It seems the obligatory thing to do in late November is give the roundup of your recent conference experiences, and I’ll gladly follow this pattern…
I first headed to ETS last Tuesday in Providence. The flight was good, and several of us from Durham had the same itenerary–John Goodrich and I had seats together going and coming. It’s nice to go to ETS first so I can adjust to the time change. I gave a paper on ‘Righteousness and Glory in Romans’. I had a crowd of about 20 people, and got a few good clarifying questions, but none that challenged my basic thesis (I’ll do a separate post with the details). I scheduled a lunch with my profs from Ouachita–Scott Duvall and Danny Hays–to glean their wisdom about job hunting. I didn’t get anything too specific, but they were helpful in clarifying expections and things. Beside my own, I would say Darrell Bock’s call for a response to Robinson and Koester on development of ‘christianities’ was the most interesting paper I heard. I also learned that a volume (Paul and the Second Century) in which I’m contributing a chapter on Paul and Irenaeus is going to be picked up by T&T Clark.
On Friday, we caught the train up to Boston for IBR. Unfortunately I was too tired and wasn’t able to concentrate on Joel Green’s paper. In fact I left the mingle time early because I was too tired to really interact with people, so I made up for it throughout SBL.
As SBL kicked off, I noticed that there weren’t an overwelming number of papers/sessions I wanted to attend as in years past. Of those I did attend, it struck me that not that many seems that ‘new’ to me. I think the deal is that now that I am finally engaging Paul at a deep academic level many of the debates are no longer that new. I can see that people often just nuance what has been argued before. Accordingly, I spent lots of time hanging out in the book stalls talking to people. I’m not a big networker, but my web of contacts from other UK university contacts, the blogging world, etc. made it fairly easy to find someone to chat with, and invariably I got introduced to their friends as they happened by. You might think with all that time in the book stalls, I loaded up on books. I only made three purchases: the new edition of the Nag Hammadi Scriptures, Thrall’s 2 Corinthians (ICC), and Furish’s New Testament Theology of 1 Corinthians. Highlights of the conference were the blogger dinner, where I finally met several others in person…such as Matt Montini, Josh McManaway, James McGrath, Michael Halcolmb, Jim Getz, and later that night Mark Goodacre; After that dinner I headed to the Durham Reception. Fortunately, Durham’s not cutting back like others may have done. I think we had almost double from last year, but maybe it was just a smaller room or maybe we picked up a few from other receptions were cancelled or underfunded. On Monday, a few of us hit the town to do some sightseeing–’freedom trail‘ in Boston and Harvard, which was only 20 minutes away by subway. (I learned that Boston’s subway system is as bad as London’s with too many steps and hardly any escalators or elevators/lifts)
Reflections: 1) Since my paper was originally offered to SBL but declined, I learned a good lesson to make the ’so-what’ factor clear in my future abstracts. 2) I’ll ask around for people’s opinions about which sessions will have the fire works. I seemed to regularly miss the good ones. 3) I’ll continue to move toward the pattern of a healthy balance between sessions and chatting in the book stalls or local sight seeing. I definitely kept my sanity much better this year by not overloading myself with sessions.