I'm just back to Ohio from a busy, productive, and stimulating week in England. Highlights include staying with Chris Keith and family in Isleworth. I'm so very lucky to have as a friend the best and brightest mind New Testament and social scientific study! Chris helped me think through a few important topics related to my latest research on ancient concepts of ethnicity.
I also met several very fine scholars at the St Mary's conference related to the function of cities in earliest Christianity. I was especially glad to connect with Daniel Ho, David Gill, Volker Rabens, Paul Trebilco, Jutta Leonhardt-Balzer, Dominic Mattos, David Horrell, Anders Runesson, Ian Paul, Piotr Ashwin-Siejkowski, and Joan Taylor. I don't mind saying that I sort of geeked out over meeting Joan. Her book on John the Baptist was among the first that I read in preparation for my MA thesis. I especially benefited from conversations with Daniel Ho, David Gill, and Paul Trebilco (a fellow Dunnite). The paper by Jutta Leonhardt-Balzer related most closely to my own work and the entire trip would have been worth it just to hear her paper: "Diaspora Jewish Attitudes to Metropoleis: Philo and Paul on City Life, Jerusalem and Rome."
I enjoyed many, many laughs and learned a great deal from my new hero Anders Runesson (pictured here with Chris and Piotr at an American-themed BBQ joint in Twickenham. Yes, such things exist! And, yes, Chris chose the location.) Anders' book boasts the distinction of being the first monograph specifically dedicated to the origins of synagogues. Oslo is surely landing a wonderful colleague and an excellent scholar.
I spent the remainder of my trip in Chichester with Jimmy and Meta Dunn. Jimmy and I worked together on a co-authored project, meandered around Chichester, and visited Chichester Cathedral. The red Chagall window is breath-taking and the Sutherland painting "Noli me Tangere" is among the few Mary Magdalene portraits that doesn't clothe her in red. A must see if you're ever in Chichester.