Friday, May 02, 2008

The Big Event

Last night was pretty amazing...

Here’s the recap: There was an event at Fuller Seminary last night to launch my new book on George Eldon Ladd, an American biblical scholar who taught at Fuller from 1950-80. It’s a reworking of my doctoral thesis, and because of the link with Fuller’s history they added the launch to their series of events celebrating the seminary’s 60th anniversary year. The event involved me giving a 45 minute lecture, followed by three responses from scholars who were somehow connected with Ladd.

I went to Pasadena to have dinner with Richard and Phyllis Mouw (Rich is the president of the seminary). All of the panelists and spouses were there, and it was a good time of fellowship and conversation. They wanted to know about my work in London, and everyone seemed to have a story about being there.

At a little before 7pm we walked back to the campus. People were already milling around—there were friends from the church where I grew up in Burbank, some members of our last church in Glendale (including most of our small group), former colleagues from Fuller and the Presbyterian Foundation, and yes, most of my family (Mom, Dad, daughter, father-in-law, an aunt…you get the idea). The minister who married Julie and me drove more than three hours to come with her husband (thanks, Luanne). An intern from my church in London, who just came back to the US a week or two ago, drove up from Orange County with a minister from his church. There were also about a dozen of my former professors there, and every one of them came over to say congratulations and comment on the book.

The bookstore had a table set up where they were selling some of Ladd's books, and also mine. While I was standing around enjoying the scene, someone tapped me on the back and gave me a copy of my book and a pen. He very politely asked me to sign it, and proceeded to tell me an old story about George Ladd. The man was Colin Brown, a professor of systematic theology, and author of the three-volume Dictionary of New Testament Theology, owned (and used) by every minister I’ve ever known. I suppose I knew that I would be signing books at the event, but I never thought that the first autograph I ever gave would be for Professor Brown.

Rich Mouw called the event to order and then I gave my paper (see above), which took about 45 minutes. It was well-received (an enormous relief)—people seemed to enjoy it a lot. After a break there were three short papers: The first was by Dr. David Wallace, a former student of Ladd and a key interview in my research. The second was by Marianne Meye Thompson, the George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament. The final response was by James Bradley, the Geoffrey Bromiley Professor of Church History. We had a time of Q&A after that, and I got some good questions and a chance to talk a little more.

That's me with Richard Mouw.
Wrapping up the panel discussion.
The participants: Dave Wallace, Jim Bradley, Marianne Meye Thompson, myself and Rich Mouw (notice the book in Rich's hand...).
People milled around for a long time afterward. I got a chance to chat with all of them, sign a few more books, and generally bask in a great evening. Fuller sold out of their shipment, and there were a handful of orders placed for future copies. Afterwards I went to a restaurant across the street with some good friends and continued the party.

Like I said, last night was pretty amazing.

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