At 10:30PM last night I arrived home from the annual AAR/SBL. When I think about SBL, these ten words come to mind
I think I averaged about 3-4 hours of sleep a night! (Though, I very much enjoyed rooming with my George Fox colleague Paul Anderson – known worldwide for both his Johannine scholarship, and rocking a great mustache)
Here is my review of SBL 2015
IBR – I am nearing the end of my service on the board of the Institute for Biblical Research. It has been wonderful to work together with such fantastic leaders (Tremper Longman is the current president).
IBR Research Groups: Over the last several years, IBR has grown in its afternoon (4-6PM) research groups. I attended a fantastic session on prayer in the OT, with a thoughtful paper by Dan Block on Moses’ relationship with God in prayer.
IBR Annual Lecture: OT theologian Craig Bartholomew spoke about history and theology and the Old Testament. Great discussion with Sandy Richter (Wheaton) and NT Wright (St Andrews). It looks like we keep returning to the same questions about how Christians study Scripture in the academic world.
SBL Sessions: Truth be told, I had a hard time adjusting to east coast time, so I couldn’t stay awake during sessions! But I enjoyed a few. I caught Bruce Longenecker’s paper in the Paul, Politics, and Powers group – interesting discussion of where theology meets real (economic) life. I attended the review session of Michael Gorman’s Becoming the Gospel, and also the review session of John Barclay’s Paul and the Gift. Both were engaging – outstanding respondents in both sessions (first time hearing Miroslav Volf in person)
Friends, old and new: Great to catch-up with my Durham buddies (Kristian, Ben, and John), my co-blogger/co-writer Chris Skinner, IBR friends like Craig Keener, Ayo Adewuya, and Beth Stovell, NT friends like Sean Adams, Joel Willitts, John Byron, and Tim Gombis, Wesleyan friends like Andy Johnson, Mike Gorman, Dean Flemming, and David Capes (I consider David a secret Methodist masquerading as a Baptist), and publishing friends like Katya Covrett, Bryan Dyer, Michael Thomson, Dominic Mattos, and David Teel. A very special highlight of this trip with getting to have dinner with my doktorvater Dr. Stephen C. Barton (now retired from Durham, his first SBL ever!). David Lamb was one of the “new friends” I made – great guy. Also – had lunch with Prof. Andrew Lincoln (“Master, dismiss your servant in peace, for I have supped with my hero…”).
Books: Wonderful resources and scholarship as always from Zondervan (like Garland’s Theology of Mark), Eerdmans (Paul and the Gift), Baker (completion of Keener’s Acts series); but very excited about some releases from Fortress and Baylor. I managed to show great restraint and only bought three books this year: Paul: An Outline of His Theology by Michael Wolter (Baylor), The Pauline Debate by NT Wright (Baylor), and Christ is King by Josh Jipp (Fortress).
(PS. Speaking of books, I will have another special book announcement that I will unveil in a separate post, stay tuned…)
(PSS. Fun to see the galleys of Mike Bird’s forthcoming Romans commentary! Good on ya, Mike!)
How was SBL? SBL is always a double-edged sword – there is so much going on that there is always something for everyone. But that is also the challenge – it has such a fragmented nature that one feels quite lost and aimless (esp in Pauline studies, where there are so many Paul groups and the Paul-guild is scattered like seeds in the wind). In the future, I would like to see a common place where Paulinists can gather in a shared desire to think about the discipline and many people can engage, not just the senior leaders -though of course we must still have the eminent work of that leadership.