(Larry Hurtado): As of 01 August, I formally retired from my post in the University as Professor of New Testament Language, Literature & Theology, and as Director of the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins. I’m pleased to note that my colleague, Dr. Helen Bond, will take the helm as Director. As the founding Director of CSCO, I am much encouraged by Helen’s readiness to take on this role.
CSCO was established by the Senatus Academicus of the University in 1997 with the aims of creating greater synergy in the study of early Christianity in the School (then Faculty) of Divinity and across the University, and of promoting the subject through research projects, conferences, etc. Our first project was in fact a conference on the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls held in 1998 here in New College. From that conference came an excellent multi-author volume: The Dead Sea Scrolls in Their Historical Context, ed. Timothy H. Lim (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000), with contributions from top scholars internationally.
One of the stated emphases of CSCO is to link New Testament studies and what has been called “early church/Patristics”, particularly focusing on the pre-Constantinian period. Indeed, we contend that “New Testament studies” must include this larger period to take account of the process by which the writings that make up the New Testament (at least the majority of them) came to be treated as scripture. I’m pleased that CSCO regularly draws PhD applicants precisely because they want to work in a setting that allows for this sort of diachronic research. Our colleagues, Drs. Sara and Paul Parvis, have been a special boon in helping to make this vision a reality.
Indicative of this emphasis was the conference on Justin Martyr sponsored by CSCO in 2006. One again, this produced a fine multi-author volume: Justin Martyr and His World, eds. Sara Parvis & Paul Foster (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007), with contributions from scholars in NT and Patristics. In 2009, CSCO sponsored a conference on Irenaeus, from which we now await another multi-author volume, forthcoming soon.
In the midst of the many duties of UK university academic staff (teaching, marking, examining, supervising, various committee duties, administrative tasks, and endless reporting on everything imaginable!), it is difficult to find the time and energy for the sort of collaborative research aims represented by CSCO. But I’m grateful to colleagues over the years of my leadership who have made CSCO work, and I trust that it will continue to do so. To my knowledge, CSCO is an unusual body in its focus (it’s hard to know if it’s unique), and I think it’s worth the effort involved. I aim to remain a member of CSCO and will continue to enjoy working with my colleagues in the study of Christian Origins.