Social Mediators at #AARSBL19

Social Mediators at #AARSBL19 November 18, 2019

I’ve loved, and when possible helped organize, gatherings of bloggers at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. However, I gave up thinking of it as a “bibliobloggers” gathering long ago, since I am involved in AAR as well as SBL and know that there can be long stretches during which my own blogging fails to fit into that category, when there’s a lot about science fiction and little related to the Bible. Then I gave up thinking of it as a gathering of bloggers. Twitter, online news, podcasts, Reddit, Bible Odyssey, and countless other locations bring social media of one sort or another into contact with scholarship in the field of biblical and/or religious studies.

As the number of academic bloggers has waned and then rebounded, I’ve found there to be consistent interest in meeting up face to face on rare occasions such as this one. Yet it is always impossible for us to all convene at one time and in one place due to the busy schedules we all have at the annual meeting.

And so lately I’ve been thinking that it makes less sense to try to convene for dinner, and more to try to pick a reception that most of us would go to anyway, and the rest would at least be able to tolerate.

One thing that bloggers like to do is connect with publishers, whether because we want to review their books if they will be so kind as to send them to us, or because our blogging has led us to something that ought to turn into a book.

With that in mind, rather than plan yet another competing event, why don’t we try to meet up at one or both of these receptions?

M23-514 Eerdmans Publishing Company Reception Saturday, 8:00 PM–10:00 PM Convention Center-6A (Upper Level West)

M24-532 Fortress Press Reception Sunday, 9:00 PM–11:00 PM Marriott Marquis-Marriott Grand 9 (Lobby Level)

Both of them overlap with other things – even if just other receptions – that I feel I must at least stop by in the interest of renewing old connections and making new ones. But I will definitely at least stop by both of those, and if bloggers, tweeters, op-ed writers, website and organizational Facebook page maintainers, and everyone else that might fit the category I’ve both whimsically and aspirationally called “social mediators” convene there, I am sure I will stay longer than I might otherwise have. Hope to see you there!

One of the things that the Eerdmans reception overlaps with is a NASSCAL book launch reception. I plan to try to make it to that as well. A while back I interviewed Brandon Hawk, one of the two authors whose books is being celebrated at that event. Tony Burke mentioned books to look out for at SBL, including The Mandaean Book of John. gives the release date as today!!!

Among the bloggers one might bump into is Mike Bird, who is at his best and absolute worst when he thinks he is funny. Sadly the blogosphere lost another of its own recently. On this week’s ReligionProf Podcast I’ll be focusing on a publication by another blogger who sadly passed away a few years ago, and asking you to help ensure that the book gets the attention it deserves even though its author is no longer able to promote it herself.

To conclude, some bloggers have become quite famous. And some who’ve become quite famous blog. Hence the ongoing relevance of the infographic tutorial Dave Walker created some years ago for those who wish to become a famous blogger:


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  • Thanks James for lifting up our trade as bloggers!

  • John MacDonald

    Wow, meeting with publishers sounds really cool! I have some professors who are using parts of my blog as curriculum.

    It would be really cool to do a companion hard copy book to supplement the blog, like the way they used to make lengthy in-depth manuals for video games! I do have a fair amount of religious studies material on the blog, as well as Philosophy material from the Western Continental tradition.

    The blog is complete with a unit test, though I’ve yet to do an assessment rubric for the unit test. I think my blog and a companion student manual would be great for a first year Philosophy student (or some related discipline). I wrote the blog with students in mind …. My background is Continental Philosophy and Education, so I did the blog as Writing in Role as a Star Wars Sith Lord!

    • John MacDonald

      Eg, one professor is using my blog as a model in a writing process unit for students to help scaffold them making their own blogs!