.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Travel Diary 4: Waking up in America

Thank you to everyone who has made encouraging and interesting comments in response to my previous blog post (Travel Diary 3: Arrival in North Carolina). With eleven comments, this is the second most commented upon post I've had here in over two years (and the most popular was my first announcing that I was going to move to America), which suggests that many do not mind the odd personal post that strays from the academic New Testament theme of the blog. I suppose that those who do mind can simply scroll on. And of course the travel diary is kind of relevant because my reason for being here is a move to a new post connected with the NT. Enough apology, more travel diary.

This morning we woke up in America. Jet lag doesn't affect me as badly as it seems to for many, perhaps because I have the gift of being able to sleep any time, anywhere, including when it is not particularly convenient or complimentary to others, e.g. during conference papers or church sermons. Our hotel provides a very small continental breakfast, which was essentially coffee and a bagel. I didn't get time for anything else until tonight, so was grateful for it.

The next few hours were a disaster. I tried to drive to Duke and got horribly lost. I must have driven 70 or 80 miles with multiple wrong turns. It is partly that I find it tough to navigate alone and partly that the roads are just not intuitive to a / this particular Brit. I missed my 9 a.m. appointment as a result, and only just made my 11 a.m. one. There are lots of things to do before I can be added to the payroll, let alone open a bank account or get a mortgage, but at least I am now on the road to these things. The key that will unlock many of these doors is the Social Security Number, but I am not allowed to apply for this until I have been in the country for ten days. I am hoping that it will come quickly after that point, not least because our house purchase will depend on it. And it was because of that that I had to drive back to North East Raleigh, where we are staying, in time to get to our realtor and mortgage advisor in Cary by 2. I managed the drive back from Duke this time in 45 minutes rather than 2 hours and felt an enormous sense of achievement. I didn't go wrong once. So I can do it -- I can master this extroardinary road system without getting lost or taking multiple wrong turns.

One of the pleasant surprises is just how warm it is in late September in North Carolina. It was 88F today, as hot as you'll ever get it on the best summer's days in the UK. Apparently 92 tomorrow. Now I can see why air conditioning is so important in American (or this part of American) cars and houses.

The day's second biggest challenge, after trying to drive to Duke without getting lost, was navigating our way round an enormous supermarket. I don't think I've ever been to a supermarket in the US before. We found one called Harold Teeter, I think. I have been keen to get lots of fresh fruit and salad and yoghurt because it is so easy to be eating all the wrong things when one goes out to eat here, and I was first delighted and then flummoxed to see the choice. But we now have lots of nice fresh ingredients and I feel better for having had the chance to buy and then prepare a good meal, including salad, seafood, fruit, soya yoghurt, chased down with some fine American beer (Sam Adams' Octoberfest). The quality and choice was simply fantastic at the supermarket, and it is something I will look forward to getting into in the coming months and years -- food and drink shopping is one of my favourite activities, and cooking and preparing food too. Price-wise, I thought Teeter's was on the expensive side. Even with the current good (for Brits) exchange rate, prices were coming out a little higher than the British equivalent (e.g $1.99 for an avocado), which surprised me given the much-hyped lower cost of living here. Perhaps it was just that supermarket. As with all these aspects of this adventure, I look forward to finding out how far these reflections change.

Once I've waded through the email backlog (one always builds up when I travel), I promise to get back to some proper, traditional NT Gateway blogging.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Travel Diary 3: Arrival in North Carolina

An enjoyable flight; I had a good sleep, read the whole of The Guardian (a pleasure I will only have on-line for the foreseeable future), watched about four episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond and read a little of Terence Mournet's Oral Tradition and Literary Dependency, which I am reviewing for JTS. We touched down at 4.20 pm, picked up our hired car, drove to our cheap hotel and had a nice meal at a place just around the corner called Perkins. I would guess that this is some kind of chain, but the food was good and it was remarkable value (half what we would pay in the UK) and friendly service. No beer, unfortunately, but it was good to taste my first root beer since arriving, with free refills, an American tradition I am going to enjoy. The kids are now in bed and so Viola and I both have a little computer time, so out comes the blogging machine.

I have found my camera so should be able to make some picture observations soon too. Some useful lessons on how to live in America have already been learnt, and we have only been here a few hours. First, a friendly fellow at the airport piled all our bags onto the shuttle that was to take us to the rental car place. I remembered that in the US you are supposed to tip everyone, so I took a stab and gave him $1.75, feeling very generous. A friendly lady from Miami explained to us on the bus that the going rate would be $1 a bag, so the ideal would have been $5 or more for our huge, heavy bags. Second, I have discovered that you cannot use the word "double", e.g. when spelling "Goodacre", "G, double o, d, a, c, r, e" etc., or "double 9" for 99 in a phone number and so on. Third, don't believe anything you are told on an internet site about a hotel you have booked into, even if you have it in writing. The kind of room we had reserved turned out not even to exist. But we don't know yet how long we will be living in this odd, interim state. We have had an offer accepted on a house here, and aim to close in mid October. In the mean time, I have a job to begin, and I go in to Duke first thing in the morning. My first class, though, will be next Monday, so I have a couple of days plus a weekend breathing space to do start doing all the other big things that need doing, social security number, school for the kids, bank, mortgage, car and more.

