Well SBL 2011 is done and I’m back home so I thought I would post my reflections of the event.  As always it was a stimulating and rewarding experience.  If you have not yet attended an SBL event I highly suggest you make next year your first.

Highlights

Pat McCullough always does a great job putting together panels that are both informative and entertaining and this year’s panel was no exception.  While all the speakers were tremendous, Margaret Mitchell’s words had the strongest impact on me.  A few weeks before SBL I had gotten stuck on one particular problem with my dissertation, closely related to my methodology.  Mitchell reminded the room that while methodologies are useful, questions are what drive the discussions and one’s work.  This statement helped me break through my own wall by reminding me that my methodology is just a tool for answering the questions I’m pursuing.  While this may seem like a simple truism, they were certainly words I needed to hear at that moment.  Amy Jill Levine was also incredibly entertaining.  I had not had the pleasure of hearing her speak before, and while she was informative, I will always remember her candor and outrageous comments.  Well done Mr. McCullough I look forward to seeing what you put together next year!

Presenting my work before the Rhetoric and the New Testament group.  This work done by this group has greatly influenced the direction of my dissertation.  Thus, I was excited to present my work before the group and was hoping that their critiques would not be too scathing.  Although, the audience was small, as my paper was presented from 6:00 – 6:30, influential members of the group were in attendance.  I especially appreciated the feedback offered by Greg Bloomquist, as his monograph on Paul and suffering directly influenced my own paper.  Moreover, after the session ended, we were able to talk for a while and this encounter allowed me to probe him for advice at another meeting of the Rhetoric and the New Testament group.  It was also great to meet Greg Carey and exchange thoughts with him.  Essentially, this meeting helped confirm that this group could serve as a home for my dissertation work.

Peter Head’s SBL closing presentation.  I have an interest in papyrology; but I often find the papers too technical or internal discussion oriented.  Head’s paper was both interesting and entertaining, though the entertaining part was probably unintentional.  There were serious technical difficulties which limited the length of his talk and turned 15 slides into hilarious one liners leading up to a 10 minute information packed presentation.  If this is how all papyrology papers were presented I wouldn’t miss a single one!

Talking to Duane Watson in the airport.  My table for lunch at some overpriced airport restaurant was ready and my lunch mate was pushing me to wrap up this conversation quickly.  However, I had burning questions about my dissertation that I had to ask given this opportunity.  Watson was also waiting for a table and was kind enough to provide me with some valuable information. 

Seeing friends and colleagues.  I’ll never forget my first SBL in 2004; I knew no one at the event and basically wandered around between papers and ate alone wondering how one got more involved in this sea of people.  Now 8 years later I can’t walk more than about 20 feet without seeing someone I know.  My SBL experience has drastically changed and this is due to the many people I consider friends.  I may not see them or even communicate with them all year, but it’s great seeing them at SBL.  So while I would love to give a shout out to every one of these people this list would be longer and more laborious to read than the genealogies in Matthew and Luke.

Lowlights

While I have enjoyed San Franciscoduring previous visits, it is not ideal for SBL.  The hotels were too spread out (often a 10 minute walk or more separating them) to attend all the papers I wanted to see.  I was often forced to make choices between papers even when they did not overlap.

Well, with SBL Annual Meeting nearly upon us and my Winter Quarter teaching rapidly approaching I decided it was time to start posting regularly again.  I must admit I was a bit surprised to see the length of my last drought; but, alas what is done is done.  On to more exciting topics, namely the SBL 2010 Meeting in Atlanta.  I will post a few times this week about events I plan to attend but I thought I would start today with some of the Professional Development sessions, many of which are hosted by members of the Student Advisory Council.  In the past I have not attended these sessions as there are always many interesting sessions happening simultaneously and I chose others instead.  However, this year I have two friends hosting sessions and I’m on the job market so I thought I would take a closer look at these potentially valuable sessions.

S20-314            Finding Your “Niche” in Biblical Scholarship

This session hosted by fellow blogger and UCLA PhD student Pat McCullough looks rather promising for anyone struggling to find a niche in this field growing more saturated by the day.  I remember the days when I was trying to find my niche and my feelings of dread the closer I got to working on my dissertation.  Pat has put together an all-star panel of established scholars ready to share their wisdom.

S21-212            From Dissertation to Publication: Advice from Editors and Authors

Another friend of mine, Brandon Wason, is hosting this panel which should prove especially useful for individuals like myself nearing the end of the dissertation process.

S21-314            E-Publish or Perish?

This is the professional development session which intrigues me most.  Is e-publishing a viable and respectable  CV building outlet, something akin to blogging, or somewhere in the middle.   I will be at this session listening with great interest.

S22-131            Navigating the Job Market

This is by far the scariest of the professional development sessions.  As one on the job market I’m not sure that I’m ready to confirm the harsh realities of the current job market which I have already found out first hand.  Since it takes place during my presentation on Monday morning I suppose I will have to hear this information second hand.

Well, those are just a few of the useful professional development sessions being held this year.  I highly suggest you head over to the SBL website and view them for yourself.  While, listening to world class scholarship is a must make sure you use some of your time at SBL to network and acquire the necessary tools for finding your place in the field, opportunities for publishing, and improve your chances of finding a job when you graduate.

