Dr. Jeff Anderson, dean of the Wayland Baptist University campus in Anchorage, was one of about 50 scholars chosen worldwide to participate in the Enoch Seminar, an invitation-only gathering of experts in the Intertestamental Period held recently in Venice, Italy.
Anderson, who completed a book on the Intertestamental (or Second Temple) Period just last year, received an invitation to the seminar from Gabriele Boccaccini, professor of Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins at the University of Michigan, after reading his book.
A professor of religion for Wayland as well as campus dean in Anchorage, Anderson said he was the only representative from a Baptist university in the group of scholars, which included participants from eight countries. He said most of the other participants were from state or national universities - though a few seminaries were represented - including several Ivy League schools.
During the four-day event, individuals participated in panel discussions according to specific interest areas, with each participant making two presentations to the group. The group then spent time discussing each presentation and sharing ideas.
"It was great to visit firsthand with other scholars in the field who are much more published than I am. They had a mixture of big-name leaders in the field and other lesser-known scholars," Anderson said. "I was really lucky to get a chance to go."
In between their more scholarly activities, the group also got to visit some historical sites in Italy, including the Cathedral of San Marcos, one of Venice's most famous cathedrals, and the Jewish Ghetto from the middle ages, the first recorded in history, and some synagogues there.
"The churches have these beautiful murals and painted ceilings," Anderson recalled. "One of the cathedrals we went to had a number of paintings by the famous Italian painter Jacopo Tintoretto."
Anderson said besides the opportunity to share with other experts, he came away from the event with a renewed appreciation for his university.
"It really made me pleased to be part of Wayland and to represent the school in that way," he said. "So many of these folks were unhappy where they are teaching, but I have so much more freedom."