Sunday, November 23, 2008

Adventures at SBL 1

Yesterday was a full and exciting day at SBL, meeting old friends and making new ones, learning new things and enduring new attempts to argue old ideas, and sitting through boring papers to hear one good one.

I will devote more time to report on a couple of papers in more depth in the future, but here's a short account of my adventures so far.

I started the day in the Ugaritic Studies & NW Semitic Epigraphy section. I never expected it to be so popular, but eventually the room was standing-room only. First, Philip Schmitz gave a new reading of the Phoenician Nora stele; then, Rob Holmstedt read a paper on the functions of pronounts in NW Semitic inscriptions.

Anson Rainey spoke at length (a paper had canceled so he took up 2 30 min time slots) about the "Levantine Literary Repertoire." I have 4 pages of notes on that, so I intend to report on it more fully later. Basically, he was further developing his thesis of Transjordanian origins for the Israelites. A few of my questions were answered, but he didn't convince me in his attempt to re-draw the map of dialect geography for Syria-Palestine.

About a third of the room cleared out after Rainey's talk. The last presenter was Aaron Schade on the possibility of reading prefixed verbs as modal in Phoenician.

After the Ugaritic section, I met John Hobbins (of Ancient Hebrew Poetry fame). Hanging out with John for the afternoon was a good way to meet people. We tried to get back into the afternoon Ugaritic Studies session to show our support for Jim Getz's paper, but it was packed again. Who knew Ugaritic was so popular?

Later on, we heard a lecture by Lawrence Venuti, a translations studies scholar, sponsored by the Nida Institute. It was good, but again the room was packed. I saw several people that I met back in September at the Nida School

Finally, I heard the presidential address by Jonathan Z. Smith. He was appealing to biblical scholars to be more involved and aware of their discipline as part of the larger discipline of religious studies.

I spent the late evening socializing at the SBL members reception and the student members reception. It was a busy day and I didn't even get to spend much time looking at the book tables.

Today promises to be just as full and busy.  A friend of mine is reading his paper in a few minutes; then there's the paleography section this afternoon with Pardee's presentation about the Zincirli inscription. Much blogging was done on the preliminary reports of this inscription that hit the media last week. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to post on it. Most posts just linked to Chip Hardy at Daily Hebrew, so I'll direct you there for more information. I hope to be able to blog Pardee's paper live; at the very least, I'll have a report later in the day.  Shortly after Pardee's presentation ends, I'll have to zip down the hall to catch my professor Michael Fox's paper on the use of LXX in the Peshitta of Proverbs.

Tonight is the Bibliobloggers dinner. I believe the group will be much larger than Michael Halcomb expects since several others have said they're coming but aren't on his list. I'm looking forward to it.

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