Normally, I say, “That was a great conference! Too bad you missed it!” But this time is different. In June, I attended the Infusion Bible Conference in Tennessee (formerly the Institute of Biblical Context, held in Michigan), with this year’s focus on “Paul and His Roman World,” and it was phenomenal. It’s only a three-day conference, but they have packed so much into this time that you walk away feeling that you’ve just had a semester-long course.
The presentations are intentionally shorter, so a speaker will focus on a specific topic for 15 minutes, and then they’re off to the next subject. If you’re familiar with TED talks, the style is similar to that—tight, punchy, and well-prepared. But the topics are unlike any you’ll find at TED or on YouTube or even in most churches. (There’s a good reason for that: churches rightly prioritize teaching biblical passages, and this conference provides the cultural backgrounds for those biblical texts.)
I’m not posting about this just to tell you what a tremendous opportunity you missed, but to alert you to a second chance. The conference on “Paul and His Roman World” will be held again in the Denver area on November 8-10. They’ve never done a “repeat conference,” but I think the organizers were motivated by (1) how excellent this conference was; (2) the impact of Covid on people’s planning for summer travels; and (3) an enthusiastic invitation from a church in Colorado.
There are about 40 talks, including these:
- A Clash of Kingdoms
- What’s in a Name?
- People Snapshots: Poor, Wealthy, Women, Slaves, etc.
- The Roman and Christian Household Code
- Roman View on Sexuality
- Roman Religion and Emperor Worship
- Roman Baths
- “My Domus is Your Domus!”
- Land and Sea Travel
- Death, Hope, and Eternal Life
- The Sanctity of Suffering
The three speakers are all outstanding: Brad Gray, Randy Smith, and Brad Nelson.
As I mentioned, everything is extremely well-prepared, and a tremendous benefit is that every conference attendee gets a conference notebook of 150 pages loaded with the speakers’ notes that frees you from extensive notetaking.
I recommend the IBC as the best conference I know of for understanding the cultural, historical, archaeological backgrounds of the Bible. Early bird registration is open now until September 30, and there is a virtual option as well.