I was excited to learn last night that Professor Gordon McConville of my own University of Gloucestershire will deliver the annual lecture at the upcoming meeting of the Institute for Biblical Research (IBR) later this year. My own research is in the area of Pauline anthropology and the question of what it means to be human particularly with regard to embodiment; so I was also excited to find that Professor McConville will be delivering a paper entitled, “‘How like an angel!’: The Challenge of Being Human.” Here’s the abstract:
Hamlet’s take on Psalm 8:5 (Act 2 Sc. 2) highlights the contradiction between the enormous potential of human beings and their mortality, ‘this quintessence of dust’. A biblical theology of humanity also moves between these poles. Human destiny is written in the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. But what does this leave to be said about human potential in a fallen world, and related concepts such as creativity, excellence, professionalism, and power? The lecture explores what the divine ascription of ‘goodness’ might mean for the human being’s sense of purpose in the world (Gen. 1:31). It finds its resources mainly but not exclusively in the Old Testament, and aims to make a contribution to Christian thinking on the subject. Key words in the approach taken are ‘embodiment’ and ‘engagement’.
I had the chance to meet Professor McConville during a visit to the University last fall, and I found him to be very kind and personable. He is certainly a world-class scholar of the Old Testament, and I’m confident that he will deliver a very stimulating lecture. Other IBR sessions are on also on the topic of “Biblical Conceptions of Humanity: The Image of God.” So, if you are going to be at SBL, it looks like the IBR sessions will be well worth attending.