Friday, November 28, 2008
Post-SBL/ETS round up
Like all-and-sundry, I have my own own post-SBL/ETS wrap up:
1. Boston was absolutely freezing and far colder than the north of Scotland. But it was a beautiful city with many historic sites and I also saw my first Unitarian Church (and I also saw Loren Rosson my first unitarian person). The squirrels in Boston common looked cute enough to eat!
2. My two ETS papers went well. One was on "The Role of Canon in New Testament Theology" where I argued for a Theology of the New Testament over and against a Theology of Early Christianity since the canon has a certain ontological status not afforded to other writings. Nonetheless, I also argued that New Testament Theology must take into account the wider context and impact of the New Testament itself. I maintained that we need a "Theology of the New Covenant" in order to combine content (the New Testament texts), context (New Testament world), and community (New Testament believers). There was some good discussions afterwards about wirkungsgeschichte, the value of Graeco-Roman sources for study, and the canonisation of the New Testament (I said that God created the canon through the Church and I expected to get crucified as clauset-Catholic for this, but in actuality, the audience was receptive to this articulation). My other paper was "What if Martin Luther Had Read the Dead Sea Scrolls?" which was a talk on moving from historical particularity to theological interpretation. I tried to show that a nuanced and accurate depiction of New Testament history actually helps rather than hinders theological intepretation and I gave examples with works of law, faith of Christ, and righteousness as examples. Afterwards there was some good discussions with Craig Evans and Mark Nanos (Mark is an excelelnt speaker who forces you to think and rethink everything about Paul that you simply assumed was true).
4. The book fest was rather limited this year as my birthday was the day before ETS so I couldn't milk it all that much and many of my publishing friends have moved on to other jobs, ergo not many free books this year. But I did pick up a free copy of Craig Blomberg and Mariam Kamell on James (ZEC) and Mariam is smart girl who will be going places in the future! I got a review copy of Klyne Snodgrass on the parables as a desk copy for a course I teach. At IBR I got given a copy of Kevin Vanhoozer's Theological Intepretation of the New Testament. The only book I purchased with Jimmy Dunn on Galatians in BNTC. The books I wanted (Jimmy Dunn, Beginning from Jerusalem & Craig Blomberg, The Case for Historic Pre-Millennialism) were not available - Doh!
5. Met up some with good friends at ETS including Michael Pahl, Brian Vickers, Joel Willitts, and Stan Porter. My wittiest conference remark this year was with Andy Naselli:
Andy Naselli: I'm trying to build bridges between evangelicals and fundamentalists!
Mike Bird: You ever seen that movie, "A Bridge Too Far"?
6. Papers at ETS that I enjoyed were Dan Wallace on the New Testament and Textual Criticism (do read this when it comes out in JETS). Dan gave a good overview of the state of play and made reference to the ETC blog, but glossed over it due to lack of time. He argued for maintaining the recovery of the autographa as the goal of textual criticism, took Parker and Ehrman to task for some of their views, talked abut the Centre for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, collaboration in textual criticism research, and why evangelicals should be involved in textual criticism (I'm sure Peter Head would have had a tear in his eye!). Denny Burke gave a good presentation on the "righteousness of God" where he argued that dikaiosyne does not express a verbal idea but a nominal one related to a quality of God (hooray for Fitzmyer!).
7. At SBL the best session I attended by far was, "Cross, Resurrection, and Early Christian Diversity" - I only caught echoes of the first session since it was packed liked sardines, but the second session with Simon Gathercole and April DeConick was "soopoirb" (Boston pronunciation of superb). I also enjoyed the Hebrews and Disputed Pauline Sections as well.
8. I had some good meetings at SBL. I finally got to sit down and talk to Bob Gundry after many years of trying to meet him. Breakfast with David deSilva who is a great guy with a great all round knowledge of NT. Biblioblogger and my padawan Danny Zacharias was there and grimacying in pain from a back injury. His paper on Pss. Sol. was good and he showed me some Greek teaching stuff that he's working on which will rock the world of biblical Greek education! I met Jack Poirier for the first time too, the mystery man with such a great knowledge of ancient Judaism and he writes journal articles quicker than I can cook toast. I made Frank Thielman's day by telling him that I agree with him that Philippians was written from Ephesus (I recommended the idea to Mark Goodacre). At the Hendrickson reception I had a good chat with Edith Humphrey's (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary) and Mark Booker (AMiA) about the Anglican communion. Edith told me to tell my Sydney Anglican friends, I quote you, "Back off from lay presidency for now, it's not the time". Ladies and Gentlmen of Sydney, you have been warned. Speaking of Sydney Anglicanism, I met Constantine Campbell of Verbal Aspect fame who seems to come to SBL more for the jazz music than for the scholarship. I couldn't leave out having lunch with Nick Perrin and David Vinson which was great fun except when I nearly sneezed to death. It seems everywhere I went I kept running into Oliver Crisp who is sabbaticalling at Princeton (lucky son of a toad). I finally met April DeConick too which was a delight and she gave a good paper on Gospel of Thomas. Lunch with Rebecca Mullhearn and James Crossley (James was unusually sober for SBL) was fun as well.
9. I was glad to hear that Hendrickson has accepted my book on Crossing over Sea and Land: Jewish Missionary Activity in the Second Temple Period which should be out next year. There should also be something on the cards with Paraclete about a history of scholarship on the historical Jesus aimed at the "Elaine Pagel sort of reader". I saw Dominic Matthos of T&T Clark and they have agreed to publish two edited volumes called Paul and the Second Century and Paul and the Gospels which I shall get around to organizing very shortly. So a productive time on that front!
10. As always the best reception was "Scottish Universities" with Hendrickson in second and Baker and IVP tying for third!