Friday, March 18, 2016

Feel Free to Ignore this Rather Long Post about my First Experience with the Society of Biblical Literature

It's been a fairly productive spring break. I'm choosing to see it that way. Regional SBL was last weekend, and I'm thrilled to report that I was able to keep up somewhat. It took me a paper (or "speech" as I like to refer to them) or two to get into the mode, and then I enjoyed it.  

Bill and I went to the first session together which was John Duncan from Baylor on reading Acts 19:23-27 alongside the Material Remains from Ephesus and Pompeii.  Then I bravely went on my own to hear Rebecca Poe Hays from Baylor do a paper on Characterization in the Song of the Vinyard and the Parable of the Wicked Tenants. 

After her was Warren Carter from Brite on "Writing A/The Book on God Constructions of God in the New Testament. He talked about his process and what he would and wouldn't include in his book. It must be nice to be so good that you can present a paper on how you wrote your book (Coming Soon to an Amazon Near You.) He had an accent, so I missed the first 10 minutes of his speech determining if it was, in fact, a Kiwi accent, and by the time he had said "Nyeew Tistament" twice I had it nailed. Then I was like "Hey, ok. What's this New Zealander from TCU talking about?" The answer? His book. Also, first time an audience member asked a question that had me doing a Minion-esque "whaaaa??" Dr. Carter said that one of the main points of his book was "How God interacts with Humans" and the question was "In your book, do you address God interacting with non-humans?"  (Turns out that dude was David Burnett from Criswell who will be on a panel at SBL in November talking about his paper: "A Neglected Deurteronomic Scriptural Matrix to the Nature of the Resurrection Body in I Cor 15:39-42?" so after hearing his paper, his question made more sense. 

Next was Trevor Thompson from the U of Chicago on Intentional Ambiguity: The Rhetoric of 2 Thess. Bill dug that one more than me, but it was interesting. That was the first talk where I realized that you really have to enter the framework that the speaker has set up in order to follow through to their thesis. He was coming from the idea that 2 Thess was psuedoepigraphical. Shrug. Ok. 

I also sat through a bit of the panel on Writing a Feminist Commentary: Authors from the Wisdom Commentary Series. That was pretty interesting, but only as far as hearing the authors talk about writing a feminist commentary, not about the OT. I kept wondering why one author kept clearing her throat, and it turns out she was saying "Nahum." 

My two favorites on Saturday were Amanda Brobst-Renaud from Baylor and Sharon Betsworth from OKC University. Amanda's speech was "The Scoundrel, the Miser and their Patron (Luke 15:11-32)" She was funny and smart and talked about characterization in the pericope of the Prodigal Son. She talked about Theon, Hermogenes and Quintillian, but I can't really remember how each applied, so minus one point for me. She also had her 11 week old baby with her. #womanoftheyear  

Sharon Betsworth's presentation was  "Doule and Paidiske: Female Servants and Slaves in the Writings of Luke." She cataloged all the times and ways in which each term was used in the gospel of Luke, and the meanings of each term. It was simple and yet very engaging. 

Sunday we heard David Burnett's paper, mentioned above, and David Ritsema from B H Carrol Theological Institute on "The Divine John..." which was when I was scribbling notes to Bill surprised that he seemed to be defending a high Christology in GJohn.  I thought that was a given. Then it was Jeremiah Bailey from Baylor, talking about "Jesus as Eschatological High Priest in the Gospel of John."  Nathan Hays, also from Baylor did the one I was waiting for: "Greater than Jacob: The Johannine Community and the Samaritan's in Dialogue." It was all done with the given of a Johannine community, and some dude in the back asked, in a rather rude way, why he had to analyze it from that perspective, it seemed that there was enough to look at it from a literary and theological point of view without having the community as a factor. He made me angry. He said "Well, we know that the woman is representative of Samaria, given that she's a harlot..." I was very torn between chasing him down to "talk" to him afterward about that, but I ended up talking to Nathan instead, and he was very nice indeed. I wrapped up our conversation by asking him if was getting enough sleep and had eaten breakfast. #momproblems #nurseproblems  

Here were my main take-aways from the meetings: 
-There were more women there than I expected but it was still mostly white dudes. 
-There is definitely a language to learn besides Greek and German. It's Scholar-ese and it's rough, man. 
-There's pretty much a formula to these papers and it looks a lot like the research papers I had to read and write in nursing school. Very different topics, but same method, minus the hands-on blood and guts. It's more theoretical blood and guts.
-There is a lot of good thinking that goes on and that's sparked from these meetings. But I do wonder, what's the end result of all this? 

Which leads me to: why exactly am I doing this? 

And that's where I'm currently stalled out. 


Dr. David Ritsema said...

Thanks for noting my paper. It is the same paper I later presented at St. Andrews over the summer. I got some my nice reviews from N. T. Wright who was present for it. I'd point out that I am not arguing for a high Christology in John but a divine Messiah. The consensus of NT scholarship since the turn of the 20th century has argued that Judaism basically expected a royal messianic figure in line with David. However, the Gospel of John describes a messiah who is syntactically linked to the Son of God in the purpose statement (John 20:30-31). What accounts for John's divine Messiah? My work (indeed my dissertation) focused on attempting to answer that question. I argue that if you survey all of the literature you will rarely find anything that resembles a divine Messiah, except in some parts of 2nd Temple Jewish literature (and later medieval Jewish literature). There is a particular passage in the DSS, for example, that shows a divine Messiah (I listed three texts from DSS in my paper). The question is: Does this existence of a Jewish divine messiah help us understand how the followers of Jesus, i.e. early Jewish-Christianity, could have come to the conclusion that Jesus was this divine Messiah.

I realize you probably do not want to read all of this but I thought maybe someone might be benefited by knowing. I'm going to present at SBL in the spring again a follow to this paper focusing on the specific Dead Sea text that relates to the divine figure.

Sarah said...

Thanks for commenting! I think what is most clear in my post is how very much I still have to learn and I very much appreciate the clarification!