Monday, November 22, 2010

SBL in ATL, redux

The SBL is well underway now. It takes some effort to avoid getting caught up in the phrenetic activity of this, our largest professional meeting of biblical scholars. But here's a quick rundown of my Saturday experience.

I began the day with two papers in the Intertextuality in the New Testament consultation. First, Alain Gignac's paper, "'We know that everything that Law says... '. Rom 3:9-20 as a narrative utilization of intertextuality that develops its own theory of intertextuality," read Paul's catena of citations from the Psalter and Isaiah (and Ecclesiastes?) in Romans 3 in terms of a judicial seat in which Paul (the prosecutor) called ὁ νόμος ("the Law") as a witness against Israel. Second, J. R. Daniel Kirk's paper, "Toward a Theory of Narrative Transformation: The Importance of First Context in Paul’s Scriptural Citations," sought to develop a theory of intertextuality by employing Greimas's actantial model.

After Kirk's paper, I left the NT intertextual discussion to poke my head into the Institute for Biblical Research's (IBR) Historical Jesus Group discussion. That group recently published a hefty volume, Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence (Darrell Bock and Robert Webb, eds.; WUNT 247; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009), which has been reissued at a less-insane price by Eerdmans. Bock and Webb presented the book's basic historiographical method and a preview of that method's application to the gospel tradition, and James Charlesworth responded. I spoke with Bob at some length about the book the next day (Sunday), especially because I have some fundamental criticisms of his discussion of history and historical method. I'm looking forward to continuing that conversation—and making it public, probably in the JSHJ—in the near future.

In the early evening I attended the Q section, whose theme was "Oral or Written? The nature of the double tradition material." Terence Mournet presented a paper on parsimony and the use of Occam's razor in source-critical analyses, entitled, "Oral Tradition and Q: Historical Complexity and the Synoptic Problem." Alan Kirk then delivered a paper, entitled "Tradition, Memory, and Scribes: Critical Reflections on Some Recent Accounts of the Origins of the Double Tradition," on the media conceptualizations—oral and (or even versus) written media—driving some recent accounts of the Double Tradition (material in Matthew and Luke but not in Mark). These were both interesting discussions, particularly Kirk's, though I'm not convinced of some of his key arguments. Perhaps more on that later.

I spent the evening schmoozing at the British New Testament Society/King's College reception and then with friends from Cincinnati Christian University. All-in-all it was a good day, though Sunday would be, as it turned out, even better.

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