SBL 2022: Recommendations for New Folks and My Conference Schedule

SBL 2022: Recommendations for New Folks and My Conference Schedule November 9, 2022

I am excited about this SBL, because I haven’t gone in a few years. Below you will find out where and what I am presenting and some of the fun things I recommend for students and scholars new to the weird, wild world of the SBL/AAR.

Recommendations for New Attendees

(I did a post in 2019 on SBL and Imposter Syndrome, check it out)

(1) It’s okay to be a fan. You will probably spot your favorite scholars walking to and fro, and you will wonder if it is okay to say hi, take a pic, etc. I think it is fine. This is the one time of the year that scholars are all together, and most scholars seem to be fine with a quick hello. Don’t force them into a long conversation. Say a hello, maybe snap a pic if you like, and move on. A few memories of mine: I spotted Moody Smith at a breakfast place. He was in line. I jumped up, stood in line with him, and shared my appreciation for his work. Also: one fine evening I was rushing from one hotel to the next, and who was walking in the opposite direction? Miroslav Volf and Jürgen Moltmann (wow!). A few years ago, John Goodrich and I hosted Ed Sanders for his last public appearance at SBL—talk about a legend. And very kind too.

(2) Plan ahead to connect with folks. Use social media to figure out who you might know that is going, and message them/email to meet up. SBL can get very busy and crazy (and sometimes lonely), I always plan out my schedule to see folks.

(3) Be curious and make friends. I hate the word “networking,” don’t look at this as a business strategy. Just meet folks, smile, be nice, make some new friends. Don’t be snobby. Don’t be uppity. Don’t play us vs. them games of who is conservative, liberal, confessional, ex-whatever etc. This is ComicCon for Bible nerds, you are all there as fellow nerds.

(4) If you are presenting for the first time: Keep your paper to the time slot (or shorter!), don’t panic during q & a, and see this not as your professional debut, but a chance to get feedback on your research and share your research with interested folks. In my early conference papers, I was waaaaay too defensive. People actually told me that, and they were right. My insecurities got the best of me, sometimes they still do. Smile, have a good time. Learn something.

(5) It’s okay to rest. I’m talking to myself here. I used to overload my schedule with things to do. Then I was sick and exhausted come Monday or Tuesday. Give yourself from time just to reflect, wander the book halls, enjoy a cup of coffee or glass of beer.

(6) Thank volunteers and hotel/conference workers. Things will go wrong at SBL, they always do. It’s not the end of the world. Go out of your way to thank SBL volunteers and the venue workers. Too many people are rude, you can be nice.

(7) It’s okay to leave a session between papers, but if you know you are going to do that, sit in the back. Not everybody agrees on this, but when I am presenting and a whole bunch of people get up and walk out, it does hurt a bit even though I know it’s not a protest! 🙂

(8) Bring snacks and medication. Conference food is expensive and not very healthy. Bring your favorite snacks to keep you energized, and things like Tylenol in case you need it.

(9) Go out of your way to thank presenters, especially students (who are often nervous). As we all know, it can be stressful to present your research and solicit feedback. After the session, go give students a little “good job, enjoyed your paper!” A little word goes a long way.

(10) Plan your book spending budget ahead of time, and leave a little room for impulse. There is nothing more dangerous than wandering into the book exhibit with no budget. Too many good books and deals. Look at book catalogs ahead of time to decide on what you really need and want. But also leave $20 for an impulse purchase. Sometimes, there are deep discount sales going on on the last day (Tuesday), but I don’t stay until Tuesday most years.

Where I will be at SBL

Friday Nov 18

3:30-5:30IBR Pauline Theology Seminar (jointly with Enoch Seminar)

We have planned a multi-year study of Paul and Judaism. This year we are excited to host Gabriele Boccaccini, Lynn Cohick, and Doug Campbell. It’s going to be great!

7pm-9pm: IBR Annual Lecture

This is a great “big lecture” event with 500-800 in attendance on a regular basis. David deSilva will talk about “Sanctification, the Spirit, and Salvation,” with responses from Tim Gombis and Erin Heim. Reception to follow with coffee and desserts (and a free book for members of IBR).

Saturday Nov 19

1:00-3:30pmScripture and Paul Seminar

I was invited to give a paper on Jewish Scripture and 1 Thessalonians. My paper is entitled, “Called to Consecration: Jewish Holiness, Roman Piety, and Moral Discourse in 1 Thessalonians.” Other presenters are Jeff Weima and Douglas Farrow. We are going full-geek on 1 Thess. Love it.

7pm-8pm SBL Presidential Address

SBL VP Musa Dube will be introducing SBL president Adele Yarbro Collins, and the latter will present on “Ethics in Paul and Paul in Ethics.”

Sunday, Nov 20

9am-10:30am: Institute for Biblical Research Students Coffee Hour

I was invited to talk to students about my advice for setting themselves up well for the future as academics and writers. I am told there will be some freebie books on offer, please stop by! (Or else it will be just Kevin, Melissa, and me)

8pm-10pm: Durham University Reception 

I always look forward to catching up with friends at the Durham reception. If you are considering PhD programs, pop in to the reception and have a chat with some of the faculty, students, and alum. I had a wonderful experience at Durham, I am happy to chat with prospective students, though I graduated well over a decade ago!

Monday Nov 21

1:00-3:30pm: Paul and Politics Session

I am presenting on ” ‘I Am Plancia Magna’: Rethinking Roman Patriarchy, Women, and Early Christianity.” This is some advanced research I am doing on Roman social economics. Other presenters are Edward Pillar, Philip Erwin, Linda Joelsson, and B.G. White.

You may notice I don’t go to many sessions. #1: I get burned out pretty quickly, #2, I plan a lot of meetings to catch up with friends, talk to publishers, and I have some board events and meetings that take up time. I try to go to 1 or 2 sessions a day, but honestly I am more excited to just roam the book exhibit and bump into old friends and make new ones.




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