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SBL Day One

November 18, 2007

I haven’t slept in 23 hours, and I feel great! What with an early flight, a time change and an extroverted personality, I have been running strong for nearly a day straight. While some of this might come out as gibberish, here are my highlights so far:

  • S17-63 Hebrew Scriptures and Cognate Literature: The session was devoted to discussing Karl van der Toorn’s new book Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible (Harvard, 2007). The responses of the panel basically confirmed my own views of the book: it does a great service to biblical studies but has a few problems (mainly in regards to the composition of Jeremiah and Deuteronomy).
  • S17-107 Biblical Law: The section was to be on ethnicity in biblical law, but only one panelist really dealt with ethnicity (and, coincidentally, was the only one not to deal with biblical texts!). While I am sure that most of the papers will look great when in print, my mind kept coming back to the things they were not dealing with. Some days I really wish I could have the footnotes to the papers being read.
  • S17-134 SBL Presidential Address: The title of Katherine Sakenfeld’s paper — “Whose Text is It?” — led me to the false assumption that she would be speaking on canonicity. Her paper on post-colonial feminist readings from the developing world was amazing, but I probably would have gone back to my hotel for a nap if I had known what it really was — which would have been my loss. If you weren’t there, read it in the first JBL of next year.
  • As a general statement on the conference so far, I must note that I have never hear the word “liminal” used so many times in my life (and most of them incorrectly!). If this trend continues, I might have to grow my hair out for the sole purpose of then pulling it out.

Stay tuned for further updates from the man who slept too little.

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