This weekend I attended the Midwest regional SBL which met at Valparaiso University. Unfortunately, I could only attend the Saturday sessions, but I am glad that I did because there were several outstanding papers. I attended the Gospels and Acts group in the morning – I confess that I know little about the scholarship of these NT books, but I like to try and stay current with some basic issues and debates.
I particularly liked Brian Dennert’s presentation that re-assessed the view of the messiah in Psalms of Solomon 17 and how that affects the way we view the title ‘Son of David’ in Matthew.
The Paul group, in which I presented, also had a nice group of papers – Jeffrey Asher gave a fascinating paper arguing that a major reason why scholars are obsessed with finding “enemies” in Paul’s letters (such as Colossians) comes from a heritage of ecclesial interest in preserving ‘orthodoxy’ and fighting ‘heresy’. He wonders why the academy is so intent on finding opponents around every corner for Paul? Very interesting stuff!
I had lunch and chatted a bit with two fine “scholars” and bloggers – Michael Halcomb and James McGrath. Michael presented an interesting paper on Paul’s “all things to all people” language, while James was there to soak in the wisdom of the papers (did I mention he attended my paper and sat in the front row?).
My paper went very well - I presented on a particular rhetorical pattern I have found in the NT and how the poor interpretation and translation of it can lead to hasty theological decisions. The pattern was well understood by the group and no one challenged my readings of the case studies (Philippians 2.4 and Eph. 6.12). Of course, if Troels Engberg-Pedersen were there (and he has done some work on Phil. 2.4), he certainly would have taken a shot at me! In his absence, though, things went very smoothly. I am having trouble doing good research for it, because this kind of wide-ranging discussion is rare and no one else has discussed the pattern as a whole (the grammar BDF has a short 3-4 paragraph discussion). Also, for the national meeting, it doesn’t really fit a particular group (too broad for the Pauline, not grammatical enough for the grammar groups, not rhetorical enough for those groups, etc…). Oh well, we’ll see.
Overall – a fun time and the university was nice. This was my first regional SBL (as a student/scholar) and it was enjoyable. Strangely, for me, I just moved back to the USA and to the Midwest, but in the summer I am moving to Seattle, so I will be transferring to ANOTHER region. Oh well. The life of an academic….