official and authoritative report on the EXTREMELY VITAL Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Baltimore

I just got back home from my trek to the annual major nerd geek fest called the Society of Biblical Literature meeting (“SBL” to insiders), where biblical scholars and doctoral students gather once a year, some to mark their territory, others to claim pack dominance, and still others to obsess over their intellectual inadequacies. In my case, all three simultaneously.

Some scattered thoughts.

So many people, each a different story, each believing what they believe in their own way. Respect.

So very life-affirming to see old friends and laugh together over old and new. (Names withheld to protect the innocent.)

I made some new friends, and, like each year, met some students struggling with how to hold together a familiar faith with new paradigms–sometimes prefaced with, “If anyone knew I was speaking with you, I’d be in big trouble.” No I’m not kidding.

Did a podcast interview with Randal Rauser, which should be up soon.

Shout out to my homie publishers I met with: Katya Covrett (Zondervan), Jim Kinney (Baker), Robin Parry (Wipf & Stock), Michael Thomson (Eerdmans), David Congdon and Dan Reid (IVP), Mickey Maudlin (HarperOne), and Kathy Helmers (my agent).

Major shout out to my friend C. L. Seow for giving me a signed copy his magisterial Job commentary  (volume 1). Now I am better than the rest of you.

Met Desmond Tutu’s daughter Mpho. Cool.

SBL should switch it up and stop giving us free tote bags. How about an iPad. Mini. With retina display. Throw in a smart cover.

T00 many papers that were too boring and too long. A little effort, please. Earn the right to take up our valuable time. Though also a lot of fine moments.

Baltimore taxis are expensive.

It was fun walking through the cavernous book display area, which if done right would take weeks. Not sure what the square acreage is, but it’s probably

1/10 of a Saturday morning SBL coffee line. Doesn’t have to be Starbucks folks.

larger than the ground Jesus covered his entire lifetime. I’d love to know what the total gross receipts were for the 4-day conference.

Thanks to Ray Van Leeuwen, Benj Giffone, David Lamb, and Peter Radford for riding together in my old van and not even once complaining about the sagging ceiling.

Judging by the crowds, academics drink coffee or alcohol. Nothing else.

Definition of hell: a zillion academics trying to get to their meetings with one slow functioning elevator. Biblical scholars break several commandments while waiting.

Those name tags they give us make me feel like a licensed dog–but if I take it off, how will anyone know who I am? One of many pressing philosophical crises attendees face.

Few things stress me out more that maintaining eye-contact with someone whose name I forgot without too obviously glancing at their name tags, only to do so and see the tag is flipped around to the blank side. “Name-side-out” tag wearing is a common courtesy, folks. What are we, animals?

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