 

Well I’m freshly back from the most intense, and enjoyable, academic experience I’ve had since my exams, the Enoch Graduate Seminar.  It is a 4 day seminar with papers from morning until 7:00 PM.  It is expected that you attend and are prepared to provide extensive feedback on every paper, and with very few exceptions this is precisely what occurred.  Thus, it is both a grueling and rewarding experience.  While the Enoch Graduate Seminar technically covers second temple Judaism up through early Christianity, the focus of the meeting is second temple Judaism with a few papers covering its influence on early Christian texts.  Thus, my paper “Paul, Self-Presentation and the Philippians’ Gift,” while well received, did not fit into the overall theme of the conference.  In fact, there were only 2 papers which interacted with Paul of Tarsus, my own and that of fellow blogger Pat McCullough.  However, despite the lack of papers on Paul I found the conference to be a rewarding experience and recommend it to anyone focusing on second temple Judaism.  As claimed, it truly is an international experience with participants from all over the western world.  Even as an outsider, to some degree, I made many contacts/friends, learned a great deal about second temple Judaism, and received valuable feedback on my work.  All told I highly recommend this conference for anyone willing to put in the work!

Well this Thursday marks the beginning of the NAPS (North American Patristics Society) 2010 national conference in Chicago.  It is the first one I have attended so I’m not quite sure what to expect.  I have heard it is not nearly as large as the annual SBL conference and the NAPS website says it plans on having over 250 visitors.  Also unlike SBL where I now have dozens of people to catch up with every year I am guessing that I will know 0 people at NAPS.  So if you are going to be at NAPS let me know. 

The program lists 5 papers concerning Paul, including my own  paper comparing Ignatius and Paul and their use of self-effacing language. 

Session 11: Kevin Scull, University of California, Los Angeles – “Self-Effacement in the Letters of Ignatius and Paul” 

Carl Smith, Cedarville University – “Ministry, Martyrdom, and Other Mysteries: Pauline Influence on Ignatius” 

Session 21: Thomas Scheck, Ave Maria University – “St. Jerome on Predestination, Free Will, and Divine Foreknowledge in his Exegesis of St. Paul” 

Session 22: Matthew Recla, University of California, Santa Barbara – “Emperor and Apostle: Constantinian Theology in the Pauline Tradition” 

Session 40:  Joel Willitts, North Park University – “Paul and Jewish Christians in the Second Century” 

  

Now I realize I am years late to this “new” tool, but after my recent interaction with Google books I decided to mention its usefullness.  So here is my brief tale and plug for Google books.  I had heard many times about the greatness of google books from fellow bloggers such at Pat McCullough and Brandon Wason; however, I never used it because I figured how useful can a limited preview really be?  Over the last three weeks or so I’ve found out the answer is: extermely useful.  I’ve been putting together my syallbus for next quarter, examining the historical context of the earliest Christian documents, and obviously much of the course strays far from Pauline studies.  Thus, I needed to pore through many books, which neither I nor the UCLA library possess.  Rather than request 100+ books, I started browsing Google books.  Much to my surprise most of the books I needed were on the site and even more astonishing I could access nearly every page I needed.  Thus, this tool saved me hours of driving to libraries and the pain of waiting on piles of books.  At first I couldn’t believe that this tool was legal.  I could’t understand why publishers would allow a website to freely post massive amounts of their books.  However, since I bought 10 books from my time on Google books, I quickly realized the benefit for publishers.  So to conclude my long winded tale, Google books is a useful tool indeed!

This weekend Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona will be hosting the pacific coast regional SBL conference.  The SBL portion of the program begins on Sunday, March 14th and there will be two papers presented on Paul.   Both papers will be presented at 2:15 in the New Testament Epistles and Apocalypse section.  The first will be presented by me, Kevin Scull, and is titled Paul’s Use of Self-Representation in Galatians.  This will be the first of at least three conferences this year (perhaps 4 if my paper is accepted at the national SBL conference) in which I present papers examining Paul’s use of self presentation.  The second paper will be presented by Kenneth Waters and is titled,  Politics and Polemic: Hidden Strategy in Paul’s Rhetoric of Empire (Romans 13:1-7).  I am certainly interested in hearing Waters take on this important passage.  So if you are in the Tempe area this weekend come listen to the excellent papers at WECSOR and be sure to introduce yourself.

This week I am recommending an excellent source for budding Pauline scholars, The Writings of St. Paul edited by Wayne Meeks and John Fitzgerald.  This volume of the Norton Critical Edition series is the best work I’ve found for anyone seeking one book on Paul.  The book begins with an outline of the life of Paul which, in addition to outlining the important aspects of Paul’s life, examines how scholars interact with Acts and Paul’s letters in order to create such an outline.  The work also contains translations of the thirteen letters attributed to Paul and many Pseudo-Pauline works such as the correspondance of Paul and Seneca and 3 Corinthians.  Furthermore, this volume contains a massive amount of material concerning Paul from the early Church including both stories such as Paul and Thecla and passages from the Church Fathers.  Essentially if someone wrote about Paul in antiquity it is present in this work.  However, despite all of these invaluable primary sources, the most useful section of this work may be the last 300 pages which contain numerous articles from modern scholars examining a wide range of topics.  The editors have chosen articles form the heavyweights in the field with such names as Bauer, Von Harnack, Stendahl, Kaseman, Bultmann, Theissen, Mitchell, and countless others.

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