SBL, from student to scholar

I noticed this year that SBL annual meeting is completely different for me now that I am “on the other side” of the Phd. Before, during the thesis-research time, I was stressed out, moving from one session of relevance to the next, trying to absorb as much information as I could that would further refine my thoughts and enhance my expertise. Can’t say it did all that much, but that was my hope.

Now, I approach the conference completely differently. First, I am on the lookout for good textbooks – I scour the book stalls and talk to various reps. I thumb through new texts and check out key elements that make a textbook useful.

Sessions are much less important. If I am interested in someone’s research, I just set up a meet and we can actually talk for a while. Most people, even scholars, are happy to do so.

Of course, there is time set aside for catching up with friends, in meals and receptions.

Finally, I am moving towards building good relationships with publishers. I am looking towards writing a few books in the next 5-7 years and I want to make sure I form the right partnership.

It was a bit weird to have this new relationship with SBL, especially since the only sessions I went to were my own! I did not want to do it this way, but it did end up like that. Oh well. I have some emails to send, getting the papers from some interesting folks.

Has anyone else experienced this changed purposes for SBL now that you are “on the other side”?

SBL 2010: My Report

This year’s conference travel was enjoyable for me. I had two “paper” responsibilities.

I was invited by Linda Belleville to give a review of Tom Wright’s Justification book at ETS in a Pauline Studies session, alongside Mark Seifrid and Michael F. Bird. I have never attended ETS, I am not a member and I had no plans on ever going, but I was pleased that a Methodist was invited to a Reformed and Baptist (and Reformed Baptist) stronghold. Plus, because Tom couldn’t be there, I was sort of supporting his views in the main, though I had a critique or two.

The Q & A time was fun and it made me think on my feet. The turn out was OK – many people left after Mark’s paper (60-70 people to hear Mark, 20-25 to hear me…) Anyway, I like being the “welcomed” Wrightian of the group.

My second paper, which was at SBL, was in a graduate workshop where I was invited to talk about PhD studies in the UK. Here is my bottom line -if you got the money, do it. Its shorter, the supervision is (can be?) amazing, and Europe is a lot of fun. Plus, you can’t beat the accents. I had a chat with someone interested in studying with John Barclay, Eddie Adams, or David Horrell – all good choices, of course I think Barclay is the best, especially on Paul.

BOOKS – I am transitioning into Johannine studies – so there were many things that were of interest, but few “new” things. I grabbed textbooks from Culpepper, Koester, and Powell. I also happened to pick up a couple of new Revelation items from Wipf & Stock which I will blog on soon (I teach on Revelation next week). There were few “hot of the presses” books, but I would point out Roy Ciampa and Brian Rosner’s 1 Corinthians commentary (sure to offer some fresh ideas and good “old-in-the new” discussions) and Dunn’s monotheism and Christology book.

FRIENDS – I had a great time meeting up with friends, old and new. I stayed with buddies Ben Blackwell (recent PhD grad of Durham), Jason Maston (the new Mike Bird in position, not quite yet in scholarship!), Kristian Bendoraitis (nearly at the point of his Durham viva), and John Goodrich (Durham grad, Moody prof). Fun times in the Hilton.

I met some very promising grad students and prospective PhD students – it looks like there is no end to the potential for good scholarship. Some bright minds coming out of all sorts of schools.

Update on where I send people for PhD studies: For Paul: still Durham. Sorry, but its the truth. For Jesus studies – can you still get in with Larry Hurtado? Simon Gathercole too. Tom Wright knows a little about the NT as well. 🙂

In the US, Duke and Princeton all the way around. If you want to go the evangelical route, Fuller is good. Asbury has a good program, but they are needing to fill in some faculty gaps (they are searching now)

RECEPTIONS: The Durham and Scottish Universities receptions are always good. I would feel that some university receptions might be a bit inward focused and elitist. At the Durham one, there were a number of prospective students and I hope they felt welcome.

PUBLISHERS: I had a good long chat with Chris Spinks from Wipf & Stock – a great guy and doing some fantastic things over there. I am going to be working with them and I am excited to have such a sharp and enthusiastic press who treats me well. I also met with Continuum, also good and I really like some of the essay-collections they have been doing. I think IVP is also very good right now – they are exploring some creative things and I will be blogging on that later.

FOOD: Honestly, I had loads of coffee at Starbucks (no Peet’s Coffee around) and I ate Larabar bars for breakfast and lunch. Dinners I often went to the food court. All in all, I only paid for a meal at a restaurant once!

INTERVIEWS: Because my position at SPU is not tenure-track, I did look for jobs at SBL. More on this anon. If your institution is looking for a young NT person, shoot me an email!