Bloggin' SBL 08 - Part 4

I’m sitting in bed here in the hotel doing a little reading in two of my favorite purchases, the New English Translation of the Septuagint and Hengel’s The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ, and realize that I have some SBL updating to do. So here I am, giving you my summary of the happenings of Sunday. Later tonight or tomorrow morning I’ll post on today’s highlights.

My first session yesterday turned out to be...less than exciting. It was on teaching, but after the first lecture it was looking like the profs were just going to break down how their schools organized their curriculum so I decided to bail. Sometimes that would be very appealing to me as I have a special interest in education, but at the moment it wasn’t floating my boat, so I left for the exhibit hall.

Between writing this on the bed and actually getting it posted on the blog I find that I am not the only one who found that session to be a snoozer. Funny. I must say, Chris, that in Darwinistic terms my flight instinct is clearly more advanced than yours since it took you three sessions to leave and it only took me one. This might mean you are on the evolutionary chopping block. I’m sorry...

Lots of people stared at me yesterday. And no, it’s not just because I’m ugly. I think it was because I was wearing a t-shirt insulting bloggers (thanks for the b-day present mom!). I’m not sure why everyone was staring at me. I bet some were because they were wondering who the slacker was that was wearing a t-shirt. The dress here is always much better than that. Some were probably staring just so they could read it. Maybe some even found it funny. I hope so. I was wearing it because that night we had the annual biblioblogger dinner. I find the best way to make friends is to insult everyone around you :)

After my shopping spree I headed back down the street to the hotel to drop off my books. On the way I dropped by the Burger King I saw on one of my walks, which was an improvement over some of the snicker snacks and SBL/conference venue provided food. And it was cheap, which is usually not true of the food in the area.

The first afternoon session I attended was a session of one of the apocrypha/pseudepigrapha groups. I got there late so I had to wait till the end of the first speaker to sit, and then I had to sit on the first row. This, of course, made me uncomfortable as I was now sitting in front of a panel of people wearing a dorky shirt that says "More people read this shirt than your blog." The session itself was pretty interesting. It was focused around reviews of two books, one by Christopher Tuckett on the Gospel of Mary and another by a few fellows on some early unidentified gospel fragments. In the case of Tuckett, it was nice to put a face with a name.

My final session for the evening was hard to find. The fellow chairing the meeting (didn’t know it at the time) and I both came to the Jefferson room in the Sheraton where this was supposed to be and, lo and behold, another session was meeting there. We both lamented our lost-ness in sackcloth and ashes and immediately proceeded to get directions. We got them but they weren’t very straight forward, so we had to stop and ask again. As it turns out the meeting was indeed in the Jefferson room, but it was in the Hilton across the street, not the Sheraton. When we got there the meeting had already started, but we got most of the very interesting first discussion.

The first one was on a new papyrus fragment of James found at Oxyrhynchus. It is so new it doesn’t even have a POxy number yet, much less a Gregory-Aland number. The discussion was very interesting as he walked us through the digital images and showed us his various paleographic thoughts on it. Very interesting. The next few sessions were of less interest but were helpful. The last was a little more on the interesting side and was about how the Shepherd of Hermas, in terms of its general paleographic characteristics, is not discernibly different from the paleographic characteristics of texts now considered canonical. There is nothing surprising in this because we all know (and if you didn’t know, now you do) that it was fairly widely considered canonical early on. In the first few centuries it shows up as the third most extant Christian papyri, third only to Matthew and John. That’s significant.

Afterwards the bibliobloggers met outside the exhibit hall before going over to Dillons for food and strong drink. There were over 20 of us and we had a good time. It was definitely the highlight of my day. This probably won’t surprise you, but most of the introductions went like this for just about everyone:

Me: (introducing myself to random blogger) "Hi, I’m Eric Sowell."
Blogger: "Who?"
Me: "Eric Sowell"
Blogger: "What blog to you have?"
Me: ""
Blogger: "Oh yeah, I recognize you now. I’m X"
Me: "Who?"

...and so on. It’s sad, but hopefully we won’t have to do that next year as we have now met. And, by the way, I think we all need to put pictures up so that next time it will be easier to remember. You can see more on the dinner at a few other blogs, like here, here and here (with pictures). And yes, towards the end, the dinner did degenerate into something like this.

There were only two unpleasant things about the dinner. First, I ordered an appetizer which I thought would resemble fried cheese. As it turns out it was uncooked mozzarella slices with uncooked tomatoes. There was no frying involved. Since eating this would have made me healthier, I promptly gave it away. Second, Michael Halcomb convinced me I was wrong about something. The Paul thing, Michael, not the Mark thing. You’re still wrong about that :)

After that I took the long walk back to the hotel room to get a good night’s sleep. I had no idea that the next morning held an unpleasant surprise for me...

Tune in next time for another exciting installment of, Bloggin’ the SBL!

PS: Michael, did you ever find your CC?


Michael Halcomb 2008-11-25 07:23:30

Good post! And yes, thank the Good Lord, the CC turned up! After the restaurant searched the vault and said it wasn’t there, I left. Halfway down the street, a gal comes running out yelling, "Mr. Halcomb, we found it; a worker had not put it where it should have been." Ahhh, sweet relief. Good meeting you, even if you have "weak" arguments on the "strong" man :)

Eric 2008-11-27 09:55:46

Good news. That would really have gotten in the way of book buying!