Archive for the ‘sbl’ Category
Friday, 3.30-5.30pm, Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar
This was a discussion of Ellen Davis’s ‘Scripture, Culture and Agriculture’. Craig Bartholomew and David Moessner responded to the book, then Ellen Davis responded to them, and then there was general discussion. The focus of the book is an agrarian reading of the Old Testament, drawing attention to various models of land care. She notes, for example, the importance of the term ‘seed’ in Genesis 1, with respect to the plants given for food. She observes the fragility but also the extraordinary richness of the land which the Israelites were given to farm. She points out that in iron-age Israel, the division between rural and urban was not nearly so sharp as it is today, and that most people were more-or-less directly dependent on their land. Both respondents raised the question of the effect of the new covenant on this issue and there was some discussion about this. It was an interesting and stimulating session and I think the seminar is doing some really good work.
Saturday, 1-3.30pm, Ancient Hebrew Poetry: Linguistics and Literary Approaches
Christo van der Merwe: Explaining Word Order in the Book of Joel
I think Christo’s point was that although there are more examples of non-standard word order in poetic texts such as Joel, the reasons why the word order varies are the same as in non-poetic texts.
Randall Buth: Multiple Frontings in Poetry
Um, it happens sometimes? One thing is fronted for contextualisation and the other for focus. I don’t know that I have any more to say about that.
Eep Talstra: Word Order, Clausal Hierarchy and Syntactic Function
Eep is producing a syntactic database of the OT. I am sure it will be very useful.
Pierre van Hecke: Word Order in Clauses with Haya
Sometimes these are copular (a is b) and sometimes existential (there is X). One of these has a particular word order, but I would need to check my notes to tell you which it is and what the word order is.
Saturday 4-5pm, Recovering Female Interpreters of the Bible
Michael Graves: Marcella of Rome – Technical Exegesis as an Expression of Piety
We know about Marcella from her correspondence with Jerome. She apparently asked him lots of searching and insightful questions, for which he valued her.
Al Wolters: Ann Francis (1738-1800) on the Song of Songs
Ann Francis was the wife of a Norfolk clergyman who wrote several volumes of poetry, including a Poetical Translation of the Song of Songs, published in the eighteenth century and read by several eminent OT scholars of the day. She included notes on her translation based on her understanding of the Israelite landscape, flora and fauna. Interestingly, she discerned three voices in the Song: one male, one Jewish female and one Gentile female, and she did not interpret the Song allegorically. I’d like to track down her translation one day.
That’s it for now. Will report on Sunday and Monday, and my paper, later.
My feelings about SBL in general have not changed since the last time I went in 2006. There’s an awful lot of self-promotion and self-aggrandisement going on, not to mention the profiteering in the exhibition hall. However, I have to admit that I have enjoyed myself a lot more this time. Mainly this is because I know more people and have had more things lined up to fill the time. So, here’s my summary of how it went:
Friday: On the same flight from Philly to New Orleans as my former PhD advisor. Lots of time to catch up while waiting for the airport shuttle bus to our hotels. Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar discussing Ellen Davis’s book, ‘Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture’. Interesting discussions at the seminar and also over dinner, where I was at a table with another HTC student and a guy who is at Tyndale House.
Saturday: Started very early with the Tyndale House American Alumni breakfast. I checked everyone in, got to eat the breakfast, then had several useful conversations about the Tyndale Fellowship and Tyndale House. I think quite a lot of people appreciated having the chance to talk to someone on the admin staff, as well as the research fellows. In the afternoon, I gave my paper. I think that probably needs its own post. Dinner with old friends in the evening.
Sunday: Went to hear a friend’s paper in the morning and then we went for lunch together afterwards. Some interesting papers in the Hebrew Poetry section in the afternoon. In the evening, I’d arranged to meet a friend at the King’s College reception – these receptions with free food and drinks are excellent things for poor students.
Monday: Chatted to the Masons this morning, then went to a cookery demonstration at the New Orleans School of Cookery. The chef was Big Kevin (who some of my British readers may remember from the TV series Big Kevin, Little Kevin on BBC2 a few years ago). He was both hilarious and an excellent cook. We had biscuits with dark, thick cane syrup, then red beans and rice, cornbread, pecan pie and pralines. It was all delicious and I really shouldn’t have had seconds of everything but it was just too good to resist. Today was the first day it’s been sunny since I arrived in New Orleans, so after lunch I went for a walk along the river and a little bit around the French Quarter. This evening, I’m going to a dinner that John Hobbins has organised, and then tomorrow I’ll be flying home.
