Filming an interview with Seminary Now


My Talk on “Paul in his ancient pluralistic environment” at IBR Unscripted


It was a packed conference at IBR-SBL 2023 in San Antonio. I overbooked my engagements: 2 formal papers and a TEDx style talk with IBR Unscripted. For the IBR session by the History of Biblical Interpretation research group, I presented the history and course content of my Intercultural Readings of the Bible class, about how it started at the request of North Park Seminary students in 2009, how the course content changed with every class’s subsequent feedback, incluidng the addition of ethnic history studies on Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latino/a Americans in a North American context, and how the experiential component or field trips were also added as essential building blocks for the course. I was encouraged to see so many scholars interested in the class and their questions about how to teach a similar in course in their contexts. A short article I wrote on Intercultural Readings of the Bible summarizes part of what I presented on Friday Nov 17, 2023 

The following day Saturday Nov 18th, I stepped out of my comfort zone and without notes (though I memorized the outline and select pivotal sections) gave a TEDx style talk for a quick 15min at the Institute for Biblical Research (IBR) session Unscripted. In my presentation entitled “Paul in his ancient pluralistic environment: moving beyond Greco-Roman ‘backgrounds‘,” I proposed moving passed old questions of origins and the sources for Paul’s thought and described a new paradigm for engaging Greco-Roman paralllels and intertexts with the New Testament. My essay in Practicing Intertextuality covers much of what I said with some new and fresh examples. I described 7 interaction types of how rival religious and philosophical groups engaged with one another’s religious, social and ethical tenets and posited how some of these interactions types are demonstrated in the New Testament. Along the way, I ultimately made my case for jettisioning the term “backgrounds.” Since it was less a paper and more of conversation-style talk with a larger Q&A time with the audience, I even got a chance to act out a scene of biblical scholars lobbing parallel texts [like grenades] at one another from opposing camps [of interpretation] which I thought broke the ice. It was surprised to find I enjoyed this session the most! 

My last paper was on Tues Nov 21st, an invited plenary presentation on “Intertextuality Beyond the Judaism/Hellenism Divide” for the Biblical Greek Language and Linguistic Section of the Society of Biblical LIterature. I covered broader topics on what is intertextuality but essentially it was a formal and expanded presentation of my Unscripted talk at IBR.

I also squeezed in a filmed interview with SeminaryNow about why theological education matters. Whew! A conference blitz. Glad I could end the conference flying to California visiting parents and spending the holiday with them before returning home to Chicago.