Back from “The Big Show” in Baltimore
I returned Wednesday this week (27 Nov) from the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (this year in Baltimore), 23-26 November, hence the lack of postings for the last week or so. With ca. 10 thousand registered, hundreds of sessions (scores held simultaneously), and many hundreds of presentations, it is impossible to do more there than choose a few sessions of special interest.
I gave a paper in a session observing 2013 as the centenary of the publication of Wilhelm Bousset’s classic book, Kyrios Christos. The papers from that session are to appear in due course in the journal Early Christianity. The English translation of the book appeared in 1970, indicative of its continuing importance in the field of Christian Origins, and it was good that Baylor University Press obtained the rights to re-publish that translation (out in October this year), to which I contributed a new Foreword in which I surveyed the reception of the book, both the earlier German editions and also the English translation.
I also attended the Mark Seminar sessions, which featured a number of papers on various interesting topics. The discussions in that group are always animated, but remain cordial and civil, an excellent example! This year, for instance, there was vigorous discussion following a paper arguing essentially that Mark reflects a view of Jesus as simply a Messiah, and denying any “transcendent” dimension in the Markan narrative of Jesus.
In another session, there were interesting papers on the Public Reading of Texts in Early Christianity. Michael Holmes considered various proposals for the origin, transmission and collection of the Pauline letter corpus. And a young scholar from Lund, Dan Nasselqvist, discussed the various “readers aids” in early Christian biblical manuscripts, engaging my proposal that these reflect an accommodation to a diversity of “sub-elite” readers.
In addition, there were the many informal chats with colleagues from around the world, and perhaps the largest display of books in religion from hundreds of publishers. Quite a show! But now, back to my desk and the several things I’ve committed to write.