Well, here I am at the airport. Haven't blogged for a while because I've been rushed off my feet - something Christians the world over feel apparently, according to new research brought to my attention this morning by Christian Research.
I'm sitting in an airport waiting for my daughter to arrive back from her holiday. I knew I was in trouble when she sent a text saying that she wasn't now due to take off for half an hour ,five minutes after she was supposed to have landed here. Ah the joys of international travel!
So, a chance to catch up. I've been reading quite a lot about the link between the New Testament and the Roman Empire. This is partly in preparation for a series we're doing in Colossians this month - based on Walsh and Keesmaat's Colossians Remixed (a book by turns brilliant and irritating) - and partly to clear the ground ahead of my meeting next week with my MA supervisor.
So, I've read papers by Harry Maier on imperial language in Colossians and by Justin Meggitt on the influence of imperial rhetoric and imagery on the New Testament. Maier's piece is fascinating and well written but he holds to a view of the authorship of Colossians that seems a tad unnecessary, not to say contradictory. He argues that it's pseudonymous (that is, not written by Paul but by someone else in his name), along with lots of scholars. The particular view of the letter's origins that he holds to is that of 'pseudonymous co-authorship with Paul in the early 60s' (a case first made by Eduard Schweizer). How can it be pseudonymous if Paul was at least its co-author? Isn't that what it says at the beginning of the letter, that it comes from Paul and Timothy? Might not Timothy have had a significant role in shaping the letter in co-operation and consultation with the imprisoned apostle?
I'm becoming increasingly interested in the power of images in the empire and in particular the kind of art that adorned the walls of the homes in which the early followers of Jesus met. This feeds into my desire to grapple with the effect of domestic space and arrangements on the shape of the early Jesus movement - not just its social shape but also its theological shape.
I've also begun reading Ian McEwan's Atonement - I know I should have read it long before the film came out but I just haven't got round to it.