Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

New life in Indonesia

Well I’ve been absent on the blog for some time. I’ve just moved to Indonesia, and here are my initial thoughts:

  • Wonderful people
  • Amazingly cheap food – I just bought a delicious lunch for the equivalent of $1.70 Australian!
  • Very green
  • Great place to be


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Just booked my flights for SBL Atlanta in November. Looks like I’ll be participating in some great stuff.

This will be my first time to the U.S., so between now and November I’ll prepare by eating nothing but hot dogs and apple pies. Oh and I’ll say that things are “neat.” Anything else I should know?

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The program book is now out for SBL in Vienna. I’ll be doing two papers, one on 1 Corinthians and one on 1 Peter.

The paper on 1 Corinthians aims to overview recent attempts to account for the structure and theme of the letter. This is the topic of my recent monograph, but I will be surveying all of the major recent discussion on the topic. To me this is a fairly important issue, because the question being addressed really is, ‘What is 1 Corinthians doing, and what is it about?’ The abstract is here.

The paper on 1 Peter explores the theme of the ‘rebirthed inheritor’ in the letter, considering the way in which this imagery evokes the identity of the Son whom God called out of Egypt. The interrelationship between Israel, Christ, and the recipients of the letter fascinates me, and I am trying to push further in understanding it. The abstract is here.

The only trouble is: how do I condense these into twenty minutes each?!

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Questioning Look

This is me, sitting in Maccas with a questioning look on my face, as I use the free wifi. Every time I come to England something strikes me as soon as the tube from Heathrow surfaces with a vista of overgrown allotments, age-old buildings, and endearingly silly signs. I always think to myself, “I feel at home here.” This was especially brought home to me yesterday, when I went to an exhibition at the British Library, and I saw people – young people – voluntarily paying to view ancient books and manuscripts about the literary interpretation of British landscapes. I found it almost impossible to believe that, besides me, anyone would be ridiculous enough to want to do that. But here in the UK, such people exist. Which gave me a small sense of disappointment at the thought of returning to the sunbleached desert of Australia. Australia has its good points – and it has the people I want to be with – but I do experience this feeling every time I leave…

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I had an American friend in England who said he couldn’t see himself ever living in Australia, as it didn’t seem like a good environment to be depressed in – too much good weather and laid back good times.

But as I think about it, perhaps that might make Australia a great place to be depressed – maybe the brightness of a stubbornly beautiful day could make the contours of the bleakness all the more stark. Here’s how some others have put it:

“Hey… there’s not a cloud in the sky, it’s as blue as your blue goodbye, and I thought that it would rain on a day like today.” (Wendy Matthews, The Day You Went Away)

“Gold’s in the sky, and in my blue eyes. You know it feels unfair: there’s magic everywhere.” (Black, Wonderful Life)

“Once I knew; now I’m walking in the dark. Like bells our dogs are barking all across Centennial Park, and the Sunday morning light just sends me blind. And I’m only feeling useless cause there’s nothing I can blame: every person, thing and circumstance that moves this perfect day, you’ve left behind.” (Cold Chisel, Letter to Alan)

In fact, I find that there is an overwhelming amount of depression in Australia – it’s the chief medical problem, and the chief spiritual problem. We are harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd – in a luscious green field.

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I’ll consider some specific papers, and offer some personal reflections, in later posts. In the mean time, here’s what happened, in pictures…

1) The International Meeting of the SBL was held at King’s College London, just across the Thames from Westminster. I took this pic on my first morning:

On the Sunday night, many of us attended a service at Westminster Abbey. Here’s the group from SBL, waiting to get in:

Various interesting papers were offered. One of the first I attended was given by A. Talbert, who reflected on Jauss’ significance for New Testament hermeneutics. His presentation was lent significant weight by his commanding use of a pipe:

N.T. Wright read extracts from his brand new “New Testament for everyone,” and signed copies of his books:

Under the Strand campus of King’s College London was a “Roman” bath, which one intrepid SBL attendee had the disappointment of visiting:

This was quickly remedied by a trip to the British Museum, which seems to have revamped its section on Egypt, after its fantastic exhibition on the Egyptian Book of the Dead last year:

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I’ll report on SBL papers when I get back, so I have more time to reflect and looks back at my notes. But I’ve been to some really interesting sessions, in three different categories:

  • Methods in NT studies (such as papers on hermeneutics)
  • Greek (such as papers by Buist Fanning & Steve Runge)
  • Paul & Pauline Literature (such as papers on 1 Corinthians)

In the mean time, I’ll report on my stupid trip to the “Roman bath” today. I had noticed yesterday, when I was over the other side of the Thames, a sign pointing to a Roman bath. I decided to return today with my camera. When I got there, it was disappointing for three, nay, four, reasons:

  1. It was tiny
  2. They weren’t sure that it was Roman
  3. You could only see it through a window
  4. I couldn’t take a bath in it

So now I’m stuffing my face with olives and pizza, to drown my sorrows.

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