I’ve finally found a chance to go through the programme for SBL and I’m encouraged to see that there are a number of papers on the Song:
Saturday, 9.00-11.30 am: F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp, The Ekphrastic Image in Song 5:9-16
Saturday, 1.00-3.30 pm: Me, Poetic Structure of Song 7:12-14
Saturday, 4.00-7.00 pm: Al Wolters, Ann Francis (1738-1800) on the Song of Songs
Sunday, 9.00-11.30 am: Janet A. Timble, The interpretation of the Song of Songs in the Pachomian Koinonia: “Reading” Community
Monday, 1.00-3.30pm: Sarah Zhang, The fine line between One and the Other in Song 5:2-9
Okay, so we won’t be calling for our own section any time soon, but at least I’m not the only one. And, pleasingly, they are all on at different times, so I think I will try and get to all of them. I’m afraid I have just had to Google ‘Pachomian Koinonia’ to find out what that’s about, and I’ve never heard of Ann Francis either (looking forward to that paper a lot, though).
If I’ve missed any, do let me know.
I am in Scotland and there is a rainbow. This is a good thing since it reminds me that God’s love is faithful and sure.
This morning I had an email to say that my paper proposal for this year’s SBL conference in November has been accepted. I was very excited to hear this. Then I got an email listing all the other presenters in that section. Now I am very afraid indeed.
It is a joint session between the Hebrew Poetry section and the Hebrew Linguistics section which means that there are a lot of VERY good Hebraists presenting. I am no more than a mediocre Hebraist on a good day.
More than that, the person whose methodology I have adapted and used in my paper will also be presenting. This is a good thing since I don’t yet know how to pronounce his name, but it is clearly also a very frightening thing since he will immediately be able to spot the flaws in my paper.
Still, it does mean that I can apply for funding from UHI to pay for the costs of going to the conference. And most excitingly, since I have to have a layover somewhere, I am planning to go via Philadelphia and spend a few days visiting all my friends in Glenside.
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A little while ago I blogged about why I’m not going to SBL this year. And all of those reasons are still valid – especially the lack of time.
But right now, I’m thinking it would be nice to be somewhere sunny. And to have spent yesterday at the zoo with Karyn. And to be meeting up with Matthew and Jennie and Jesse and others in the next few days, some of whom might even have brought chocolate from England with them! And to have met people I only know in the vague world of the internet for real – John’s hosting a spaghetti party which sounds really fun, and I could have had lunch with Annette one day and…
Instead, I’m here in cold Glenside, trying to write a paper on the use of metaphor in Old Testament theology and trying not to think about the huge pile of books still to be read in preparation for the NT Reading Course 5 hour exam which is coming up rather sooner than I’d like. I think I’ll go to bed and see if things look any brighter in the morning.
Apart from the time, the money and the travel, that is.
Last year I remember feeling overwhelmed and not a little sickened by the sheer number of people making their comfortable living off the back of God’s word. Around 5000 conference delegates were supplemented by the many hundreds of vendors, publishers, agents and so on. I have no idea how many of these people are motivated in the studies or their business by a true desire to honour God and serve his people, but judging from what I observed, it’s probably a minority.
So it’s particularly pleasing to find one such biblical scholar admitting to deep feelings of unease about his own part in this. Hector Avalos thinks that the Bible has no more intrinsic merit than Shakespeare, yet he is a biblical scholar at Iowa State University. He spends his working life studying a book which he does not believe. In this article he notes how biblical studies departments are finding it increasingly important to justify their own existence. He is pretty blunt about this:
I have come to see the SBL as having a self-serving ideology that must be confronted if the SBL is to survive at all. Given the ever-growing irrelevance of biblical studies in academia, the SBL has increasingly become charged with stemming the death of a profession. The vast majority of SBL members are engaged in an elite leisure pursuit called “biblical studies,” which is subsidized through churches, academic institutions, and taxpayers. Keeping biblical scholars employed, despite their irrelevance to anyone outside of faith communities, is the main mission of the SBL.
Now, I fundamentally disagree with Avalos about the worth of biblical studies. I think that there is nothing the world needs more than to hear and understand properly the texts I spend my days studying. My motivation is not to make money (!) nor a name for myself, but to serve the church. And I’m glad to be studying with and under people who have similar goals.
But I can’t help feeling that there are some parallels between the majority of SBL delegates and the moneylenders whom Jesus threw out of the temple.