My clock is showing 3.04 am, so I suppose I had better get that adjusted back to 10.04 am, which sounds a whole lot more civilized.

Travel Diary 2: At London Gatwick

Safe arrival at about 10 pm last night at Gatwick Airport Travelodge; it is a wonderful thing to have left behind the exhaustion of the last few weeks and months of preparing to leave and at last to be en route. I dropped off the family at the North Terminal, dropped off the hired car at the South Terminal, returned to the North Terminal to check in and then a nice celebratory brunch at Garfunkels. We are now waiting for our American Airlines flight with not long to go. Luckily, I am a fan of flying. The thought of spending eight hours relaxing, reading, sleeping, eating, watching the telly and having food and drink brought to you is great; I've never understood why some people don't enjoy it. Next blog entry, I hope, will be from North Carolina, U.S.A.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Travel diary 1: Leaving Birmingham

Things have been quiet blog-wise because we have been packing up, giving away or throwing away all our earthly possessions and planning to leave Birmingham, England to move to North Carolina, USA. I had hoped to take a quick picture before leaving today to stick on the blog to mark the move, but we've accidentally packed the camera. We have a great deal to do when we arrive at the other end on Wednesday so I don't know how much time I'll have to blog, but of course the blogging machine goes with us in the hand luggage and it's my hope to get chance to continue my travel diary, if not to blog properly too. Meanwhile, it's a fond farewell to Birmingham, and the friends we've made here in what has been a happy and fruitful decade.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Nickelsburg Text Made Even Better!

This press release is from Fortress Press:
“George Nickelsburg has been at the forefront of scholarship on Second Temple Judaism for more than thirty years. No one knows this literature better than George Nickelsburg, and no one is more judicious in evaluating the scholarly literature. This revised edition of his classic textbook will serve students well for a generation to come.”

John J. Collins, Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale Divinity School

Nickelsburg Text Made Even Better By Extensive Updating

MINNEAPOLIS (September 16, 2005)—In the fully revised and expanded edition of Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishnah, George W. E. Nickelsburg introduces the reader to the broad range of Jewish literature that is not part of either the Bible or the later rabbinic works. This second edition thoroughly updates the text, notes, and bibliography of the first in light of recent scholarship, and augments the wealth of texts discussed with new introductions to the writings of Philo of Alexandria, Flavius Josephus, and the Greek Jewish Scriptures (the Septuagint), along with texts from the Apocrypha and Dead Sea Scrolls not discussed in the first edition. A new final chapter discusses “Texts of Disputed Provenance,” taking account of the latest scholarly discussions on ancient writings whose origin and character are debated. This new edition comes with an enormously helpful CD-ROM, including biblical citation hyperlinks to the NRSV, web links to primary documents, chapter summaries, discussion questions, and about 100 images of related sites and artifacts that help bring the texts to life.

“This well-written book provides excellent introductions to both the Jewish literature of the Second Temple period, written in various languages, and the history of the era. The general overviews of the historical background and the content analysis of many literary compositions are essential for an in-depth understanding not only of this literature but also of the background of early Christianity and, in a way, of civilization as a whole. . . . This is an excellent textbook for university and college courses.”
Emanuel Tov, J. L. Magnes Professor of Bible at the Hebrew University

"When Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishnah was first published in 1981 it quickly became a standard. Nickelsburg’s second edition is a thorough revision and reorganization that updates all of the bibliographies and substantially expands the treatment of Qumran documents. Lucidly written, this second edition offers a reliable and clear map of the complex and varied terrain of the literature of second Temple Judaism. Ideal for teaching purposes."
John S Kloppenborg, Associate Professor of New Testament at the University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto School of Theology

“George Nickelsburg has taken an authoritative text that has served us all so well for more than two decades and has performed the great service of updating and expanding it. Now the reader will find not only his judicious treatments of the latest scholarly studies but also coverage of more texts from the Qumran and other Second Temple literature. He has taken what was very good and made it even better.”

James VanderKam, John A. O'Brien Professor of Hebrew Scriptures at the University of Notre Dame

A terrific book made even better by this extensive updating. Nickelsburg is a superb guide to this wide body of texts, their literary forms and historical contexts, and why they matter for religious history. . . . Rarely does the same book provide both a foundational introduction for students to a field of inquiry and make significant contributions to advance that field. This book does just that.”

