The best part of the meeting, however, came from an off-hand comment from the session presider, Ralph Hawkins of Kentucky Christian University. As he was introducing Doug Oakman, he mentioned that Sharon Lea Mattila's paper schedule for Sunday morning. I had no idea Sharon would be here (I've never met her), but I knew I had encountered her name somewhere. Then I remembered: I used her article, "A Question too Often Neglected" (NTS 41 , 199–217), which I discussed in a previous post. So after the meeting I made a bee-line to introduce myself to Sharon, which was a bit of an inconvenience for her, I think. But the ASOR/SBL group was going out to dinner, and she invited me to join them. So I sat between Sharon and Ralph and thoroughly enjoyed the conversation on a number of topics, including a very interesting new book put out by T&T Clark.
Perhaps the best part of the evening, I suppose, was that Sharon assumed I was a graduate student, and I think Ralph, too, didn't realize I've finished my degree. I don't mind being underestimated; in fact, I prefer it. So when they asked my age, Ralph was very encouraging (apparently the average age of the beginning PhD student is 40) and Sharon was surprised I wasn't 25. I felt good on both counts! But the professional aspects of the conversation—rather than those parts that played to my vanity—were the highlight of the meeting thus far. These are one of the perks of my field!