ISBL Reflections

I’m back home now after attending the ISBL in St. Andrews and I have had a little time to reflect on the conference as a whole. To begin with I should probably quickly recap Day 4, if only to be consistent.

Day 4 was pretty uneventful. Eduard and I went to the Pauline Theology session where I heard a few good and one pretty great paper presented. Tim Gombis, a St. Andrews alumni and friend of Klink and Lockett, gave a great paper on the book of Philemon and the relationship between Philemon and Onesimus. His main proposal was that there was much more to their relationship than originally might have been thought. Rather than just a master/slave relationship, Tim offered a very good bit of evidence that Philemon and Onesimus were in fact blood brothers. Without giving to much away (because I assume that Tim is going to publish this paper shortly) it looks as if Paul’s wording might indicate that Onesimus was the slave illegitimate brother of Philemon, probably sharing the same father. This doesn’t change traditional interpretations to much but actually enriches the historical reading of the text, giving full attention to some difficult greek phrasing.

After the session, Eduard and I walked back down town and on the way I ran into an old Talbot friend John Dunn (now a PhD student under N.T. Wright in St. Andrews). It was nice to chat with him for a bit. I was hoping to catch up with him during the conference but never really got the chance. I also ran into the fellas (Klink and Lockett) again who were walking with another friend, Andrew Kelly, who came down from Edinburgh (where his is also working on a PhD with in NT Helen Bond) for the day to catch up with some people while they were in town. It was great to reconnect, even thought was very quickly.

Eduard and I ate lunch and picked up a few souvenirs. I got each boy a little stuffed animal and Melodie a tartan billfold. The ride back was pretty uneventful except for an extremely drunk guy who was a bit obnoxious. He must have asked the porter about 6 times when the Aberdeen stop was (al this in a matter of 5 minutes). When we got to the station I was waiting for Yutaka to pick me up and watched the drunk guy walk up to a corner made of glass and just stand there thoroughly confused. I think he thought it was supposed to be an exit but couldn’t figure out how to “open” it. After about 10 minutes he wandered off somewhere else.

The conference as a whole was ok. St. Andrews was beautiful and the weather was great, if not a little on the warm side. Some of the sessions were a bit disappointing and a little bit boring. Some were pretty great. I think there were a few things that made the experience worthwhile. 1) The great location. I had never been to St. Andrews before and I can’t wait to go back, this time with Melodie and the boys. There is so much history to explore and such beauty to bask in. 2) The company. Eduard and I had a lot of fun. The Reinhards were great hosts. Catching up with the fellas was fantastic. Getting to know new friends from all over the world made the trip worthwhile. 3) I was pretty encouraged that I would be able to study and present at a high academic level. Not that I, or my research, is ready quite yet but hopefully by this time next year I can present at a similar conference. I felt that I could follow most things that were in line with my topic. And, if you present a paper, chances are that some kind of funding is available to help with travel expenses from the university.

Well, that was my week at ISBL and I am happy to be home. Please continue to pray for me and my family. Finances are tight and we are waiting for our US Tax refund to give us a little breathing space. I also have picked up some work with the Development Trust in the next few weeks and that should provide a little cushion for the summer. We would love to be able to travel around a little bit while the kids are out of school and see the fabulous sights here in Scotland.

Pleas let me know how I can be praying for you! Leave a comment on this blog.

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