SBL Day 3

Day 3 of SBL was yesterday. Now the whole weekend is on the brink of becoming a blur, but here are some highlights from that one:

My first session was on cosmology in Paul. Papers sought to place Paul within his Greco-Roman context, in particular dealing with the reality and even physicality of cosmic language, language of Spirit, and the like.

Papers by Stan Stowers and Troels Engberg-Pedersen in particular left some provocative directions left to be pursued. If Paul’s conception of the Spirit is, like that of the Stoics, a physical notion–if it comes and takes up space within a person and thereby transforms the person into a divine being–then contemporary research into theosis has a possible treasure trove of data to glean for its project.

Another session I attended was on love in the Gospel of Luke. There, two of my Fuller colleagues represented exceptionally well. Love Sechrest presented on the “Good Samaritan,” arguing that the Samaritan is actually being depicted as an Israelite. Joel Green drew attention to and problematized the verticality language in the Gospel (up, down, etc.) in the Zacchaeus story and the story of infants being brought to Jesus.

My own presentation yesterday was on publishing your dissertation with an academic trade publisher. Interesting, a sub-text from the other panelists was that trade publisher is not going to get you tenure at a research university. The culture they were reflecting sat in interesting juxtaposition to the Biblioblogger session I attended today in which the inaccessibility of $200 book was seen as something that should be overcome by electronic publication.

As usual, the best part of SBL was the series of meetings, fortuitous and planned, that dotted the day. Day 4 is drawing to a close–at least the sessions part. More on today’s festivities tomorrow.

5 thoughts on “SBL Day 3”

  1. As I have been trying to tell folks for a while, situating Paul within relevant Greco-Roman philosophical sensitivities (among other things) is potentially quite rich for Biblical-Theological and theological-reading interests. :)

  2. Daniel — I’d love to see a post or comment on our theology of how we understand Paul’s (or any particular Biblical writer’s) distinctive theology within the context of the authoritative canon. E.g. — if Paul did in fact understand “spirit” as a sort of transformative substance, are Christians today compelled to think of “spirit” the same way? Or do we contextualize Paul’s understanding of “spirit” and take it as only the starting point for our thinking about it today?

    Obviously a key move for conservative evangelicals here is to privilege original authorial intent as essentially equivalent to God’s authoritative speech, but that often seems to lead to a quagmire given the situatedness of each “author” (and often the problems of identifying unique “authors” and what their “intent(s)” might have been). Yet without some hermeneutical touchstone of this sort, the role of Scripture as a norming norm seems threatened.

    1. I think it’s time for you do to a PhD in Bible and hermeneutics!

      Seriously, you raise a fantastic and difficult question. We do tend to have a ready “historical pass” for some ideas that we don’t hold anymore (e.g., the universe being more or less flat, with heaven literally being up and having several levels). But once we start getting to theologically freighted / invested points like what the Spirit is, how it links us to Christ, etc., we start getting nervous…

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