Margaret M. Mitchell, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature at the University of Chicago

“The re-edition of George Nickelsburg's introduction updates and expands an extremely valuable tool for the study of Jewish literature of the Second Temple Period. Nickelsburg carefully sets a wide range of literature within the complex political and social context of the history of Israel in this period. Nickelsburg deftly introduces the primary sources and the problems of their interpretation. He does so in magisterial dialogue with an impressive array of recent scholarship, which will provide a solid foundation for any students engaging in the study of this phase of Jewish life and letters.”

Harold Attridge, Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament and the Dean of the Divinity School at Yale University

George W. E. Nickelsburg is Emeritus Professor of Religion at the University of Iowa, where he taught for more than three decades. He is the author of seventy articles and several hundred dictionary and encyclopedia entries. Among his many works are I Enoch I (Hermeneia; 2001), Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins, and, with James Vanderkam, I Enoch: A New Translation

Format: Paperback with CD-ROM, 7” x 9.25”, 450 pp

ISBN: 0800637798

Price: $38.00

Format: Hardcover with CD-ROM, 7” x 9.25”, 450 pp

ISBN: 0800637682

Price: $58.50

Publisher: Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN

To order Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishnah, with CD-ROM please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the Web site at To request review copies or exam copies, or to discuss speaking engagements or interviews, please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or email

Thursday, September 15, 2005

OT in NT Seminar 2006

This notice is from Steve Moyise:
This year's OT in NT seminar will be held at St Deiniol's Library, Hawarden, North Wales, from April 6-8th. The seminar begins with dinner on the 6th (Thur) and ends after lunch on the 8th (Sat). The cost will be approximately £80 full board.

If you would like to offer either a full paper (45 mins) or short paper (30 mins) please send me a title and abstract (50-100 words) before Dec 1st 2005. If you would like to book a place, please email me and I will send you a booking form, which you can send direct to the conference centre (which now takes credit cards).

Previous programmes are available on my website, if you want to see what sort or seminar it is, and links to the centre, travel details etc. can be found there. Liverpool and Manchester airport are less than an hour away.

It is very much a working seminar, and we encourage Postgraduates as well as established scholars to particpate. Members of the seminar have contributed to three books, and a fourth has been commissioned:

The Old Testament in the New Testament (ed Moyise), JSNTSup, Sheffield 2000
The Psalms in the New Testament (ed Moyise & Menken), T & T Clark, 2004
Isaiah in the New Testament (ed Moyise & Menken), T & T Clark (Oct 2005)
Deuteronomy in the New Testament (2007)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Evaluating your department's website

On Deinde Paul Nikkel has an excellent post on Evaluating Departmental Websites, picked up from RogueClassicism and ultimately the Classics List. The posts are very much speaking my language. I frequently find myself amazed by the number of websites that don't do these basics, like putting your address, phone number and contact details upfront and prominent. I sometimes do a "click test" to determine how many clicks it takes me to find a departmental address or contact details. The ideal is 1 click, i.e it's on the front page, but often it's several clicks down the line. I think our departmental website in Birmingham satisfies most of the criteria on the list above, with the exception of RSS feeds. But I'd like to add that more important than RSS is the need for the site to be bang-up-to-date. I introduced a news section to our website and was constantly encouraging colleagues to contribute items, as well as to keep other elements of the site alive by providing information (until I stood down from running the site just over a year ago). The difficulty is that you have to be a real bully to get the information, and even then it's still like getting blood from a stone. I was frequently amazed by how far colleagues were uninterested in providing information on themselves, their teaching, their research projects and so on. What that means is that given academics' inertia, one requires an enthusiast who will write material for the apathetes, and there are not many departments that have such enthusiasts.

Google Blog Search

Thanks to Zeth Green for noting this new resource from Google:

Google Blog Search

It searches by date as well as relevance, so there is a strong recency factor on anything you search for. Could be useful. Take one current topic, for example, the term "biblioblogs" -- you get a bunch of recent, relevant posts.

What is a biblioblog?

On Novum Testamentum blog Brandon Wason asks "What is a biblioblog?". On the question of origins, he wonders whether it comes from Jim Davila or Stephen Carlson. The term in fact came from David Meadows of RogueClassicism and was for a long time resisted by bibliobloggers who were concerned that it might be confused with bibliography based blogs. Indeed several alternatives were considered, but none were quite as neat as Biblioblog, which ultimately prevailed.

Brandon suggests a definition he has worked on with Jim West:
A biblioblog is a weblog that focuses primarily on Biblical Literature, related fields, and occassionally [sic] contemporary events. It's [sic] purpose is to offer news, opinion, and conversation for those interested in the Biblical text. Biblioblogs occassionally refer to personal matter, but that is not the primary focus.
I would say that one can state it much more simply. They are:
Blogs which have a primary focus on academic Biblical Studies.
The "primary" implicitly makes clear that all the other stuff mentioned in the definition above (contemporary events personal matter, etc.) may be there to a lesser or greater degree in different blogs. I, for example, tend to avoid talking about contemporary events unless they are related in some way to academic New Testament studies, however much I might be tempted, while others speak at greater length about them. It's a question of style and personal preference and overall aim. I would also add that the word "academic" is especially important -- it makes clear that the subject matter is written by academics for academics and those who enjoy reading academic material. In other words, there is a focus on critical Biblical scholarship.

