Saying good-bye to a fantastic department
This post properly belongs somewhere between the account of Janelle's thanksgiving service at Christ Church and the account of our journey to Strange Lands. But the updates on this site are like ancient Christian accounts of Jesus' life and teaching: they make no pretensions toward chronological accuracy as we would understand the term. That said, the Department of Biblical Studies, of the University of Sheffield (I refuse to capitalize 'the' or 'of', and I absolutely will not include the newly inaugurated full-stop; click here for an explanation), has been much more than my place of work for the last two years. So here are a few vignettes of our leaving do, which took place on Monday, 28 November 2005.
Paul and Minna, the two people with whom I spent the most time in the department, invited the rest of the faculty and staff and postgrads to Paul's flat for an informal send-off. I apologize for not having a good picture of Paul and Minna; but here's a good one of Minna holding Janelle. The occasion was well catered by the tireless Jen, who seemed to be always circulating about the room with a tray of something or other that had only just emerged from the oven. In fact, I can't remember a time when anyone was without something to chew on or something to sip on. It was such a wonderful time that, afterwards, Andrea commented that we should leave Sheffield more often just for the social occasions.
Minna and Jen have formed something of a special relationship over the last year or so, as both have undertaken (and successfully completed, it must be said) the insane task of running a distance which belongs more appropriately to the category 'Distances that Ought to be Driven in a Motorised Vehicle'. Here they are ostensibly joining in the gaity of the event, but my suspicion is that they are actually looking down at all of us unmotivated folk who couldn't walk 26.2 miles in a week. Okay, okay; I'm probably projecting my own feelings of inadequacy on these two lovely women. But it seems to me that much of the history of the world is probably the result of similar insecurities. But I digress . . .
One of the things that really impressed me about this leaving do was the calibre of guests involved. Besides internationally known scholars such as Loveday Alexander, James Crossley, Hugh Pyper, Barry Matlock, and Diana Edelman, we were also graced by the presence of (from left) Richard, Paul, Steve, and Matthew, all of whom are fellow postgrads and toilers on the field of Biblical Studies. (The adjoining picture has not been doctored in any way; Matthew really is about twice as tall as Richard.) Undoubtedly the conversation in this picture was concerned with the dating of some prominent potsherd - whether it should be assigned to 454 BCE or 424 BCE and whether it supports or undermines the account in this or that biblical text. No . . . wait just a second . . . I seem to remember these four gentlemen arguing about whether Merry or Pippin was the better hobbit. Thankfully, we managed to break up the argument before things turned to violence.
In the end I must give a heart-felt thanks to Minna and Paul for a wonderful evening. I will always remember fondly our time in Sheffield, including people who haven't been mentioned here. There may be many places in the United Kingdom where one can pursue a PhD in biblical studies, but I will always be of the opinion that Sheffield is one of the very best. Minna has commented elsewhere on WIS:
It's great to observe the warm tone with which you remember your stay inIt's true, Minna; Andrea and I will always remember Sheffield warmly. Thank you to everyone who helped us feel at home in a foreign land.