Friday, 17 July 2009

I'm back from SBL Rome!

So, I'm finally back from Rome after what has been for me one of the most fruitful experiences I have had in a long time! Before leaving I was filled with a certain trepidation that I would end up sitting in hours of lectures that I wouldn't understand (for some reason I can hardly listen to lectures) and then spend the evenings sat in cafés in Rome on my own trying to catch up on my reading. As it turned out, I had the great pleasure of getting to know John Hobbins, author of one of the best biblioblogs on the net, who pretty much took me under his wings and made the whole experience unforgettable. John wrote his doctorate at the Waldensian institute around the corner from the SBL venue (on Isaiah and imperialism) and thus knew his way around well. Apart from taking me to the best ice-cream and coffee shops in Rome (and the world?), the highlight of the whole trip was for me by far the conversations we had amongst ourselves and with the various friends he introduced me to along the way. Learning really is a community thing, and if its theology you are learning, then you really need role models. John is for me one of those rare breeds of scholar-Christians who strives to and manages to integrate personal faith, pastoral concern, and high level academic work. In addition to the various notes I've haphazardly jotted down over the course of my stay (plus the e-mails of helpful scholars), my lasting memory will be the Gestalt effect of hanging out with John in the context of his Waldensian community, fueled by good coffee and good conversations.

Oh, and in case you didn't believe that John is the bees knees when it comes to quality dining in Rome, you can see him above leaving one of Romes most prestigious diners.


John Hobbins said...

That reminds me, I need to call in a favor from a top chef in New Orleans. I officiated at his wedding a few years back, and with SBL New Orleans coming up, it would be fun to arrange an event at his restaurant.

Phil, you probably missed it, but Sasha and Malia Obama not only got to have ice cream at Giolitti's, one of the same ice cream parlors we went to, they were allowed to help make the gelato "back-stage." What fun. A lot better than what their Dad had to put up with, hob nobbing with all the stuffed shirts on business in L'Aquila.

Phil Sumpter said...

Well, I didn't actually meet the Obama's, but their visit caused such a stir that we couldn't use the buses any more and had to rush through the Sistine Chapel.

I won't be seeing you at New Orleans, but I may make it to the next American SBL. I hope we can repeat the experience!

By the way, Goldingay agrees with Botha: Jacob is parallel to "dor." For a different interpretation, Herbert reckons "panekha" is a metaphor for God himself, i.e. "your God," drawing on Gen 32. I'm thinking of listing all the possibilities and not drawing any conclusions!

Bobby Grow said...

Phil said:

. . . John is for me one of those rare breeds of scholar-Christians who strives to and manages to integrate personal faith, pastoral concern, and high level academic work. . . .

The fact that you are conscience of this says alot about your own approach; and I really appreciate that!

It seems that, esp. amongst the academics in the "sphere;" the 'personal faith' piece is often missing (at least as reflected in the tone of many postings that I have read over the years). Keep up the good work, Phil!

I think I'll have to visit John's site now . . .

Phil Sumpter said...

Thanks Bobby, do check out John's blog. You'll find quite a diversity of information on topics ranging from Hebrew poetics, politics, theology, hermeneutics, and interpretation.