This past weekend North Park Theological Seminary held their annual symposium and this year the theme was Conversion. This symposium results in the yearly publication Ex Auditu published by Wiph & Stock. The list of presenters and respondents was impressive with the likes of Scot McKnight (North Park), Markus Bockmuehl (Oxford), Michael Gorman (St. Mary’s), J. Warren Smith (Duke), Lewis Rambo (San Francisco Theological Seminary), Stephen Chester (North Park), J. Andrew Dearman (Fuller), George Kalantzis (Wheaton) and Wyndy Corbin Reuschling (Ashland).
Unfortunately, I was not able to make many of the papers due to teaching and commitments at home, but I did attend McKnight’s, Bockmeuhl’s and Smith’s. Each of these were interesting and enlightening. Scot’s paper was on the perennial question was Paul converted or called. Using social science he argued that Paul was converted, but provocatively he asserted that Paul remained a Jew and probably maintained much of his former Jewish practice, although Scot was reluctant to say to what extent Paul practiced Torah.
Markus gave the kind of paper you come to expect from him. He addressed Peter’s conversion, which is not provided in Luke’s narrative in either Luke or Acts, by attempting to ascertain the footprint left in early Christianity using early Christian art, apocryphal anecdotes from the Gospel of Peter and later New Testament texts. It was excellently written both interesting and informing. I continue to be awed by Markus’ grasp of ancient sources: Jewish and Christian. Michael Gorman gave a very thoughtful response to Markus’ paper that spurred a very good discussion.
Warren gave a fascinating paper on Ambrose’s homilies on the patriarch Joseph which form the climax of his catechesis for those being baptized during Holy Week. He showed among other things that Ambrose’s figurative reading of the Joseph story led him to conclude that the Jews would turn to Christ and be saved at the end of the age. Perhaps most interesting was Ambrose’s claim that this would be paradoxically as a result of the person of Saint Paul.
I suppose what was most enjoyable was to see Markus whom I hadn’t seen in a good deal of time. It was fun to have him experience North Park and I even had a chance to show him my small office. I also had the chance to meet Michael Gorman for the first time which was a real treat as I have admired his work for some time. In addition, I had a great conversation over dinner with Andrew Dearman, who was very curious about my views on Paul. Andrew is a great guy and I appreciated how interested he was in my work. It was also good to get reacquainted with Wyndy Corbin Reuschling whom I had met at Tyndale House in 2006 while I was in Cambridge for my Ph.D. viva.