Google Scholar Advanced Search

TJ Sondermann notes On Google Scholar that "scope" has been added to the Advanced Search page on Google Scholar:

Google Scholar Advanced Search

As Sondermann notes, you get a feel for how science-biased Google Scholar is, but the chance to limit the searches at least to "Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities" is an asset. And Google Scholar is getting steadily more useful, it seems, each time one tries it.

Dave Black on-line

On Biblaridion, Bryan mentions Dave Black Online, a site I have visited before but tend to forget to go back to because of its lack of RSS feed. But it's nice to see a "Happy blogiversary" to me a couple of weeks ago (no permalink), especially as I'll be headed in that direction (North Carolina) before long. So any chance of an RSS feed, Dave, and then I can read your blog every day, and add it to my blogroll?

Australian Biblical Review Book Reviews

As promised, here are those Book Reviews from the Australian Biblical Review, the ones that pertain to the NT:

Brevard S. Childs
The Struggle to Understand Isaiah as Christian Scripture
Mark O'Brien

Bruce Chilton
Rabbi Paul: An Intellectual Biography
Nigel Watson

Frances Taylor Gench
Back to the Well: Women’s Encounters with Jesus in the Gospels
Elizabeth Dowling

Murray J. Harris
The Second Epistle to the Corinthians
Nigel Watson

David Instone-Brewer
Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context
Colin G. Kruse

William Loader
Sexuality and the Jesus Tradition
Nigel Watson

Judith McKinlay
Reframing Her: Biblical Women in Postcolonial Focus
Mark G. Brett

Donald P. Senior and Daniel J. Harrington
1 Peter, Jude and 2 Peter
Darryl W. Palmer

Bruce W. Winter
Roman Wives, Roman Widows: The Appearance of New Women in the Pauline Communities
Darryl W. Palmer

Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt
Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary
Colin G. Kruse

Australian Biblical Review latest

The latest edition of the Australian Biblical Review (Volume 53, 2005) will be sent out to subscribers in October, and the Table of Contents is now available (see news):

Brendan Byrne, "Paul and the Diaspora: Re-imagining Church with the Aid of Rahner and Harink": 1–12

Megan Warner, "Genesis 20–22:19: Abraham’s Test of Allegiance Wisdom as Saviour": 13–30

Robert Crotty, "The Literary Structure of the Binding of Isaac in Genesis 22": 31–41

Beverly Roberts Gaventa, "God Handed Them Over: Reading Romans 1:18–32 Apocalyptically": 42–53

Michael Trainor, "The Cosmic Christology of Colossians 1:15–20 in the Light of Contemporary Ecological Issues": 54–69

James S. McLaren, "The Census in Judea": 70–75

Book Reviews 76–96

As far as I am aware, there is no electronic availability for the journal as a whole, even for subscribers and institutional subscribers, but the Book Reviews are on-line in full text, and there are several of interest. I'll list those separately in due course.

Update (Thursday, 9.05): thanks to Brian Incigneri for getting in touch and clarifying an important detail -- I missed the news page which makes clear that the journal is to be sent out to subscribers in October; it is not available yet. I have adjusted the above entry accordingly.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

New University of Birmingham Brand and Website

For some time, the University of Birmingham have been working on a new "brand" and have spent thousands on its new look, which can be seen on posters, on the back of buses, in university prospectuses and print publications and now finally also on its website:

University of Birmingham

The essential idea of the new brand is to have a large "U" and a large "B" with a kind of facing square bracket effect around a choice picture and / or quotation. It is probably not overstating it to say that some are unenthusiastic about the new brand, especially in view of the huge amount invested in it.

My own feeling is that it does no harm to rework old looks, to think in fresh ways about how to market the university, and that in the current competitive climate in UK higher education, it is necessary to look at ways of attracting new students and investors by giving the impression of dynamism and enthusiasm. Having said that, my first impressions of the brand were mixed, and several months later they remain mixed. The idea of choice quotations and immediacy of impact work quite well, but other aspects of the brand are problematic. In particular, the general decision to drop the University shield, the main feature of the old brand, has left websites and print documents looking a little naked. The main page is allowed the luxury of a redesigned shield, but all other pages (e.g. here) have a naked top left with shield absent.

