Day three started off a little better. Eduard and I got up in time and made it to the sessions. My choice of sessions was based on want I thought would be relevant to my thesis topic. All in all my morning was pretty disappointing. The first paper given consisted of a Jewish scholar who, by his own admission, represented a minority position in contemporary Jewish orthodoxy. He spent 35 minutes trying to convince his audience that God was not the central character of the OT. He was thoroughly convinced that the Hebrew Bible (aka the Old Testament) was recorded Man as the central character with a record of God’s reaction to Man’s actions. To “prove” this he mentioned books where God is hardly mentioned like Proverbs and Esther (where God is not mentioned at all).
This seems to me a startling misunderstanding of the nature of revelation.
The purpose of revelation (esp. the revelation of scripture) is to reveal things previously unknown or impossible to grasp fully without divine intervention. When we look at the Hebrew Bible in an ethnocentric (saying “this is primarily about the Jewish people”) or androcentric (saying “this is primary about mankind”) or even an individualistic (saying “this is primarily about me”) way we create a lens which has the tendency to filter out the primary purpose of the text, to reveal the character and nature of God. Besides, God’s providence and action is implicit thought the text, even in Esther and other texts where God is not frequently mentioned. And, to claim what this guys claims one would have to basically ignore the Jewish organization of the scripture which has books building on each other in a meta-narrative that gives theological structure to the whole.
There were a few other papers given in that session that, along with the heat of the room, served to lull some of the participants to sleep. A highlight of the session was John Goldengay’s thoughts on middle narratives in Hebrew Bible and the discussion afterwards. But all in all I wished I had visited another morning session, especially after hearing the great content Eduard experienced in the Pauline Theology group.
Lunch was the highlight of the afternoon. I got to hang out with some great guys that were very influential in my coming to Scotland. Darian Lockett and Mickey Klink are both professors at Biola/Talbot and studied at the PhD level in St. Andrews. Eduard and another new friend Ben Laird joined us walking around town and seeing the sights. The fellas (Mickey and Darian) reminisced about their life in St. Andrews and showed us some of the places they used to work in an hang out. We ended up eating outside ruins of the Cathedral of St. Andrews where Mickey, to my immense disappointment, did not accept my challenge to lay down in the empty grave/sepulcher so I could get a picture. Before I left for Aberdeen I got to talk to these guys in-depth about life in Scotland, especially life with a family. Darian also read though my proposal and offered some very helpful suggestions. So, catching up with them meant a lot to me.
The afternoon session was better. It stared off with a paper by Andrew Clarke, my supervisor, about the focus and scope of Pauline authority. I stuck around for the next paper that attempted to apply a socio-scientific approach and chart out Paul’s leadership based on current studies on leadership. After that I snuck out and went walking in order to find some space and time for a little solitude and contemplation.
There is a beautiful walking path that leads to a stream called Lady Breas (or something similar) and a great place for contemplation. I spent a little while sitting and journaling, just soaking in the beauty of the place and enjoying God’s presence. I talked about several things with God during that time with specific emphasis on some great advice I revived from the fellas about guarding my heart against the idolatry of scholarship.
That night we met up with the Reinhardts (Dave and Carrie) and bought them dinner as a thank you for letting us stay at their house. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to attend the conference since budget is getting quite tight this summer. We ate at a pub called The Rule. Eduard had haggis for the first time in the form of an appetizer called Haggis bites, a deep fried version of the Scottish fare. I had the Mac and Cheese with chips (French fries). It was pretty good, basic pub food.
It was great to spend a few moments with Dave and Carrie and hear about their testimony about how God has brought them to St. Andrews and provided for them in unique ways. Molly reminded me a lot of Ryun and his love of drawing with crayons. She was super cute bouncing around and excited about dinner. I tried to convince her to order the Monkey Fingers with fish eyes but she declined and went with the Fish sticks and French fries:) Dave and Carrie are great parents taking the challenges of a new baby in stride and still doting attention on Molly, even though Dave almost lost an eye to a pencil I may have over sharpened for a certain three year old:)
One more day and then I get to go home and hang out with the boys, who are out of school and having a blast with Melodie. I miss them like crazy and can’t wait!