Wednesday, November 24, 2010
My First SBL
After being thoroughly forewarned that a first SBL experience can be quite "off putting," I was prepared for the worst. Thankfully, I enjoyed my time immensely. I met PhD candidates from Notre Dame, Fuller, Durham and Baylor. They were all congenial, showing interest in me and my research interests. In addition to students, I was able to meet with professors from Baylor, Marquette and Durham. They seemed interested in me as a student and answered my questions patiently. There was nothing "off putting" about it. On the contrary, I had a lot of fun.
I owe a special thanks to Mike Whitenton (Ecce Homo) for allowing me to pick his brain on the application process, his experience with applying for a PhD in NT, and GRE advice. All in all, I found the meetings with Mike and others to be helpful, but mostly a confirmation of the track that I was already on. I suppose that's a good sign.
Aside from meetings, I went to numerous papers. I spent my time in sessions focused on Paul and intertextuality. In retrospect, it would have been good to broaden a bit, but alas this was my first time. I quickly learned that the papers can be "hit or miss." Some papers are quite good while others are not very interesting.
One highlight paper was from Matthew Bates, a PhD. candidate at Notre Dame. Bates presented a compelling paper in which he suggested applying principles of "intertextuality" to broaden the hermeneutical net of intertextuality. He considers including Jewish and early Christian texts to be instructive for reading Paul (and I would imagine other NT writers as well). So, for example, reading Paul not only in light of the LXX (source text), but also other Second Temple texts which share the same source text (co-texts), and early Christian literature that shares the same source text (post-texts). I have been very interested in this kind of an approach for quite some time, and I think Bates work might provide a helpful model for appropriating this material into a hermeneutical method. You can read his paper here.
I also found a paper by Ben Witherington III to be quite interesting. He wrote to address intertextuality in an oral world. I confess that I missed his summary, but I found the subsequent discussion quite interesting. You can read his paper here.
Somehow I managed to limit myself to three books:
My first SBL was a whirlwind, but I enjoyed it immensely.