I recently attended for the first time the British New Testament Conference (BNTC) held at King’s College London. Here are a few brief reflections on the experience.
1. One of the main reasons academics attend conferences is to renew old friendships and make new ones. This being my first trip to BNTC, I was engaged in much more of the latter than the former. I was excited to meet quite a few other Ph.D. candidates and hear about their research. It was also good to put a face to many who I’ve never met but whose books and articles I’ve read. One highlight was having coffee with N.T. Wright, whose work has been particularly influential on me. Our discussion focused more on the joys and challenges of living in both academic and ecclesiastic worlds.
2. On a related note, while BNTC has no confessional requirements, there were many present who are active in the church and see their work as service to the church. Given my own conviction that the divide between church and academy is unhelpful, it was very encouraging to meet not a few who are committed both to rigorous scholarship and love for the church.
3. Attendees at many academic conferences commonly hop in and out of seminars to catch individual papers that are of interest to them. BNTC was the first conference I’ve attended at which participants are encouraged to remain in the same seminar for the duration of the conference. It will be no surprise that I attended the Paul seminar. There were a number of good papers, and having the same group together in each session gave the conversation coherence and allowed opportunity for summary comments on what was learned and on what fruitful work might emerge from the discussion.
4. There were four plenary sessions, some of which I found helpful. I particularly appreciated that one of the plenaries was devoted to a panel session on the state and future of British New Testament studies. Not being resident at my University, this conversation helped me to gain some perspective on the discipline of which I’m a part.
All in all, I had a very good conference and look forward to future opportunities to attend and participate.