Report on SBL 2011

Report on SBL 2011 November 23, 2011

Undoubtedly like many of you, I just finished a great weekend at SBL SF! Great to catch up with friends, old and new, like Durham friends Ben Blackwell, John Goodrich, and Kristian Bendoraitis.

Ben’s brand new dissertation was available at the Mohr Siebeck stall: Christosis. Congrats Ben!

I felt that the Institute for Biblical Research put on a very good program on Friday night and Saturday morning on the theme of “Global Readings of Scripture,” featuring a special lecture and response by M. Daniel Carroll R. and K.K. Yeo. I was given the privilege of giving a short response to a paper by David deSilva on Saturday morning. David is such a gifted scholar and speaker – it was hard not to simply praise his work for the entire response!

This year I was so busy catching up with friends that I did not make it to many sessions, but I did get to participate as a reviewer in a panel discussion on Luke Timothy Johnson’s award-winning book Among the Gentiles. It was very humbling and also very exciting to respond to the book and have a lively and engaging discussion with such an eminent scholar. Johnson is energetic, funny, and a quick-thinker! “Meet Luke Timothy Johnson” – I can scratch that one off of my bucket list!

On Friday, I took part in a planning session for a new set of working groups for Institute for Biblical Research (IBR). I have the honor of co-chairing a new group (launching next year) on “The Relationship Between the Old Testament and the New Testament.” We had a brainstorming session and our group had a great turnout. I got to meet some great folks working within this subject and I finally got to meet one of my favorite scholars – Brian Rosner. In a month or two, I will post what we will be up to next year for this group – whatever we decide, I think it will be very interesting to a wide group of people! Stay tuned. If you are a member of IBR and you are interested in this subject, send me a note in the comments and I will add you to our mailing list.

What about books? As I have transitioned from my PhD study to full-time teaching, I spend more time in the book stalls looking for good textbooks, rather than specialized (and expensive!) monographs. I picked up a few potential textbooks, but nothing new or especially noteworthy. I don’t think there were any “WOW”-worthy books to mention, except perhaps the Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics from Baker. Also a big thanks to Baker for supplying IBR members with a copy of Joel Green’s new book Practicing Theological Interpretation.

If you went to the Eisenbrauns booth, you may have seen both of the first two volumes of the Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters which Mike Bird and I edit. So far we have been blessed with a good start and some excellent contributions. If you work in Paul, please do submit your articles manuscripts for consideration. We have a very fine editorial board and Eisenbrauns does a very good job producing the journal.

What about the location – SF? My wife and I stayed at the Best Western which was not in a nice part of town, so that dampened my experience. Also the Hilton and Marriott were a bit too far for running back and forth in the rain. Still, it was warm enough that I preferred it over Boston (from a few years back)! Wiley-Blackwell was kind enough to give me, as a free gift, a Frommer’s guide to Chicago in view of next year. Yeah!

There were a few folks I sort of randomly got to know better this year, and I think all three of them are young(er) scholars who will eventually become major players in their various sectors of NT studies: Joey Dodson, Chris Skinner, and Joel Willitts. That is, in fact, my favorite part of SBL. Just finding opportunities to connect with like-minded people, encouraging one another, and dreaming about projects to work together on!

Receptions? I had a good time at King’s College London’s fine evening bash, with an entertaining MC-spiel by the ever-jovial Richard Burridge. I popped into the Asbury reception as well. David Bauer has a new shaven-head look – lookin’ good Dean! I did not make it to Durham’s Sunday evening reception, but I had spent plenty of time with the Durham crew anyhow, so missing a little wine and cheese was not too much of a loss.

What did I buy? Not much. I picked by P.B. Payne’s Man and Woman: One in Christ which is actually from 2009, but I have had an interest in getting it. On a whim I also picked up from Hendrickson a collection of excerpts from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer called Reflections on the Bible (2004). I nice short little book that caught my interest. Because I teach a little course on Christian Formation, the third edition of Alister McGrath’s Theology: The Basics (2011?) caught my eye and I snatched it. Finally, since I got Bauckham’s Jesus: A Short Introduction a short while ago and enjoyed it thoroughly, I ordered at the conference Luke Timothy Johnson’s volume on The New Testament: A Short Introduction (2010) for a potential textbook.

Next year – Chicago. Should be fun, though it was nice to not change time zones going from Seattle to San Francisco.

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