Sunday, November 25, 2012

Some Hurried Words on SBL

Haven't had much time to blog amidst travel and socializing all week, so these notes I've jotted down are the best I can provide.

Where to begin?  I think by saying that attending SBL reinforced the fact that becoming (or being) a scholar is to join or engage with a scholarly community--a fact that can sometimes be obscured when working independently or primarily in the world of biblioblogging.  Students and junior faculty have the advantage of  participating in that community every day, facing colleagues, peers, and students and receiving often instantaneous feedback from that community regarding their relationships and abilities; I am less fortunate in that regard.  That's something I'm trying to change (in part by attending conferences like SBL), though I was nevertheless reminded of my limitations.  I was also reminded of the fact that I am not at all interested in making waves; I merely want someone to take my ideas seriously someday.

  • I was unfortunately unable to attend the session on Jesus Remembered in the Gospels of John and Mark, and would love to hear any reports by those who were there, particularly on the papers by Craig Blomberg and Dorothy Lee.  Instead I attended the final hour or so of the session on Intertextuality in the Second Century (and was also very sorry to have missed Candida Moss' presentation), and made a necessary introduction afterwards.
  • I had wanted to attend the SBL Publishing Workshop, but was informed that it had actually been held on Friday.  I hadn't been there on Friday, so that was that.  With no notice in the program, I wondered how well it had been attended...Did anyone out there make it?
  • At Literary Sources for Mark 3 - 6, two presenters were unfortunately absent due to illness, which extended the discussion of the other two papers.  The first was by Matthew Montonini on mimesis between 2 Kings and Mark on Elishan miracles (familiar to readers of this blog), and I was intrigued to hear Motonini noting the Markan motif of the miraculous touch, a motif that I have discussed previously.  The second paper was extremely interesting, a presentation by Richard Arthur on perfect tenses among GMt, GMk, and GLk.  To summarize would be difficult, but basically Luke seems to treat tenses from GMk differently than he does those from GMt.  This suggests that any synoptic solution with movement from both GMk and GMt to GLk is unlikely, including the Farrer Hypothesis (!).  Arthur took this as evidence of the Griesbach hypothesis, but agreed that including a Q into the mix would "increase the noise" in his (loosely statistical) analysis.  He simply left it at that, and rightly so, I think, but it was an intriguing strike against the FH.  Perhaps if I have time I'll try to outline his argument in a later post.
  • A competing session was The Septuagint, Josephus, and the Composition of Luke-Acts--any information on it would also be welcome.
  • Next up was Preparing, Submitting & Delivering Conference Papers. It was rather interesting, perhaps with a fair amount of common-sense suggestions, though there seemed to be differing views on how much humor and wordplay could be included in a proposal or presentation: some allowed for essentially none, others felt it had its place every now and then.  Most important, I think, was the advice not to submit a proposal without already having a substantial amount of writing already done on a topic.  In other words, don't let the committee decide whether you should do the work or not: you should already have done most, if not all, of the work.  
  • Certain attendees of the Student Member's Reception have my thanks, as they were very generous to include me in their conversation while I struggled to explain that no, I was not in fact in a graduate program even remotely related to religious studies, and was only attending as a biblioblogger.  
  • The General Studies on Markan Sources session Sunday afternoon discussed various aspects of Markan literary dependence (with one speaker missing), including a very interesting presentation by Thomas Brodie. It was a great pleasure to see Brodie speak in person, as I have admired his work on 2 Kings and Mark (mentioned above).  He pointed out the very interesting parallels, that he has covered previously (in The Birthing of the New Testament [2009]) though which few present seemed aware of (including myself) between the Markan healing of the paralytic and Peter's vision in Ac 10 (a rooftop, lowered the mat/coming down from heaven, four men/four corners, rise/Get up, etc.).  Brodie sees these (and other parallels) as evidence of a "proto-Luke" that contained most of GLk plus Ac 1-15, and that served as the basis for GMk (and not the other way around).  This is covered in some detail in Brodie's book, to which he referred for details; there was also a one-page handout I have not yet had time to study in depth.  Speaking for myself, I am simply unable to see how movement from a proto-GLk to GMk is more plausible than the opposite direction.  Brodie claimed that Q was in trouble, and I guess that if one dispenses with Q, then there are many problems to explain, but in that case here we have yet another consequence of dispensing with Q.  The multiplicity and radical incompabibility of all the "Q-dispensing" solutions (Griesbach, FH, proto-Lukan priority) suggests to me that dispensing with Q is inherently unwise from a textual standpoint; to dispense with Q is to complexify the situation, rather than to simplify it.
  • I then made brief visits to three sessions (made briefer by the Herculean efforts needed to cross from one end of the conference center to the other); on biblioblogging, Synoptic Themes and Markan Variation again, and The Text of the New Testament
    • The session on biblioblogging was interesting but felt mostly like a recounting of personal journeys in the world of biblioblogging; I unfortunately had to leave just before Jack Moeglich begain his presentation on possibilities for peer-reviewed bibliobloging. 
    • My destination was the Synoptic Themes session, where I caught Elizabeth Shively's explication of characteristic Markan themes running throughout GMk, and their links to the ending of the gospel.  
    • I then had to leave for my third planned session, where I did catch Didier Lafleur on the Caesarean Text of the Gospel of Mark, a presentation of his efforts to update the manuscript basis (and to re-examine the existing arguments) for the Caesarean Text. (Ehrman seems to have left by then.)  This is fairly technical and advanced stuff for me though it is exactly the sort of textual analysis I most admire.  From what I understood, Lafleur showed that there is still an argument to be made for a Caesarean Text :)  
  • The Monday afternoon sessions were the review of Zeba Crook's Parallel Gospelsand Thomas Among the Gospels. I knew very little about Crook's synopsis, but knew enough about it afterwards to provide some details to a curious browser in the book room. Most of the discussion centered around Crooks' unusual translation (one word or hyphenated phrase per Greek word) and his inclusion of Q in one column. UPDATE: Mark Goodacre has been blogging about this session and the back-and-forth between him and Crook, if any readers are interested.
I leave the session on the Gospel of Thomas for another post, as it will take some in-depth discussion of the issues.  It was a very lively discussion and I was glad to have been there.


  1. Nice overview of your SBL experience. Thanks.

    (Quick technical catch: the inline link in bullet point 3 to your post on miraculous touch is an author-only Blogger link. Might want to make it a canonical URL.)