Durham New Testament Seminar

The schedule for the NT seminars at Durham has been posted.  If you are in or around Durham, or perhaps planning a visit, take note of these speakers and dates.  I noticed that several of these papers are previews of the same topics to be presented at SBL in Nov.  Eddie Adams is technically the only one on the list not a ‘Durhamite’, but it is a truly fine list of speakers in any case.

Upcoming Seminars

Best on Philippians 3

I received, earlier, a comment asking me to offer a place to start for reading Phil. 3.  Now, my paper at Exeter was more focused on Phil. 1, but I did have to dip into chapt. 3, so I can offer a few thoughts.  Chapter 3 deals with several issues (enemies, Paul’s background, suffering/glory-resurrection), but my interest was just in the motif of suffering.  That will be the focus of my comments.

 COMMENTARIES

For more general resources I recommend the following:

Bockmuehl, M. Philippians (Black’s NTC).  A short, but balanced, and sane analysis of the text. 

 Fee, Gordon. Philippians (NICNT).  A massive commentary, this offers theological and traditional exegetical analysis. 

Hooker, Morna. Philippians (New Interpreter’s).  This is more of an exposition commentary, and it is rather short, but I really enjoy her perspective and especially on matters of ‘interchange’ or ‘participation’ with Christ.

Fowl, Stephen. Philippians (Two Horizons).  This new series really tries to marry systematic theology and biblical studies.  Though it is not meant to offer rigorous exegesis, Fowl is excellent in drawing out the theological inferences or implications of a text.  There are also some helpful excurses in the back.

 Articles/Monographs/Essays

More specifically on the matter of suffering/resurrection in Phil. 3. see

 Bloomquist, G. The Function of Suffering in Philippians (1993).  He also has a related article in Theoforum

 Gorman, M. Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross (2001).

Hooker, M. ‘Interchange and Suffering’ in Suffering and Martyrdom (ed. Horbury 1981).  Her focus is, in part, on Phil. 3. 

Jervis, L. Ann. At the Heart of the Gospel (2007).  One of her chapters is on suffering in Philippians.

If you are looking for something more on Paul’s opponents read the Brill volume on Paul and his Opponents (ed. Porter, see esp. Sumney), and take note of especially (in her commentary) Hooker’s thoughts on the opponents and also John M G Barclay’s caveat in his article on ‘Mirror-reading a Polemical Letter’ (JSNT 1987).

I could go on and on, but I think that is a good start.  I’m sure others will have their favorite books/commentaries, but here is my two cents.

British New Testament Society Conference Exeter

Well, my family and I are back from BNTC (Exeter). Afterwards we spent a couple of days with a friend in Wales – a beautiful place with friendly people.

This was my first BNTC and it was a real delight. There are a number of seminars going on simultaneously including Synoptic Gospels, Revelation, Johannine, Social World of NT, Second Temple Judaism, Acts…etc…I went to the Paul seminar to hear Francis Watson speak about his latest major revision of his published PhD thesis – a major overhaul with critiques of the New Perspective – quite a change from his original appreciation of the work of Sanders/Dunn. He specifically highlighted (in his paper at BNTC) that many assume a united front between Sanders and Dunn where little agreement exists (particularly on the matter of Paul and his thought). I am interested to read more about his changes in thought.

I spent the second session in the Hermeneutics Seminar listening to our own B C Blackwell – the eminent scholar from Durham! He presented on the theme of glory in Romans (which he considers to be neglected) and his conclusion that Paul relates it to immortality. A wise and careful analysis with good feedback from those present.

The plenary session by Morna Hooker was on Paul’s continual re-expression of gospel ‘first principles’ that he constantly adapted to meet the social and theological needs of his churches. Though I overheard some criticising the fact that we had a retired professor giving a plenary session, I feel that Morna is always welcome and will always have something important to say – she is still a very active speaker and writer (and singer from what I understand!). I am disappointed in those who want their ears tickled by some young new radical scholar. Morna is sharp, accurate, thought-provoking and engages in issues of fundamental importance to understanding Paul – has she not devoted her life to it?! Anyway, enough ranting – she was excellent and a nice person as well.

The best times were often meals where we could have light conversation with staff and students -though there were not many students present. I kept on meeting former students of Durham – Stephen Wright, Helen Bond, Dennis Stamps, Ellen Christiansen. This encourages me greatly because all of these people are smart, kind, and successful scholars. As Ben Blackwell has pointed out in his blog, students/staff from Oxford and Cambridge were surprisingly few.

I presented at the simultaneous short papers. Two things were a bit of a shock. First, I had been told that I would have 15-20 minutes for my paper including questions. Then, when I arrived at the session, I learned that I would have 45 minutes. I scrambled to expand my notes – luckily I brought a longer version to hand out – I ended up using the longer version with slight edits. Fortunately Bruce Longenecker was presenting before me and I had time to do the editing. Secondly, I expected 10-15 people. There was about 50-60. I did not have enough handouts! But, I received helpful feedback and criticism from Morna Hooker, Todd Still, Paul Holloway, Philip Esler, and others. This was the most nerve-racking presentation I have ever given! Imagine – several major commentators on Philippians (my papers topic) were in the audience (including Howard Marshall). Very intimidating. But, I survived.

Next year the conference will be in Durham. That will be fun and cost efficient! I am hoping we can convince the board of the BNTSociety to offer workshops or short forums for doctoral students – what an opportunity that would be! Topics could include research methods, resources, viva tips, common logical fallacies, time management, language acquisition. If we could get a few staff from various institutions to run such sessions, I think we could really get more research students to attend. I will contact the board members, but if any of you out there who plan to attend have ideas for me, feel free to comment on this post.

So, though I cannot compare, I still would say this was a successful conference. I wish I had known that the Paul seminar pre-circulates the papers and they will NOT be read at the sessions. I was in the dark on Watson’s paper. So, if you are new to the BNTC, print out the pre-circulated papers, read them beforehand (perhaps on the train ride) and bring them with you (to look up pages as the reader may refer to them).

Also, bring money for a book or two (great deals) – but not too much money -don’t want to be tempted. I am proud to say that I didn’t buy a single book! We spent the money instead on eating Indian food – a better choice I think!

Note – for those who consider attending next year – I think the conference does offer small bursaries to cover part of the cost for those who are in need.