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An amusing Rumour

November 12, 2017

Here’s an amusing story from last week.  For several years I’ve been on the steering committee of the Mark Group, a programme unit in the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL).  Our programme unit came up for renewal this Autumn, and so was set to approach the Program Committee of the SBL for approval.  And here the story begins to be amusing.

Someone (unidentified) apparently alleged to the SBL Program Committee that the steering committee of our Mark Group was packed and dominated by former PhD students of mine.  The SBL Program Committee conveyed their concern about this to the convener of the Mark Group steering committee, who promptly was able to correct this silly claim.  Whereupon the SBL Program Committee withdrew its expression of concern.

Now, to establish the facts, there isn’t a single student of mine on the Mark Group steering committee!  The members of the steering committee are all seasoned and experienced NT scholars in their own right, and hold various views.  So, it’s rather puzzling how this anonymous accusation arose, who formulated it, and why.  Obviously, it must have come from someone who isn’t in the Mark Group!  And yet that person felt secure enough in their ignorance to make the accusation to the SBL Program Committee.

But, in my mind, all that also makes it amusing.  It’s amusing that someone thought I exercised sufficient influence to pack the steering committee of a SBL program unit with my own students.  I don’t do power-politics, and wouldn’t have the clout to do so if I wished.  Anyone who has been at meetings of the Mark Group will know that my colleagues in the discussions are impressively uncowed by whatever I think!  So, I find it very amusing that someone thought otherwise.  You just never know what bizarre thoughts go through people’s heads, do you?  Ah well, it’s all been clarified now, and both the Mark Group and the SBL Program Committee can get on with other things.


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  1. Malicious? Sincere? Spoken in a jest by someone, picked up by another as inspired truth? A conjecture, but later retracted, then again, picked up and suggested as a possibility, conveyed rather differently (paraphrased?) by another? Who knows who said it and under what circumstance, no one will ever know. But to say that the committee members were your former students may indicate some form of unanimity in the issues being covered. And, from the view of the reporter, if this was one of the circumstance stated above, seems like the view that seemed to be held in favor by the committee appears to be similar to your views. That it resembles your views tells about the popularity of your positions, and that it is being viewed, at least by the reporter, to be a prominent one among many.

    • Yes, but anyone who has attended our Mark group sessions will know that there has been a diversity of viewpoints and approaches, hardly a monochrome “team Hurtado”.

  2. Patty permalink

    Some people just love to stir the pot.

  3. David permalink

    Bizarre! And it would be quite unlike you to gate keep! 🙂

  4. Many on social media don’t consider themselves to have arrived unless they have one or more personal trolls. So you have probably achieved at least some level of notoriety in the academic world it seems.

  5. Bill Combs permalink

    Humans are such depraved creatures.

  6. brian permalink

    Humans are such funny creatures.

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