Monday, 9 July 2007

British New Testament Society Conference 2007

The 26th Annual British New Testament Society Conference will be hosted by University of Exeter from 6-8 September 2007.

The main speakers are Professor Morna Hooker who will be speaking on "Paul the Pastor: The Relevance of the Gospel"; Professor John Riches on "Reception History as Literary History"; and Professor Larry Hurtado on "Early Christian Manuscripts as Artefacts: An Illustrated Presentation."

This year's programmes for the seminar on Paul, Synoptic Gospels, and the Social World of the NT are now posted. We can expect the full details of the programmes for the other seminars to be made available soon.

In particular, this year's seminar on Paul proves to be very interesting compared to previous years, with papers from Francis Watson, Sean Winter, Ward Blanton, Roland Boer, Kathy Ehrensperger, and a joint paper by Cherryl Hunt, David Horrell, and Christopher Southgate.

I would to highlight the paper to be presented by NT scholar and a very dear friend, Kathy Ehrensperger, on "'Power in Pauline Discourse from a Feminist Perspective." The abstract of her paper is reproduced below:

"Paul was power conscious. This is hardly a matter of controversy. It is perceived as almost self-evident that Paul was self-consciously involved in the exercise of power. In recent scholarly debate controversy arises when it comes to the evaluation of what is perceived as fact in differing readings. Was Paul trying to impose his will and understanding of the gospel on others in order to establish a position of domination over them - or was he legitimately establishing a leadership role as the unique apostle to the gentiles?

Feminist scholars have drawn attention to the problems inherent in an image of Paul as a leader who exercised dominating power over others in order to establish a static hierarchy within the early Christ-movement, as well as the impact this image has had throughout history. If power is identical with domination and static hierarchies, the Pauline discourse witnesses to a departure from the ethos of a movement which was guided by sayings such as 'no one shall lord it over you'.

The question I will address in this paper is whether a different perception of power in the Pauline discourse emerges when alternative theories of power come into play. I am informed here by a variety of feminist theories of power which have moved beyond a concept of power as domination and power-over. It has been recognized that such models do not sufficiently account for the power of the powerless and subordinate, and also do not adequately encompass the diversity of forms of power that are present in social interaction. In response to this perceived deficiency, feminist theorists (drawing on theories of e.g. Hannah Arendt) have been developing theories of power which are attentive to the empowering dimension of power as well as to its dominating aspects, proposing a threefold perception of power as power-over, power-to and power-with. In this paper I will analyze aspects of the Pauline discourse of power, in concert with such threefold feminist perceptions of power advocating that, despite its contextual limitations, a significant discourse of empowerment emerges from such a reading."

It will be interesting to see how Kathy develops the notion of discourse of empowerment from her analysis of Pauline discourse on power. At the same time, I am also eagerly anticipating her forthcoming book, Paul and the Dynamics of Power: Communication and Interaction in the Early Christ-Movement, Library of New Testament Studies (London, New York: T&T Clark 2007), to be released by the third quarter of 2007.

I wish I could be in Exeter in September this year to participate in the British NT Conference....

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