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.