ETS/SBL Denver 2022 Recap

This was the first year in several years that both of us at D33 were able to attend the ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) and SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) Annual Meetings in person, with IBR (Institute for Biblical Research) in between. This year the conferences were held in Denver, Colorado. As expected, it was an eventful week, as we caught up from the past two years of online or hybrid meetings due to the Covid-19 pandemic shutdowns.

If ETS and SBL were simply about presenting papers and sitting in on papers and plenary sessions, then the online format is very convenient. Some undoubtedly prefer it that way. However, there is more to the conferences than papers and sessions. The opportunity to meet with colleagues, old friends, former students, and former classmates, to meet new colleagues, especially while moving from place to place, and to physically examine and buy books, is only possible in a physical space. Dinners, banquets, and coffee meetings are as important components of the conferences as the papers. Thus, we were grateful to have the opportunity this year to engage in all the festivities that surround the annual meetings. We will, however, provide some summaries of our papers for those who are interested but were unable to attend our sessions.

Besides chairing a session of papers in the New Testament Greek Language and Exegesis section at ETS, I (Stan) also presented two papers at ETS. The first paper was entitled “What Is the Basis of Dodd’s Realized Eschatology?” presented in the Johannine Literature section. I think that this was one of the best sessions that I have participated in for a long time. My paper was preceded by two other papers, one extending Dodd’s realized eschatology and the other challenging it by proposing a form of inaugurated eschatology. My paper examined the linguistic basis of Dodd’s realized eschatology. However, before I did this, I first looked at Dodd’s early life and his times. Despite Dodd being identified with realized eschatology in John’s Gospel, Dodd did not develop his view in relation to his two big books on John (Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel and Historical Tradition in the Fourth Gospel). He first laid out his view in concise form in the journal Theology and developed it more fully in his The Parables of the Kingdom. In fact, in making his argument, Dodd does not rely in a major way upon any significant passage in John’s Gospel. Dodd was a product of his times and reflects its historical liberal thought. Nevertheless, Dodd was severely criticized for his view. I draw upon this history of critique in my own analysis of Dodd’s linguistic basis for realized eschatology in his understanding of especially Matt 12:28//Luke 11:20 and Mark 1:14-15, as well as Mark 9:1. My critique shows the severe shortcomings of his view, since he seems to rely upon some misunderstandings of the Greek used in these and other passages. What is perhaps more surprising is that Dodd’s view has survived as long as it has, when it offers so little. What made the session particularly enjoyable was the final panel discussion, in which the participants and the audience discussed the papers and the topic further. This final session generated many new and helpful thoughts on this topic, and I was honored to be a part of the discussion.

My (Stan) second paper was entitled “The Dating Game: The 2022 Edition for New Testament Manuscripts,” presented in the New Testament Canon, Textual Criticism, and Apocryphal Literature section of ETS. The Dating Game was a television show that kept coming back, and so does discussion of the date of New Testament manuscripts. My paper was first in this section, followed by some specialized studies on various manuscripts to see if there were indicators of early dates for them. I identified three areas for discussion: the issues, the problems, and the solutions to questions of the date of manuscripts. Just as there are many different dates suggested for various New Testament books, so recently there have been various attempts to redate some important early Christian manuscripts. The major efforts at redating argue mostly that one cannot firmly date a New Testament manuscript without comparison with dated non-literary texts. There is much to be said for this view. However, I think that the differences between literary and non-literary hands have not been fully appreciated, and that we must, because of the nature of the discussion, find a way to use undated comparable manuscripts even if we recognize their limitations. I have been criticized for such a view. In the paper, I examine some of these criticisms but I don’t find them particularly convincing in light of the limitations of the proposed alternatives.

I (Dave) presented a paper at ETS entitled “Honor-Shame, Hierarchy, and the Antioch Incident: How Paul’s Rebuke of Peter Protects Honor” in the Asian/Asian-American Theology session. The original subtitle was “How Paul Subverts Cultural Norms,” but as sometimes happens, throughout the course of researching and writing this paper, my conclusion was altered. When I initially conceived of this paper, my impression of this passage (Gal 2:11ff.) was that Paul subverts cultural norms by going against the high-ranking Peter. Admittedly, this was based on my own personal experiences of honor-shame in my Korean-American experience. However, as I investigated honor-shame culture more generally, and analyzed this passage in particular, I realized that Paul actually protects honor culture by rebuking Peter. My methodology was based on Jackson Wu’s book, Reading Romans with Eastern Eyes: Honor and Shame in Paul’s Message and Mission (IVP, 2019). Jackson Wu (or Jackson W.) is his pen name—due to security reasons of living and ministering in East Asia, he uses a different, localized name. I used his three criteria for analyzing honor-shame: (1) tradition, (2) relationship, and (3) hierarchy. I concluded that Paul maintains the newly established tradition of Gentile inclusion (tradition). He also prioritizes collectivism, namely the honor of the Gentiles, over individualism, namely, Peter’s individualistic act (relationship). And because he views himself on equal grounds with the other apostles (as seen in Galatians 2 and 2 Corinthians 11), he works within the hierarchy of the church (hierarchy). Thus, I argued that Paul maintains honor by his rebuke of Peter, not only his own honor, but the honor of the Gentiles and the honor of Peter himself. To my surprise after presenting my paper, I learned that Jackson Wu attended my paper (and the entire session), engaged in the Q&A, and had some positive feedback afterwards. At the end of the session, representatives of InterVarsity Press were kind and generous to announce that they would provide two free copies of books for presenters and attendees of the section.

We are glad we were able to attend this year’s annual meetings. Besides our own paper presentations and chairing of sessions, we enjoyed the variety of Denver’s dining options and the opportunities to reconnect with our colleagues and friends from around the world. We look forward to the annual meetings in San Antonio next year, where the books will continue to be plentiful, the weather will be a bit warmer, and the beef ribs a bit larger.

— David I. Yoon and Stanley E. Porter

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