SBL Report – Chicago 2012

I am now finally unburying myself from “back to work” mess. I thought I might give a brief report on SBL this year.

Overall, most folks (myself included) were disappointed with the McCormick Place convention center – restaurants were few and far between, shuttling back and forth on buses was a pain, and the sessions were so spread out that the conference as a whole lacked the kind of energy we have seen in previous years. Oh well, perhaps Baltimore will be better.

Sessions – I will admit that I only managed to make it to a few sessions. On Friday I co-presided over a new research group of the Institute for Biblical Research that concentrates on the Relationship Between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Our theme this year was “the Use of the Old Testament in the Old Testament and its Implications for the New Testament.” We had about 60-70 folks turn up (twice the number I was expecting!) -I am sure the good turn out had something to do with the excellent set of presenters: Sheri Klouda, Peter Enns, Bruce Fisk, and Darrell Bock. Sheri gave a paper that set out some hermeneutical and methodological questions, and the others responded in turn. We had a good open discussion towards the end. I think the big messages from our session were (1) it is good to be looking at how the OT writers use the OT and (2) it is extremely complex and messy, so don’t jump into it naively or work it out in a sloppy way. Ok! Well, we have much more work to do next year as we will turn to some key case studies.

At “SBL,” I presented two papers. The Monday paper was my first-ever presentation in the “Johannine Literature” group. We had excellent presenters including Dorothy Lee, Ben Reynolds (with whom I went to seminary), and Susan Miller. It was a special privilege to have George Parsenios presiding. I got some helpful feedback from the attendees and I learned much from my co-presenters, so it was a success. I imagine at its largest, there were about 100 people there, but the room could have held 600!

My second paper was on Tuesday, in the Religious World of Late Antiquity group. It was a bit out of my comfort zone, since I am more of a theologian than a historian, and I am not as comfortable in late antiquity as the other presenters. Nevertheless, they were gracious and, again, the feedback was very useful.

Meals and Receptions 

I had the wonderful opportunity to stay with my buddy John Goodrich (along with fellow Durham grad Ben Blackwell) at his apartment, which saved me some money and gave us a chance to catch up. I attended the Durham reception, which seemed like a pretty hopping place. The Eerdmans reception was next door, and I presume we had folks wander in from that group. I happened to plan out just about every meal, so it was nice to spend time especially with Gordon-Conwell and Durham friends, but also new ones. Mike Bird – you were missed!


This year, I saved up birthday money to buy some books – and buy I did! I will do a post later on about my book picks, but two new releases are especially important: both Eugene Boring and Donald Hagner published introductions to the New Testament. I have had a chance to dip a bit into Boring’s work and it is very good. I did not manage to buy Zondervan’s theologian trading cards, but now I regret it! 🙂

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