A related problem is the amount of white space on the new template, especially across the top of every page and on the right hand side. The pages look busy and are well populated with varieties of navigational strategies, yet every page has a huge excess of white space. I would raise a further question about the place of the "U" and the "B" on all the main pages -- it takes up so much space given the large header area that one only gets to the content at the bottom of each page. Moreover, the editable area on each page is very narrow and leads to pages in which only a fraction of the page is actually used for content. I am wary of a web design that results in 75 per cent of the page reserved for headers and navigational strategies, and 25 per cent for content.

Some encouraging features include a "Print/document view" on every page, and sensible, concise contact information at the bottom of every page -- it is remarkable how many university websites forget to include that -- along with some aspirations about accessibility, also good to see.

I am guessing that it will be some time before the departmental websites will get the full treatment. If I were still working on my own department's website, my hope would be that they have designed their new templates sensibly enough to be make the transition straightforward and in may cases automatic.

June 17 RBL

In comments, Tommy notes that I forgot to post the 17 June Review of Biblical Literature newsletter as it pertained to the NT, for which thanks and here it is to fill the gap:

Beale, G.K.
The Temple and the Church's Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God
Reviewed by Ron Fay

Brosend, William F. II
James and Jude
Reviewed by Tommy Wasserman

Denton, Donald L.
Historiography and Hermeneutics in Jesus Studies: An Examination of the Work of John Dominic Crossan and Ben F. Meyer
Reviewed by Michael Licona

Edgar, David Hutchinson
Has God Not Chosen the Poor?: The Social Setting of the Epistle of James
Reviewed by Matthias Konradt

Hartin, Patrick J.
A Spirituality of Perfection: Faith in Action in the Letter of James
Reviewed by Matthias Konradt

Jackson-McCabe, Matt A.
Logos and Law in the Letter of James: The Law of Nature, the Law of Moses and the Law of Freedom
Reviewed by Matthias Konradt

Linafelt, Tod, ed.
A Shadow of Glory: Reading the New Testament after the Holocaust
Reviewed by Jane Schaberg

Llewelyn, S. R., ed.
New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity: A Review of the Greek Inscriptions and Papyri Published 1986-87
Reviewed by Paul Elbert

Oldenhage, Tania
Parables for Our Time: Rereading New Testament Scholarship after the Holocaust
Reviewed by Luise Schottroff

Reichert, Angelika
Der Römerbrief als Gratwanderung: Eine Untersuchung zur Abfassungsproblematik
Reviewed by Heike Omerzu

Rhoads, David
Reading Mark, Engaging the Gospel
Reviewed by Ira Driggers

Klutz, Todd, ed.
Magic in the Biblical World: From the Rod of Aaron to the Ring of Solomon
Reviewed by René Bloch

Stuckenbruck, Loren T. and Wendy E. S. North, eds.
Early Jewish and Christian Monotheism
Reviewed by Nancy Calvert-Koyzis

Visa and travel latest

I often get queries about the latest on our move to North Carolina, and others who assume we are already there and send kind emails asking "What's the weather like in North Carolina?"; "Wish we were there too" etc. I have been loathe to post continual updates here, especially when there has been little to say other than "Still waiting", but now I do have a little more at last and so to celebrate it, a short narrative of the latest.

We were given an appointment for an interview at the US consulate in London on Friday and I spent much of last week preparing the fresh paperwork needed for that, driving to Worcester to get the necessary 2" by 2" visa photographs of the family, repeatedly phoning the consulate at £1.30 a minute to ask for advice and so on. We drove to Peterborough on Thursday so that my mother-in-law could look after the children while we took the train to London on Friday. Because the consulate had mistakenly only sent us three payment forms, we had to arrive in Grosvenor Square two hours early to pick up a fourth. We went to a bank in Park Lane to pay the £240 fee, and returned to the consulate to begin our long wait for our interview. Knowing that it would be a long wait, I had my little Test Match Special radio with me but alas, it was taken off me at the door. So I read Terence Mournet's Oral Tradition and Literary Dependency and slept instead. After three hours, we were seen by someone who looked a bit like John McEnroe, and he informed us that our visas had been approved and our passports would be returned to us this week. We retired to a pub around the corner to celebrate and the beer tasted particularly good.

Term began over two weeks ago at Duke, but now I am confident that I should be able to be there before mid term. Before travelling, we have one or two farewell dos still to go. I had a nice send off from work last Wednesday, along with my colleague Philip Seddon who is also leaving. It was a strange mixture of hellos and goodbyes, with Philip Burton having arrived to take up his new post in Birmingham facilitated by the departure of Philip Seddon and me, and Michael Pahl (of Stuff of Earth fame) arriving from Candada for a nine month stay in Birmingham just the evening before. Like Michael Strickland before him, Michael Pahl is an Anglo-file, too and I am sorry that this Americano-phile only overlaps with him for this short period.

Why post the RBL newsletter?

