Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Travel Diary: Synoptic Problem Conference II

Oxford, 01:02: second day of the Oxford conference on the Synoptic Problem at Lincoln College. One of the participants here teased me about whether or not I might blog what I had for breakfast today. So in his honour: breakfast today was sausage, egg and tinned tomatoes; it was perfectly fine but to have been perfect it would have needed (at least) good British back bacon and black pudding. But of course the catering people here don't know how much the British ex-pats present hanker for such things, and the breakfast was very nice.

Today was the first full day of the conference. The sessions all take place in the same room, a very Oxford kind of conference room, in which we all sit around the table rather than in rows. There were two separate sessions this morning, separated by coffee, and each with a series of three papers summarized. In session 1, Paul Foster chaired. William Loader talked about Synoptic Perspectives on Jesus and the Law, and his summary was in fact an interesting supplement to the paper he had uploaded, with reflections on how the evidence appeared from the perspectives of the Two-Source Theory, the Griesbach Theory and the Farrer Theory. This has become something of a pattern here -- these are the three theories mainly on the table and which receive the attention from most presenters. Duncan Reid then talked about the miracles from the perspective of differing Synoptic theories. Duncan is one of John Kloppenborg's students in Toronto. Charles Hedrick was not able to be present, so Paul Foster read a 15 minute summary of his paper. There was a broad discussion afterwards.

The second session was chaired by Joseph Verheyden. Kathleen Corley spoke about White Male dominance of Synoptic research, and David Peabody talked about Reading the Synoptic Gospels from the perspective of different source hypotheses, though he focused, inevitably, on the Two-Gospel Theory. I found Kathleen Corley's paper a bit disappointing, not least because it did not engage with the Synoptic Problem at all, so we did not get any closer to an answer to the question posed. I also doubt her thesis, that men are inclined towards Synoptic research because they identify with the historical Jesus. The third paper in the session was from Udo Schnelle, who was not present, and a summary was read, in German, by the chair.

After lunch, it was free time, and then tea. The second main paper was John Kloppenborg on Synopses and the Synoptic Problem. This was perhaps the paper that I found the most engaging in the conference so far, and it generated lengthy and helpful discussion afterwards. Dinner is finished in good time each evening, allowing plenty of time for a bit of socializing afterwards.

The way in which the discussion is being conducted at this conference is excellent. There are a few agenda-heavy questions, with repetitions of the protagonist's particular theories or perspectives, but on the whole, the discussions are tending to air issues of interest to all present, and across a range of areas.

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