Tuesday, 18 August 2015

My Summary of the Seventh Biennial Convention of the Society for the Study of Iotas in 2 John

Last week, I attended the most recent convention of the Society for the Study of Iotas in 2 John. It was the Society’s seventh and this time held in the upstairs lounge of the Jug and Thistle, a public house on the outskirts of Market Harborough in the United Kingdom. Overnight accommodation and breakfast were provided in the local Premier Inn.

The convention opened with a stirring performance of the Greek text of 2 John by legendary stage actor, Simon Callow, dressed as a Roman orator. Mr Callow raised his fist triumphantly each time he uttered a word containing one (or more) of the epistle’s ninety-six iotas. This was followed by an excellent paper presented by Jörg Finneston. His argument focussed on the positioning of iotas in 2 John 6: Had the author of 2 John used entirely different words at this point, Finneston reasoned, the frequency and location of the iotas in 2 John 6 would likely have been very different. Finneston’s presentation once more confirmed to me the important work currently taking place on iotas in 2 John. It is an exciting time to be researching iotas in this most enigmatic of epistles.

After a short break, during which Angela, the Jug and Thistle’s resident Bichon Frise, befriended all but the most staunchly cynophobic, Dr Ellen Rugenstruckenbergerstein delivered a short paper on the author’s use of καὶ in 2 John. The paper itself summarised her recent research on 2 John 9, which contains three instances of καὶ, two of which immediately followed by τὸν. Rugenstruckenbergerstein speculated as to the reasons for this καὶ τὸν motif in 2 John 9, concluding that its presence is necessary in order to make sense of the terms ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ also present. The paper was well-argued and stimulated some animated discussion during the lunch period. (The lunch was excellent. I particularly commend the Jug and Thistle’s landlords, Maggie and Elvis, for their Inca berry jam tartlets.)

The paper immediately following lunch proved provocative. Rather than analysing the text of 2 John for iotas, Martin Whicker made an intriguing case for looking at 3 John to see if that epistle’s use of iotas could shed any light on the occurrences of iotas in 2 John. Though there was some appreciation of his intentions, the majority of the post-paper comments concluded that to include study of iotas in 3 John would be to indulge in parallelomania. I doubt Whicker was too disheartened by this response; he is a hardy soul and no stranger to controversy, as his recent 1,300-page monograph on omicrons in Jude testifies.

After Whicker’s paper, there was a longer break in the programme, which allowed participants to look at the sights of Market Harborough or play pool and darts in the Jug and Thistle’s downstairs lounge. At Elvis’s recommendation, I decided to visit the Harborough Museum; unfortunately, I took a wrong turn and found myself in a Tesco Express. By the time I had reoriented myself, I realised that the evening meal would soon be served, so I hurried back to the Jug and Thistle.

The evening meal was delicious – and the same could be said for the final paper of the convention, delivered by Professor Aakaja Ernersiaq. Professor Ernersiaq first explored the general impact of 2 John on the Inughuit of northern Greenland and then their reception of the epistle’s iotas. Ernersiaq argued that there was a need for a new working group to be established to focus on the reception of iotas in 2 John among the Inughuit, as much current funding is channelled into work among the Kalaallit of western Greenland by the Society for the Study of Iotas in Titus. This seems a good idea to me; research into 2 John as a whole is underfunded, and the popularity of Titus continues to baffle me.

I cannot recommend membership of the Society for the Study of Iotas in 2 John highly enough. The Society undertakes important research, and its journal – Not Just One Iota – makes it available to a wider audience. The next convention of the Society is due to take place in August 2017; a school in Mooloolah Valley, Australia, is the provisional venue.

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