Ken Ristau asks:
So why do so many bibliobloggers post the RBL Reviews Newsletter, or even portions of it, when we all get the same email? Are there many people who are interested in those reviews who don't subscribe to the newsletter?
It's a question that comes up from time to time, so I will repeat what I have written before (June 28 2005):
In the Macintosh Biblioblog Joe Weaks comments "If you frequent Mark Goodacre's blog, you've observed his personal obsession with posting the review notices in web form". "Personal obsession" might be a little strong, but I do like to post the RBL links relevant to the NT here and for a couple of reasons: (1) RBL themselves still only have an email updates service and not a web updated service, so -- unless I am wrong -- you cannot go to the Review of Biblical Literature website and see what has been posted recently. In that respect it is unlike a standard print journal. You can't browse, unless of course you go to the Search the Post link and write in to "Date Review Published". (2) Quite some time ago, I suggested dropping the regular updates here, as others like Jim Davila did at the same time, but when I suggested this, several got in touch to ask me to continue to do it. (3) I like to build up the available data for searching on the NT Gateway, and to be comprehensive on the NT titles in RBL ensures that I am not leaving out potential gems that may be of interest to others.
Under (3), I'd like to try to nuance the point a little further. Let us say that you wanted to search on the NT Gateway under "J. D. G. Dunn", it would bring up lots of material on the site including blog entries in which there are links to reviews of his work mentioned under the RBL entries. I'd add a fourth point too, that I find myself far more likely to click on a link in a blog or a web page than in an email.

Review of Biblical Literature latest

Latest from the SBL Review of Biblical Literature under the NT heading (and see my next post for "Why do you insist on posting these?"):

Dunn, James D. G.
A New Perspective on Jesus: What the Quest for the Historical Jesus Missed
Reviewed by Petr Pokorny

Loader, William
The Septuagint, Sexuality, and the New Testament: Case Studies on the Impact of the LXX in Philo and the New Testament
Reviewed by Mark Mcentire

Miller, Susan
Women in Mark's Gospel
Reviewed by Betsy Bauman-Martin

Pattemore, Stephen
The People of God in the Apocalypse: Discourse, Structure and Exegesis
Reviewed by David Barr

Rius-Camps, Josep and Jenny Read-Heimerdinger
The Message of Acts in Codex Bezae: A Comparison with the Alexandrian Tradition Volume 1: Acts 1.1-5.42: Jerusalem
Reviewed by Ruben Dupertuis

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Days away from the blogging machine

I'll be away from blogging for a few days (and not just to watch England trying to regain the Ashes) but hope to return to it next week when I can find a moment.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Monday, September 05, 2005

News from Bill Warren

Bill Warren has the following news update (see further New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary), initially sent to my colleague David Parker last Thursday 1 September, and reproduced with permission:
Parts of the seminary in the back with student apartments were under as much as 18 feet of water, but the front part of campus had much less. All of those from the seminary are safe as far as we know due to an early decision at the school to evacuate everyone. Likely our semester is gone with hopes for opening in Jan., but that is not certain at this time (at least not certain for the New Orleans setting, although we may find a temporary home to use until next Aug.). The Center is okay along with the materials and work and, most important, the people working there.

On our house, we were almost under the eye of the hurricane just north of Bay St. Louis. Besides a family of three that were seen disappearing in the surge waters and have not been found (presumed dead), four more church related people are missing from the flooded area and may not have survived. Right now as important as the house may be, needless to say it is the least of our concerns. We have at least 15 church families without homes and that may increase. Hopefully we won't be among them, but at least we got out. People are living in the church and likely will be there for some time. We hope to travel back tomorrow to take supplies and see about the house.

Back to New Orleans, David Brown (whom you may recall from both the CNTTS and Birmingham the last two conferences) and his wife lived near the area of the broken levee and have lost everything including the church where he served, but they got out and are safe. Earl Kellett is already making plans to live for several months at least in the state of Georgia since their home was destroyed almost totally by the flooding.

Again, we appreciate your prayers and concern.
And I received this follow-up earlier this evening:
Life is hectic and ministry is pressing at the moment. We are sheltering the homeless at the church, feeding people, distributing food, clothing, and supplies, helping at homes, etc. Our home is relatively okay, with ten trees on it and some water damage, outside damage, etc., but far better than most. We have come for more supplies here in FL today and will return tonight. Seminary is hoping to resume a semblance of classes,etc. starting in Oct. with a variety of formats based in Atlanta and some other extension sites. If the looters did not get to the Center for NT Textual Studies, we remained above the water in New Orleans. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

Review of Biblical Literature latest

The latest reviews from the SBL Review of Biblical Literature under the New Testament heading:

Arav, Rami and Richard A. Freund, eds.
Bethsaida: A City by the North Shore of the Sea of Galilee, vol. 3
Reviewed by Mark Fairchild

Elliott, J. K., ed.
The Collected Biblical Writings of T. C. Skeat
Reviewed by Robert Kraft

