The Blogging and Online Publication Session included a presentation from Jack Collins which, in essence, called for some scholars to consider a free-agent approach, by-passing the “branding” of colleges and universities in order to offer direct teaching to whosoever will, a sort of Napster to academia. While many of the ideas were interesting I didn’t want to touch the proposal with a ten foot pole. I have several “Plan B” careers in my mind if I don’t find a place to teach, but independently teaching like Plato or Aristotle as a way of challenging mainstream academia is not one of them. For example, I tutor a few people in Koine Greek, but I would never suggest that my private tutelage is something someone should choose over an accredited program.
Joshua L. Mann’s talk was more of a “how-to” for those who want to expand their online presence. He talked about blogging, but also other things like podcasts that can be integrated into a blog making for better personal branding and promotion.
My talk was twenty minutes of doomsday scenarios aimed at students who want to go further in their academic journey or non-tenured educators. Joel L. Watts responded with a paper listing the perks of blogging. We were sort of ying-yang, so I hope the audience received the full picture.
On Monday evening we had the Annual Biblioblogger’s Gathering. It was estimated that about forty bloggers made an appearance. Some have blogged for a while, some barely blog, and some are brand new. The best thing about this gathering is that it allows those of us who know each other through our blogs to meet face-to-face.
Saturday evening I was invited along with a handful of other bloggers to a private meeting with N.T. Wright to discuss his new book Paul and the Faithfulness of God, which I haven’t read nor do I plan to read any time soon since my focus is not on Pauline Literature at this time. I made this known upfront and I was asked to come nevertheless. For another summary of the event see Kimberly Majeski’s An Evening with N.T. Wright.
Of course, Wright was extremely kind and welcoming in spite of being on a whirlwind schedule. The first question that had to be asked was about some disparaging remarks he had made about bloggers. He clarified the context: it was during his public debate with John Piper over justification by faith when many of the so-called Neo-Reformed took to the blogs to call Wright a heretic as well as all those who had been doing it already. I think our group allowed Wright to meet some bloggers who are not like that at all.
Wright was asked if we need “a new ethic of blogging” and he gave an insightful response addressing many of the concerns I’ve shared on this blog, especially as regards anonymity. While I haven’t decided to do this quite yet, it has crossed my mind that I might approve each comment and request that commenters use their first and last name like Larry Hurtado does on his blog.
Most of the chat was about Paul and his epistles. He summarized his book for us. He talked a bit about things like theosis, the role of the Greek Old Testament (LXX) in Paul’s writings and its possible inspiration as Scripture, his interpretation of Philemon as a place to begin his exploration into Pauline Theology, and then, finally, I asked him how his new volume might lead him and his readers to rethink his previous volumes of Jesus. In gist, his new volume presents Paul as the one who in essence invented what we might call “Christian Theology”. Paul asks how the previous boundary markers might be replaced by something else that gives Christians their identity and this leads not to circumcision, dietary laws, and those things that made the Jews distinct, but to theologizing about what God has done in Christ. Also, Wright’s eschatology, view of justification, and understanding of ethics have new twists. Some sections of this book are new ventures for Wright as he deals more fully with Paul in a Greco-Roman context.
There was more small talk about subjects like Wright’s writing disciplines, the use of a research assistant, and women bishops in the Church of England. I quite enjoyed myself and I’m glad I attended. Wright’s writings have meant a lot for me both in my religious evolution and my desire to engage scholarship on the Gospels and Pauline Epistles. I’m glad I had the opportunity to meet this fine person and scholar, to engage critically with his work and worldview, and to see him as a real person since he often has a larger than life reputation!