Day 1 was somewhat uneventful, however, on day 2 I attended the Pauline Epistles section. There were five papers all at least somewhat interesting. I primarily attended the session to hear two papers by Mark Nanos and David Briones. Mark Nanos examined 1 Cor 9:19-23 and Paul’s claim to be everything to everybody in light of Nanos’ theory that Paul was an observant Jew. Nanos theory is that Paul’s statement did not describe his actual behavior but was rather a rhetorical manuever which Nanos calls rhetorical adaptability. As one who works with rhetoric I can certainly understand Nanos claim that Paul employed rhetoric in this instance. However, as one who works with rhetoric I was disturbed by Nanos’ lack of nuance. Admittedly, he did not have time to present an examination of rhetoric, but his comments in the Q&A section did not reveal a deep understanding of rhetoric. I would like to hear his thoughts on essential questions concerning Paul’s rhetoric such as his level of education.
EDIT: On Monday I had an excellent conversation with Mark Nanos in which he expounded on how he uses rhetoric. It seems that he works more generally with rhetoric identifying himself more with scholars who analyze Paul through modern rhetorical theories rather than Greco-Roman rhetoric.
In addition to attending the Pauline Epistles section, fellow bloggers Brandon Wason, Patrick McCullough, and I attended the New Testament Theology section in which James D. G. Dunn was highly critical of Udo Schnelle’s recent New Testament Theology. Dunn’s paper was energetic and quite enjoyable.
While listening to papers was enlightening, the day finished with lengthy conversations with many important scholars. These conversations are always as educational as the papers themselves, and tonight was no exception.
For anyone at SBL tomorrow make sure you stop by Things I Wish I Knew about a Ph.D. I’m one of three panelists and the section meets in SH Bayside A at 9:00. Please do introduce yourself after the session.