Garrow, Alan J. P.
The Gospel of Matthew's Dependence on the Didache
Reviewed by James Sweeney

Gaventa, Beverly Roberts and Patrick D. Miller, eds.
The Ending of Mark and the Ends of God: Essays in Memory of Donald Harrisville Juel
Reviewed by Kelly Iverson

Goodacre, Mark and Nicholas Perrin, eds.
Questioning Q: A Multidimensional Critique
Reviewed by Joseph Verheyden

Long, Fredrick J.
Ancient Rhetoric and Paul's Apology: The Compositional Unity of 2 Corinthians
Reviewed by Moises Silva

Marshall, I. Howard
New Testament Theology: Many Witnesses, One Gospel
Reviewed by Edward Klinkv

Økland, Jorunn
Women in Their Place: Paul and the Corinthian Discourse of Gender and Sanctuary Space
Reviewed by Davina Lopez

Økland, Jorunn
Women in Their Place: Paul and the Corinthian Discourse of Gender and Sanctuary Space
Reviewed by Joseph Marchal

Nice to see a second review already for Questioning Q, and I think I quite like being described as "the indefatigable Mark Goodacre".

Death of Robert Funk

Jim West reports the death of Robert Funk on Biblical Theology on September 3.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

BNTC, Day 3

Saturday -- the last day of the British New Testament Conference at Liverpool Hope University College. After a cooked breakfast, the third and final meeting of the seminars. I was in the Synoptics Seminar and we had two papers, first Seamus O'Connell on "Fourfold Repetion in the Gospel of Mark". Paul Foster asked the key question, pointing out that a good number of Seamus's fourfold repetitions depended on his questionable decisions about pericope divisions, and with variation in the units, they became five-fold (and so on). I questioned his use of the Delbert Burkett argument on the "omission" of "benign" redactional features of Mark in Matthew and Luke, on which I'll be writing my review of Burkett's book soon for JTS.

Ken Olson, a PhD student at the University of Birmingham, but shortly to move to Duke University, gave the second paper on the Temple-mockery on the cross in Mark, which he uses towards an argument for a post-70 date for Mark, and I find it pretty convincing and hope that Ken will get it published soon.

After the seminars, coffee. After coffee, the postponed Business Meeting and then the final main paper, Darrell Hannah on the Fourfold Canon in the Epistula Apostolorum. It was another educational paper for me, because I was largely ignorant of the the text at the beginning. Darrell argued that the text witnesses to the existence of the fourfold Gospel canon as early as the 140s. As usual, though, I did enjoy a short nap in the middle of the paper, and no doubt missed some good stuff.

It was then just lunch and departure. As ever, there was a lot of good feeling. It's such a friendly conference. Ursula Leahy, who did the lion's share of the local organisation, was warmly thanked for her efficiency and good humour, and was presented with flowers and wine by Kenneth Newport.

The conference was also a little sad for me as the last I'll be able to get to, at least for the foreseeable future, because of my forthcoming move to the USA. And I had so many expressions of good will and fond farewells that it made me much more conscious of that fact than I might otherwise have been.

One concluding comment. When Michael Goulder used to be well enough to attend the conference regularly, he would always comment on the presence or absence of what he called the "top brass", i.e. the professors in the discipline. Alas, this year we were short on the top brass. Morna Hooker (president) was there, and John Riches (former president); Christopher Rowland was giving a paper, and Andrew Lincoln and Loveday Alexander were there too, but otherwise, the senior scholars were largely absent. I know Michael would have commented.

BNTC, Day 2, evening

One of things that made the conference this year particularly enjoyable for me was that it was my first as an everyday punter for some time. For the previous three years, I had been secretary and treasurer of the society (I'm still webmaster), and for one of those also the host in Birmingham. I had forgotten how enjoyable it was just to go along and enjoy listening to papers and talking to old friends without having to worry about the big organisational things.

Friday evening was the conference dinner. A good meal (salmon) with more wine. As so often, the conference dinner lasted too long and the timetable was all messed up, so the Business Meeting was postponed to the Saturday morning, and we went straight into the main paper, Christopher Rowland on William Blake and the New Testament. It was a hugely enjoyable presentation, and for someone like me most educational too. It was fully illustrated, and it was a pleasure to have a presentation (hobby-horse now mounted) speaking extemp, and not reading a script.

Once again, after the main paper, much of the conference retired to the Chaplaincy for a nice drink or two and this time there were some real ales too and for some, a late night.

