Mais sobre a SBL 2006

Se você leu o post Relatos sobre a SBL 2006, continue aqui, pois Mark Goodacre postou também, em seu NT Blog, o seguinte:

SBL Day 4 (Monday)

Friday, November 24, 2006

After our Synoptics Steering Committee breakfast, it was the SBL Forum Advisory Board meeting. Shortly afterwards I had a meeting of the Library of New Testament Studies editorial board, and next up was the Pauline Epistles section at which I was presenting a paper. Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that the topic of my paper was circumcision in Galatians. Since a few people at the conference asked me about my regular blogging on this topic, perhaps I should explain that one of my reasons for doing this this year, something I have not done in previous years, is that I did not get the chance to practise the paper in a seminar here ahead of time, so I had not had chance to get any feedback on it.

I was pleased with the way the paper went. It is now my habit on these occasions to present the paper and not to read it. I used to call this “extemporary” but since one definition of this is “Spoken, done, or composed with little or no preparation or forethought” (Answers.com), this is not in fact a very helpful term. To present rather than to read takes, in my experience, a huge amount of extra preparation, not less. One has to make sure that one has all the key information in one’s memory, and the structure and balance very clearly worked out. So I think I should talk about “presenting” as opposed to “reading”.

That aside, though, I was happy with the reaction. I had a number of incisive and helpful questions, including from Victor Paul Furnish and Sharyn Dowd. And it was nice to have several friends present for support and encouragement, as well as a great audience. My Duke colleague Douglas Campbell chaired the session, the session also included Kathy Barrett Dawson, one of our Duke PhD students, talking on parody in Galatians. The other speakers were John Taylor on “we” language in Galatians, Benjamin Schliesser from Tübingen on faith in Romans, and James Ware on Paul and Job in Philippians.

I was so relieved to have my paper done that changing out of my smart clothes and into casual ones, getting a couple of beers and a steak at the Brew House, and spending time with three of my favourite people, this was a real highlight of the conference, all the more so in that we then went to see Casino Royale, as I previously mentioned. This was my third SBL Bond, with The World is Not Enough in Boston 1999 and Die Another Day in Toronto 2002. Let’s hope there’ll be another SBL Bond in 2008.

SBL Day 5 (Tuesday)

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Tuesday morning of the SBL is, it has to be said, a bit of a damp squib. As a punter, one is best off when one has a latish flight and one has time to enjoy the last morning fully. But most do not. Some have already left by Monday evening. Many more set off on Tuesday morning without returning to the Convention Centre. No one likes being scheduled on a Tuesday morning. This year, I was able to get to about half of the final Synoptics Section before we needed to pick up our car to begin the drive back to Raleigh. First up in that section was Mike Bird, who did a nice job on the Gospels for all Christians theme, but with a special focus on non-canonical Gospels, arguing that these do not provide counter-examples to the Bauckham claim. Mike is a lively speaker, and his paper was easy to listen to, and I look forward to hearing more from this fellow biblioblogger in the future. Next up was an old favourite in the Synoptics (and related) sections, Jeffrey Gibson, who spoke on “A lack or Alas?” concerning the bread petition in the Lord’s Prayer. Since Mike seemed to have left after his paper, and Jeffrey left after his, I feared rather for the remaining speakers, especially as there were only ten or so people in the audience for the session. It does seem a bit unfair that those who draw the short straw of the Tuesday mornings get such a poor audience. Is it time to scrap Tuesday morning sessions?

Our drive back was great, talking all the way and a great second visit to Cracker Barrel to boot. This was one of those SBLs that left me looking forward very much to next year’s.

SBL Annual Meeting General Reflections

Friday, November 24, 2006

A few random thoughts:

(1) I can’t say that I am too keen on the extension of the meeting backwards towards Saturday at 9 a.m. I used to like the slightly more civilized start at 1 p.m., which enabled one to orientate oneself before getting into the fray. I was very rushed on Saturday morning, especially with a breakfast meeting too.

(2) Are the receptions getting a bit out of hand? I mean: are they losing their identity as receptions for a given university or publishing house and becoming instead free-for-all crowded boozing sessions?

(3) There are far too many sections, and too many overlapping sessions. The meeting encourages not just specialization but specialization within a given area. So if you are interested in the Synoptics (already narrow), you have the choice also of Formation of Luke-Acts, Book of Acts, Mark, Matthew, Historical Jesus, Q, and more. I think this tends to encourage specialized audiences, even cliques, in given areas. Each section has too many sessions and there are always huge overlaps. One of the biggest problem in the guild these days is over-specialization and the SBL Annual Meeting reflects and encourages that problem. It is something that requires some thought.

(4) Although the academic quality remains pretty good, the massive number of sections and sessions inevitably has an effect on the quality. I would like to see the meeting becoming more competitive. I was disappointed to hear a senior academic speak about the bar being set far too low for him to speak at the AAR. It would be a great shame if senior scholars came to feel the same way about the SBL.

(5) Is it time to scrap the Tuesday morning sessions? If it is desirable to shrink the meeting (above), perhaps Tuesday morning sessions would be a good way of beginning the pruning process.

(6) The chairing of sessions is, on the whole, very good, but there are still those sessions where presiders have just not thought through the practicalities of how to time a session. You have to be ruthless. In a two-and-a-half hour session with five speakers, it essential to begin on time, and to allow 28/29 minutes maximum for each speaker and out of fairness to each speaker, to make sure that no one part bleeds into another part.

(7) I witnessed more problems with room size this year than in previous years. This may be because section chairs are not estimating the size of their audience well (and it is difficult), or it may be because the estimates are not getting carried through to the organizers.

(8) I heard many superbly presented papers this year, but I also heard a good number that were simply scripts getting very hastily read, with no thought about communication with the audience. I would say that I saw more hand-outs this year than usual too, and that is something I like very much.

(9) All those things aside, it has to be said that the meeting overall is superbly run. Somehow, everything comes together brilliantly and the only difficulties are minor ones. The book exhibit always goes off brilliantly; it is rare for there to be technical difficulties; these huge American convention centres are surpirsingly straightforward to navigate. Overall, the SBL does a fantastic job, and perhaps we only notice the little niggly things because it does such a good job.

Update (Sunday, 19.38): there are some good comments below from Stephen Carlson and Alan Garrow. On reflection, I say let’s keep the Tuesday mornings. Ending on Monday will result in the loss of Monday evening, the one night I actually get to do something relaxing!

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