Last week, the Evangelical Theological Society and Society of Biblical Literature had their annual meetings in Atlanta, from Tuesday to Thursday and then Friday through Tuesday, respectively. In between, the Institute of Biblical Research, of which I have recently become a member, had their meeting as well. Between the three of the contributors on this blog, we presented seven papers total:
Stan – “Milestones in Johannine Studies: Great Scholars 2 – B.F. Westcott”
Stan – “Big Enough is Big Enough: A Response to Craig Keener’s Commentary(ies)”
Stan – Respondent for “New Testament Greek Language and Exegesis Greek Competence: Considerations for Scholars, Teachers, and Pastors”
Hughson – “The History, Development, and Future of Papyrology and Its Significance for New Testament Studies.”
Dave – “The Scribal Use of Ekthesis as Discourse Markers in the Galatians Text of Sinaiticus: Some Observations.”
Stan – “Greek Prepositions, Processes, and Cases in an SFL Framework”
Hughson – “Ethnography of Communication: Linking Text and Context in 1 Pet 2:11–3:12”
I spent a majority of the time at the conferences interacting with colleagues, catching up with old friends, discussing our respective research projects, and networking with other scholars in my field. And eating, of course. In the midst of these activities, I did actually attend a few sessions, most of which were stimulating and thought-provoking. But I’d like to share one suggestion that I think would improve attendees’ overall enjoyment of these meetings.
Typically, sections consist of three to four papers with a uniting or common theme, sometimes with a respondent or two. These seem to have been designed in such way as to make each section cohesive around a particular topic, to encourage continuity in discussions. One of the sections I attended was on the Greek preposition (SBL), with Jonathan Watt presiding and Stan Porter, Steve Runge, and Con Campbell each presenting a paper from their own linguistic framework. A 45-minute discussion followed the three presentations. I noted, however, that there were a number of attendees who only stayed for one or two papers, rather than for the entire time. Although I’m sure some of these were due to important reasons, I find that staying in the section the entire time made for a productive and deep discussion. This to me seems like a more productive way to attend papers and engage in discussions than cherry-picking papers here and there, as some might tend to do.
Having said that, my time this year at ETS and SBL, as well as IBR, has been productive, and I think my time and money has been spent well (this of course includes the books I purchased!). I had a great discussion regarding my own paper presentation, and I cherished connecting with my colleagues and friends, and hearing of their experiences and their thoughts, ideas, and research projects. I also had the opportunity to meet various senior scholars in my field, most of whom were very cordial and encouraging. I look forward to next year in San Antonio, where I can talk about biblical studies with my colleagues over some Texan BBQ.
— David I. Yoon