Thursday, March 12, 2009

Edinburgh Travel Journal

Yesterday I came home from a sunny Scotland to a snowy Sweden, after a four-day travel to Edinburgh, as visiting Northern Scholar for 2008/2009. Larry Hurtado fetched me at the airport at my arrival on Sunday and I spent a nice evening with him and his family. I really enjoyed his company and hospitality the whole visit. I was invited to dinner every evening, one time at a nice Italian restaurant together with three of his Ph.D. students. Otherwise, I stayed at this nice guest house, Kenvie House in this room.

On Monday it was time for the official guest lecture. It was a revised and longer version of the SBL paper "Earth Accuses Earth: Tracing What Jesus Wrote on the Ground". Unfortunately there was a scheduling conflict so that the church historians could not attend because of another seminar. Nevertheless, there were some twenty people gathered, including the NT lecturers Larry Hurtado, Paul Foster and Helen Bond, and many Ph.D. students. In connection with the presentation I received the special New College Tea Mug, as a fine souvenir and memory. Later on, I also received another present, the fine book on Justin Martyr and His Worlds (eds. Sara Parvis and Paul Foster).

I was surprised to see so many Ph.D. students just in the NT, but, of course, these fine scholars naturally attract students from all over the world. One of Larry's students, Daniel Johansson, was even from my old hometown in Sweden. We had gone to the same school as kids (but not at the same time). Amazing! Another nice woman was from Singapore, and then a whole bunch from the US of course. I had already met one of them, the very promising Ph.D. student Dieter Roth at the SBL in Boston (who also took the two photos of me). In this article in SBL Forum, he reflects on his choice of the Ph.D. Program in Edinburgh. I am very interested in following his project on Marcion's Gospel (modeled upon Ulrich Schmid's work on Marcion und Sein Apostolos).

On Tuesday around 11AM I sat with some staff in their coffee room when suddenly the fire alarm went off. I asked Helen Bond, "Is that the fire alarm?" O, yes, but it is just a test," she said. There was a fire alarm test every Thursday at 11 sharp. After a little while, after someone had come in and wondered if we shouldn't evacuate, we all realized that it was Tuesday and not Thursday! So out we went, (almost) all people in the house and gathered outside on the pavement. After a while the fire brigade came. It was a false alarm, as expected. But in this way I got to see practically everyone in the whole department.

The same day, at 4PM I delivered the second paper in the research seminar, a somewhat less formal context, but basically with the same audience. The topic was "Implications of Textual Criticism for Understanding the 'Original Text'." This was followed by another stimulating discussion, and I took home with me some good ideas for another project I am suppose to finish before March (on the early text of Matthew for a collected volume).

On Wednesday it was time to travel home again, but I had some hours in the morning to spend in Edinburgh, so I had time to buy some presents for the family. During this long walk I passed the area where I had been three years earlier at the ISBL in Edinburgh, 2006. On the bus to the airport, some Swedish ladies happened to enter the bus just after me. Apparently they had also flewn in on Sunday on the same flight and were now heading home to Sweden too. At 10PM I finally came home, quite exhausted after hours of waiting, flying, waiting, and another bustravel. But I look back to a really nice experience, and I look forward to going to Edinburgh again in the future.


  1. Thank you for coming to Edinburgh and especially for the papers you presented here. I think we are also all quite pleased that New College was not actually burning to the ground around you! Hopefully, though, there will be fewer than three years between now and your next visit.

    Best Wishes,
    Dieter Roth

  2. Dieter, it was very nice to meet you in Edinburgh! I look forward to seeing you again in New Orleans.

  3. I'd love to see one or both of the papers, unless you plan on publishing them somewhere, in which case, do tell where.

  4. theswain (=Larry Swain I presume), thank you for your interest. The first paper about what Jesus wrote will be published in Harvard Theological Review (hopefully this year), and the second paper on the nature of the "original text" will be published in a collection of essays, Mark and Matthew, etc, edited by Anders Runesson and Eve-Marie Becker in the WUNT series. I actually indicated this in a previous blogpost, preparation for Edinburgh...