This was a great and very successful conference and very much Ward Blanton's baby. It didn't have the feel of a biblical studies conference as such though there were, obviously, biblical scholars (or at least people conventionally lablelled 'biblical scholars') present and presenting. This was a very good thing from the perspective of biblical studies (and non-biblical studies presumably) because it got some of 'our' stuff out there. There should be much more of this sort of thing: nothing like a load of different voices to provoke thinking.
Badiou's play, The Incident at Antioch, has yet to be published (out later this year I believe and, I think, will be published in English before French). Extracts from the play (a real catch for the conference) were read off scripts by actors who seemed to be linked with Glasgow/Glasgow University in someway and with some pretty impressive performances. The content of the play has some classic debates over Marxism (and such debates continued well into the night - another reason in favour of these multi-disciplinary things) and it'll be fun to read/see in full. But the stand out moment for me was the interview with Badiou because it really clarified his not-always-easy-to-read-and-understand book, Saint Paul: The Foundations of Universalism (1997). In fact he was very clear and coherent as were the questions.
In one sense Badiou's reading comes across as a secular Lutheran reading (if that makes sense) and strong echoes of the so-called 'old perspective' (this point came out in John Barclay's paper). It actually further convinced me that a lot of that tradition might actually be reading Paul right, even if the reading of Judaism is very suspect. Even though I think the reading is right, I do have problems - and maybe I'm paranoid here - with the hard or radical universalist reading because when abstracted so vigorously it is not difficult to make the move to the non-libertarian Marxist tradition by which I mean totalitarianism (cf. E.P. Thompson's critique of Althusser in The Poverty of Theory). All equal in Marx or Stalin? Now, I'm certainly NOT claiming that of Badiou so I ask: am I being too paranoid here in worrying about this development...? Also, the theological reading might be right but again there are similar dangers. Christianity did become Rome, after all. Moreover, it's all well and good talking about all being equal in Christ, no slaves, no male or female and so on but the oppositions remained and remained for Paul. Isn't there a case of false consciousness here...? I dunno. I'm speculating a little. But I'll ask again: am I being fair?
Incidentally, Badiou talked about four groups who need to come together even though the state will to the very best to prevent this. One was students as a potentially radical group. Those academics based in England immediately thought, I suspect, this as a particularly French thing but it was noted the next day that in Glasgow some some students had taken control of some computer centre at the university (one way to stop a modern university in its tracks) and actually won some demands on Gaza, including studentships for Gazan students. On the other hand, we were also told that some students were sprawling 'Free Gazza' (a football/soccer reference for those outside)...