BNTC: Day 2, afternoon

Friday afternoon is designated free time, but for many of us that is the time when we get to pre-arranged meetings to move forward on different projects. After tea, the Simultaneous Short Papers. Of the three on offer, there's no question that David Horrell's was the most popular. He practically filled the main lecture theatre and not without reason -- it was an excellent paper. I think that when Sean the Baptist and I walked in at 4, we were the first there and wondered why the room was so empty. But it took it 20 minutes to fill and David handled the steady stream, coming in for at least the first half of his paper, with great humour, and had fresh starts, false starts, summaries, summaries of the summaries and so on. The gist of his paper was to look at Paul's letters in the light of Bauckham et al's Gospels for All Christians, questioning the very descriptor "Pauline church", patiently taking us through the Pauline correspondence in sequence and making a case that each church is not accurately described or identified by using the term "Pauline". It was excellent stuff, with a good question session, and I am very much looking forward to seeing it in print. I told David today (Saturday) that I thought it was the highlight of the conference.

BNTC: Day 2, morning

The accommodation at Liverpool Hope was in two adjacent buildings, one called Wesley and the other called Angela. Wesley was so new that we were the first people to sleep in the rooms. Indeed, we woke up each morning to the sounds of the builders getting to work on the continuing effort to get these new halls ready for the students' imminent arrival. (Just after the new toilet brushes had been delivered outside each door, I overheard one of the cleaners tut-tutting that she could not believe that they had allowed a conference in when the rooms weren't ready!). There were a few things one might have missed, like a cup at the sink, or a mirror, or somewhere to make a cup of coffee, but I don't think it would be reasonable to allow such things to colour one's opinion of a splendidly organized conference, on which more anon.

There was a good cooked breakfast, and the first seminar meetings were after that, 9.15-10.45 and 11.15-12.45, with coffee in between. There are ten seminars and members are discouraged from "seminar hopping", i.e. they are supposed to stay in one seminar for the two days of the conference. As often, I attended the Synoptics Seminar, ably chaired by Helen Bond from Edinburgh. Paper 1 was an excellent piece by society secretary Bridget Gilfillan Upton on Mark 16, looking at how our reading of Mark's Gospel as a whole is impacted by reading of the different endings of Mark. There was a lot of juicy discussion -- a good session.

Unfortunately, this is where my own circumstances began to impinge on my attendance at and appreciation of the conference -- I had to leave that seminar early, and miss all of the next one because of major movements, which I will not bore you with, connected with the collapse of our house sale in Birmingham and the arrival of our paperwork for our visas to the USA. But after most of the morning on the mobile phone and the internet, I got a lot done, and was still able to find time for lunch.

BNTC: Day 1

This year's British New Testament Conference began on Thursday evening with a drinks reception and a welcome from Liverpool Hope University College, who were our hosts. As often at the conference, the drinks were all situated by the book display, an ideal arrangement. After a good dinner, with generous amounts of wine on offer, we had the first main paper from Richard Burridge, Dean of King's College, London. His topic was "A Biographical Approach to New Testament Ethics", a paper that interacted with other recent studies on New Testament ethics, including those of Richard Hays and David Horrell and made suggestions, among other things, for a Jesus-based, Christological, biographical foundation for New Testament ethics. Richard had a decent powerpoint presentation and a hand-out and although I had my customary doze, it was pretty straightforward to follow, and stimulated lots of useful questions, in spite of the healthy amounts of wine imbibed.

One of the most remarkable things about this conference was the substitute for the traditional bar. Because Liverpool Hope were not able to provide a bar in the Students' Union, Kenneth Newport put on a free drinks do in the Chaplaincy each evening, and this generated a lot of good feeling, and some very enjoyable conversations. As several people remarked, it is the post-paper socialising that remians the heart of the conference. I'm just hoping that Kenneth's hospitality did not go unrewarded. On Friday evening, Richard Burridge made a little announcement reminding the punters to put a little donation in to help cover these expenses.

Happy blogiversary to me

The NT Gateway Weblog is now two years old. It began on 2 September 2003. 1786 posts on and I'm still enjoying blogging. Thanks for reading and supporting the blog.

Home again

Back from the BNTC now and ready to report in due course. One of those great train journeys back where it seemed like half the people on the train were on their way back from the conference. All the people one has already said goodbye to multiple times one then says goodbye to that one last time.

British New Testament Conference Over

The British New Testament Conference has now finished and I'm about to catch my taxi back. Alas, no wireless access or other internet access in the rooms so I have not been able to get my blogging machine into action. But there are a couple of computers in the Refectory and I've seen other bloggers in action here so look forward to finding out what they have been sharing. When I've managed to steal time at these machines, I have been busy on final preparations for our move to the USA, which now looks like it will be in just over a fortnight or so. I had a lot to do by email and mobile phone and begin to wonder if it had been a wise decision to come along, but I don't regret it -- it's been a good conference and, as usual, I have met lots of old and new friends and heard a mixture of the great and not so great papers. When I get back, I'll write a full report.

Update (Tuesday, 01.16): most enjoyable post from Rick Brannan on Ricoblog on a fragmentary remain of the above post, discovered and analyzed in the distant future.