Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Adventures at SBL 2

I'm home now after a long boring day of travel. I left the Hilton about 6:30 am and touched down in Madison around 4:00 pm. Here's a brief report of what I was up to on Monday at SBL.

I'd been so busy with sessions that I'd hardly spent any time in the exhibit hall looking for books until Monday. So, Monday was almost entirely devoted to book-browsing and the casual socializing that goes with it. I bumped into Michael Lyons and bounced some research ideas off him. With customary sage-like clarity, he steered me around a few dead ends I'd run into. (Michael's an alum of UW-Madison. He defended his dissertation with Michael V. Fox early in my second year of grad studies.)

Then, I went to lunch with a small crowd of bibliobloggers who had assembled outside the exhibit hall. After lunch, I returned to the book exhibits looking for resources to help me study for preliminary examinations and teach biblical poetry. I ran into Jordan Rosenblum our new rabbinics professor and drank in his words with thirst (an allusion to Mishnah Avot 1 for you non-rabbinic literature folks) as he shared some advice for making friends at SBL. (Jordan's research is on food and identity and it's pretty interesting. I intend to post a summary of a presentation he made Friday night at SBL.)

I continued to look through the various book displays (rubbing shoulders with NT Wrong at one point - restraining myself from "outing" him) and eventually met up with a freshly arrived Michael Wise who had just come in for the evening's panel discussion of Hanan Eshel's book The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hasmonean State. I walked with him through the exhibits for a while, sharing some of my research concerns and getting his advice. (Wise was my teacher for Hebrew, Latin, and Second Temple Judaism at college.)

Late in the afternoon, I met with Lawson Younger from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School who had been gracious enough to agree to a meeting. We discussed potential areas of research in Ugaritic or Aramaic.

After the meeting, I headed toward the food court and ran into Chris Heard (who already commented on our dinner here).

Finally, I attended the panel discussion of Eshel's book which went as most panel discussions tend to. Most of the panel offered glowing agreement with the book in all but minor details. Wise was the most obvious detractor, but his disagreement was directed more towards the consensus camp of Qumran studies in general than Eshel in particular.

I realized later that in my non-systematic coverage of the book room, I must have completely missed the Eerdmans booth. I noticed that a number of publishers had a much smaller booth than last year and many had brought less inventory. Still, I found most of what I wanted. All in all it was a productive final day of the conference for me.

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