Edinburgh Canon Conference
I’m a bit tardy in commenting on the day-conference held here on 6 May: “Power, Authority, and Canon,” which brought together a small galaxy of scholars on questions about the process by which certain writings came to be treated as “scriptures” and what it meant to do so. The conference was organized by my Edinburgh colleague, Professor Timothy Lim, who himself is a major contributor to scholarly analysis on the topic, with his recent book: The Formation of the Jewish Canon (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013).
Those presenting (in the order of their presentations) were John J. Collins (on uses of Torah in the second-temple period), Michael Satlow (on “bad prophecies,” i.e., how books that contain unfulfilled prophecy were included among “scriptures”), Manfred Oeming (proposing that the dynamics of canon-formation go deeply back into Israel’s history), Timothy Lim (arguing that divine “inspiration” doesn’t seem to have been all that decisive a criterion for canonicity), John Barton (exploring how much the contents of scriptural writings matters for faith-communities), Walter Moberly (a critique of a recent effort at redrawing the NT canon), Craig Evans (exploring Gospel reports of Jesus’ attitude toward scriptures), and Shaye Cohen (offering concluding reflections on the conference).
Our Martin Hall was full for the conference, which drew attendance from several UK universities, as well as from Germany, Lithuania, Canada, and the USA. There were animated discussions in response to papers and in the breaks for coffee and lunch, indicating that the topic continues to hold a lively interest. Lim is working with presenters toward publication of a volume arising from the conference.