ISBL Day 4

Our fourth day in St. Andrews was a combination of unique experiences and interesting discussion.

I stared off the day at a seminar dedicated to 2nd Temple studies. Interestingly another session scheduled for the afternoon had to get cut because all of the presenters, except for one, dropped out. Because of this I got to hear a paper on a unique topic that was out of my personal context. It was on an apocryphal document titled The Acts of Phillip (circa. 3rd or 4th century C.E.). This document is somewhat fantastical, recording things like a dog making the case that he should be able to take the Eucharist (based on the fact that he recently become a vegetarian). It was a fun presentation that gave us a picture of how legends surrounding the apostles had morphed overtime to fairytailish stories.

For lunch Eduard and I went to the beach and ate at the foot of the Castle of St. Andrews. Here I revived a present from a passing seagull in the form of yellow poo which, thankfully, hit me in the leg (rather than the head as has happened in the past).

After lunch we went to a special whiskey seminar which was interesting and intoxicatingly fun:) Sponsored by one of the publishers, this seminar was completely free to attend, the only requirement being you had to have signed up for it ahead of time. The session started with a round of tasting and conversation. I was helpfully directed by a German OT scholar (Andres Shule) not to go directly for the more smokey flavored whiskeys, as their strength would inhibit my ability to taste the distinctness of the others types offered.

After a round of tasting, we enjoyed a presentation by the head of the St. Andrews School of Business about the history of whiskey in Scotland. It is an interesting tale that includes illicit highland stills, midnight bootlegging runs, royal injunctions and approvals, and much more. The presentation was highly entertaining engaging the crowd with multiple results of laughing and applause. I remarked to a friend that this would probably be the most encouraging and accepted crowd at ISBL due to the fact that everyone in the crowd has had a few drams. This results in the scholarly veneer falling just enough for people to actually enjoy each others company and not attempt to critically defeat every point presented.

A highlight for me concerning this seminar included meeting and talking to people that normally do not attend the same seminars that I do (ie. OT scholars, Orthodox Jews, etc). I also enjoyed leaning more about Scottish culture and tasting the very different and unique flavors of whiskey. I was delightfully surprised at the robust flavor of one whiskey called Laphroaig, which tasted like a nice campfire smells. Evidently Prince Charles and I have a lot in common as Laphroaig is his favorite whiskey and the only one that carries his royal seal of approval.

After the Whiskey seminar we went outside while they rearranged the room (The Parliament Room at Queen Mary’s College) for the next presentation where N.T. Wright gave a historical presentation on 600 years of exegesis at the University of St. Andrews. It was a little on the long side which is understandable since he did have 600 years to cover in a little over an hour. The length, combined with the tipsyness I acquired from the previous seminar (see above) made it a bit difficult to aptly attend to everything he said. There was a few times during the history presented that St. Andrews and Aberdeen were at extreme odds with each other. Mickey Klink let me know later that I should be thoroughly ashamed of myself. I agree, at least until I get back to Aberdeen and get filled with the Aberdonian spirit again. This usually happens when I hear the follow the local pattern of saying things in a grammatically incorrect manner. An example: “I want one of them things.”

Afterwards there was a wine reception following a marching band that consisted of the program’s promised Scottish surprise, bagpipes and kilts. More weird posh food was the fare for that evening. I stayed away from the wine because that last thing I needed was to have more alcohol after the whiskey tasting.

Anyway, it will be good to go home soon!

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