Bloggin' SBL 08 - Part 5

So yesterday began in a less than optimal way. I woke up, slumphed my way over to the shower in by sleepy stupor and turned on the water, waiting for it to get warm. It never did. Hmm... So I called the help desk and they explained that there was a fire outside the hotel and they were waiting on the city to tell them whether or not they could turn one of their boilers back on. Doh! So I had to go without my hot shower for the day. Not the best way to start.


The first meeting was another meeting of the Computer Assisted Research Group. Most of the material was at least marginally interesting. I missed the first presentation, which was on mapping, but caught all of the rest. The one I was most interested in was the session on the BibleWorks manuscript transcription and collation project. The presentation was good except for the font used in the PowerPoint presentation (a script font that was difficult to read...please choose another font). He demonstrated the software that BW had created for the project (functional but ugly, which describes BW anyway). He also talked about their goals, procedures and whatnot. The only thing that surprised me was that they were going to really just do transcriptions, which I think is fine but suboptimal. His reason for not doing collations (if I remember correctly) was a) that the practices for collations weren’t standardized and b) it can sometimes be difficult to go from collation to transcription. In regard to a) just standardize and go forwards and b) I would think it would be easier to go from collations to full text rather than doing automated comparisons to go from full-text transcripts to collations. But whatever.


After lunch a number of the bibliobloggers got together again for lunch. I had a wonderful time. I have enjoyed the sessions, but the time with the bloggers ended up being much more enjoyable. It has turned out to be the highlight of the trip. I’m already looking forward to next year.


The next sessions was dedicated to the Didache. All of the papers focused on the apocalyptic elements in the text, and generally around how the Eucharist relates to the document’s apocalyptic outlook. My favorite papers were the last two, the first of which was on how the Eucharist in the Didache matched in language and emphases various structural Eucharistic markers in the book of Revelation. It was very interesting. The last paper was on the coming of the Son of Man in Matthew versus the coming of the Lord in the Didache. What I drew from it was that the Christology found in the Didache was actually higher than the Christology found in Matthew. Interesting.

The Function of Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphical Writings...

The last meeting was pretty interesting. The first paper was by Charlesworth on how one of the Bodmer papyri was put together and implications of the mixture of NT, OT, and extra-biblical texts (not terms he would have used) in it made an interesting test case for how the scribe/collector (probably a Pachomian monk) viewed what would be called "Scripture". It was an interesting talk and it is nice to be able to put a face to the name Charlesworth.

The second paper was by George Zervos and was on the same manuscript. He talked through the history of the publications on the manuscript with a special focus on how this related to the Protoevangelium of James. He also had a nice handout explaining the breakdown of the different scribal hands witnessed throughout this (likely) composite document. Helpful talk. I chatted with him after the lecture about the manuscript tradition of the Protoevangelium and what has been done with it.

The next two lectures were also on the Protoevangelium. They both focused on the emphasis on Mary’s purity. The first was on her childhood where she basically just contrasted the representation of her childhood with the childhood stories found in Greco-Roman legends. The second was on why there was a need to kick Mary out of the temple when she "came of the age of a woman" so as to not defile the temple given the preceeding focus on her purity. She came to the conclusion that this was the plot-point needed to get her out of the temple so she could meet Joseph and the story could continue of her betrothal, the birth of Jesus and so on. I thought that was fairly obvious, so at least there are two people who think that.

The last chat was on Thecla and a later conversion story centered around someone whom I do not now recall the name. Yes, I am sure you will not find this helpful if for no reason other than that. Anyway, the presentation was great, but he studdered a lot during the question time, which made for an odd contrast. His basic point was that there are bits of the Paul and Thecla story that various church leaders found undesirable, i.e. that she cut her hair and dressed like a man and that she was an evangelist. This later story was, from the lecturer’s perspective, clearly dependent on the story of Paul and Thecla and was a response to it to give women a better example of how to be a Christian woman. Interesting.

Concluding Thoughts on the Trip

Every year we get a nice tote bag when we check in. This year was no exception. The tote bag, sponsored by Baylor press, was great. As far as the bags given out in the exhibition hall, most publishers used the rather cheap plastic bags. A few, however, did not. My prize goes to Mohr Siebeck with their really nice blue cloth bag. They also get my prize for the best free writing utensil. Unlike the others who gave away cheap pens, they broke the norm and gave away a nice pencil.

Now I am getting ready to head out. I barely fit everything in my suitcase and carry-on bags. I’m now going to head to the airport and see if I can get out of here on standby earlier than my 4:00 flight this evening.

Things I Have Learned

Books from Brill at the SBL meeting are still too expensive. Nothing can change that.

Early on try to find some cheap sources of food.

Food is a good thing to bring. After all, once you eat it, it leaves you room in your suitcase for books.

Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

Never buy food from the Boston Park Plaza hotel. It is too expensive.