I was planning to do a few posts on magic and miracles in Acts called “Paul the Magician?” as a follow-up to my Alcinous post on competitive acculturation, but this will have to wait until after I come back from the annual meeting in sunny San Diego, California, that is coming up next weekend (Nov. 21-24, 2014). The Society of Biblical Literature and American Academy of Religion meets each year for a conference which features papers read on cutting-edge research issues in biblical studies, religion and theology. Last year, I read a paper for the Biblical Lexicography group on Paul’s use of righteousness language in its Greco-Roman context (now published in Seyoon Kim’s Festschrift). But this year, I’m only presiding over one session of the Intertextuality and New Testament Interpretation Section for which I’m a steering committee member. This session has the theme: “Intertextuality and Gender in the New Testament” (S22-223) and features two papers by:

  1. Alice Yafeh, Azusa Pacific University and Frederico A. Roth, Azusa Pacific University
    Vision and Re-Envision: Re-Tracing the Social Justice Relationship between Hannah and Mary’s Songs (60 min)
  2. Kay Higuera Smith, Azusa Pacific University
    Feminist Intertextual Explorations: Mary as Intertextual “Signifier” in The Protevangelium of James (25 min)
SBL-AAR Program Book cover for Nov 2014

   Having perused through the catalogue, I’ve already mapped out my schedule for what sessions I’m going to attend. Here are some highlights of sessions I’m interested in: 

Friday afternoon (Nov 21): S21-201 Paul and the Apocalyptic Imagination (12:30-5:30pm). This will probably be the highlight of the entire meeting and everything after that will be anti-climatic. The roster includes: M.C. de Boer, N.T. Wright, Loren Struckenbruck, Philip Ziegler, Michael Gorman, Edith Humphrey, Douglas Campbell, Beverly Gaventa, and John Barclay! It’s a stellar line-up of well-renowned scholars in New Testament studies. Ben Blackwell, who helped organize the session, has already blogged about the session and has paper titles, etc. over at his co-authored blog Dunelm Road. Be sure to click the link and peruse through the paper titles. 

Friday evening: P21-401Institute for Biblical Research Annual Lectureship (7-9pm). Craig Keener, well-known for his work in primary source material across the Jewish and Greco-Roman world of the early imperial period, will give a paper (based on his well-received 2011 2-volume work on Miracles) entitled: “Miracles: Philosophic and Historical Plausibility.” Having just had a discussion with North Park seminarian students on miracles and how the biblical corpus helps us recognize the miraculous in our day and age, especially as the church encounters and experiences the supernatural, both God-given and sometimes demonic in origin, I’m keen to hear Craig on how he tries to reconcile the reality of miracles in the biblical corpus with the skepticism toward the supernatural in a (North American) scientific and post-scientific cultural context. 

Saturday (Nov 22): It’s slim pickings on Saturday morning. At a very subjective level, none of the papers read for the 9-11:30am sessions really grab my interest or are relevant to my research/teaching agenda. So I might wander the book exhibit for the morning session, check in with Mohr-Siebeck for which my own monograph is contracted, or find myself walking back and forth between the Paul and Politics section, the Pauline Epistles section, or the Social Scientific Criticism of the New Testament (the latter of which features the theme “Food in Antiquity”). 
   In the afternoon, I’m committed to presiding over the “Intertextuality and Gender in the New Testament” session (mentioned above) from 1-3:30pm.
   In the evening session (4-6:30pm), I’ll be wandering around again between papers that I’m intent on hearing but unfortunately are spread around between different sessions. For example, in the Paul and Politics section, Laura Nasrallah is giving a paper on: “How Do Paul’s Letters Matter for a Political Philosophy?” (4:10-4:32pm), in the Rhetoric and the New Testament section, Katherine Shaner is presenting on: “Seeing Rape and Robbery: Harpagmos and the Philippians Christ Hymn” (4:55-5:20pm), or should I just stay for the Soren Kierkegaard Society session on Kierkegaard’s use of the Passion Narratives the entire time (P22-343a)? 

Sunday (Nov 23): Sunday always starts off for me with a time of worship with the Institute of Biblical Research worship service from 7:30-8:30am (P23-103). I remember the day, before the IBR worship service was there, when I was always scrambling on Sunday morning trying to find a church service to attend. I’m very grateful that IBR has continued to provide a place of worship on Sunday’s for its members! 
   Sunday morning I’m off to the Theological Interpretation of Scripture section (9-11:30am) which features papers on the continuing influence and legacy of Rudolph Bultmann. The papers are based on a collection of essays published by Baylor University Press entitled: Beyond Bultmann: Reckoning a New Tesatment Theology (2014). I guess one could argue that a person could simply read the essays in the book rather than attend the session, but I always found it valuable to attend such sessions because often the speakers add more content or provide a (biographical) context to their work. Certainly the Q&A ought to raise new concerns not addressed in the essays. The speaker line-up is fantastic: Joel Green is presiding, Bruce Longenecker is providing an introduction to the session (he also edited the book), and then papers from John Barclay, Richard Hays, Francis Watson, and Angela Standhartinger
   For the Sunday afternoon session, there is really only one paper I’m intent on hearing, and that is from my dissertation supervisor (= Doktorvater; don’t know if Doktormutter is common nomenclature yetJudy Gundry at Yale Divinity School who is writing a monograph on 1 Cor 7 and will be reading a paper for the Jewish Christianity / Christian Judaism section (S23-227) entitled: “Junia.. ‘Prominent among the Apostles’ (Rom 16:7), Paul ‘the Least of the Apostles’ (1 Cor 15:9): Equality or Hierarchy of Jewish Christian Apostles?” (1:05-1:30pm). After her paper, I may run over to the Pauline Epistles section to hear the 2nd half of the session which features N.T. Wright, Pamela Eisenbaum, and Ward Blanton as the respondents to two papers read by Matthew Gordley “Psalms of Solomon and Pauline Studies,” and Hans Svebakken, “Romans 7:7-25 and a Pauline Allegory of the Soul.” 
   Sunday evening (the 4-6:30pm block), I’m torn. It always happens. There are two sessions I want to go to that are happening at the same time. The Corpus Hellenisticum Novi Testamenti (S23-309) has a special session on “Plutarch and the New Testament Revisited” featuring papers from Rainer Hirsch-Luipold, David Aune, Frederick Brenk, and a response from Hans Dieter Betz. BUT the Korean Biblical Colloquium has a two plenary papers from the past presidents of KBC: Won Lee, OT professor from Calvin College, is giving the paper: “Does God Deceive? A Rereading of Jacob’s Wrestling Match” and my 2nd Doktorvater Seyoon Kim, NT professor from Fuller Theological Seminary, is presenting on: “Paul’s Gospel of Justification and Jesus’ Gospel of God’s Kingdom.” I’ll probably hear the first two papers at the Plutarch Revisited session and then jam over to KBC to hear Dr. Kim’s paper on Paul and Jesus. 

Monday (Nov 24): I’m heading over to the Fuller Theological Seminary alumni breakfast early morning and then packing it up to go home early. I’m not staying beyond Monday. 

   Running around SBL will be my exercise routine for this coming weekend. However, if any of you who read this blog happen to be at San Diego this year for the annual meeting, and if you happen to catch me in a session, sitting down somewhere, or running around from one place to another, please stop by and say “hello!” I would love to chat with you about the Paul Redux blog and your own work! Safe travels for all who are attending SBL-AAR this coming weekend. Peace!