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SBL New Orleans 2009

24th November 2009

Well, the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, as well as the International Organization of Septuagint and Cognate Studies, is over. New Orleans was great. The French Quarter has a lot of character; Bourbon Street was a bit more seedy than I remembered. I had a chance to see some of the rest of New Orleans as well. It seems that it either hasn’t quite recovered from Katrina or (more likely) it has been hit hard by the economic downturn — or a combination of both (at least the Saints are doing well!).

The conference was good. It seems a bit more manageable without AAR (first time I can recall having enough space in the conference rooms), though there are some sessions which I miss not having the opportunity to attend. I heard some good papers in the Chronicles/Ezra-Nehemiah, Septuagint, and Psalms sections, among others. I also had a nice time at a dinner organized by fellow blogger John Hobbins. The dinner featured a local chef who was superb (I now can say I like collard greens; I had them before in Arizona and thought they were awful, but now I know it was just the way they were prepared).   Michael Fox was the special guest at the dinner; after a great introduction by Ray Van Leeuwen, he chatted about the second volume of his AB commentary on Proverbs (which will be the leading commentary on Proverbs for quite a while). I also met up with other bloggers at the function organized by Jim West. It was great to put some faces to the names.

The book displays were also in fine form. I spent far too much money on too few books (the prices were right, but the fact is books are just getting more and more expensive). I’ll have to post about some of my purchases at a later date.

Now to get back into lecture prep and grading mode… bah!

Posted in Academic Associations, IOSCS, SBL | Comments Off

Blogging the SBL Annual Meeting – Proposals & Prospects

25th April 2008

The editor of the SBL Forum, Leonard Greenspoon, has asked for my input in how best to blog the coming annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature to be held in Boston, Massachusetts, in November 2008. I have a number of ideas, though I thought it would be good to propose some ideas and then open up discussion from other bibliobloggers. Here are my ideas:

  • First, the goal shouldn’t be to blog the entire meeting. That, obviously, would be a bit too much. I would think that all of the major presentations should be covered (e.g., the presidential address) as well as some of the more controversial papers. In addition, some editorial pieces may be worthwhile, especially since this will be the first SBL without the AAR.
  • Second, in addition to the type of posts noted in the first point, the SBL Meeting Blog should also serve as an ongoing “carnival-like” repository of links to SBL-related discussions going on in the blogosphere. Thus, someone could keep and eye out and put together a daily round-up of links. Even better, bloggers could be asked to email a trackback url to the editor of the SBL Meeting Blog when a relevant post is uploaded.
  • Third, perhaps a regular podcast from the SBL meeting could be arranged and distributed via the SBL Meeting Blog. This could include interviews with some SBL bigwigs, discussion of controversial papers, or just general impressions of the meeting.

If these are the sort of things the SBL Meeting Blog would cover, then the blog would need to be a team blog with different disciplines represented and perhaps an overal editor/organizer. Then we could assign certain bloggers to cover certain papers and topics, etc. Of course there would have to be some technical details worked out; first and foremost the question of where the blog would be located and what blogging platform would be used (WordPress is my vote). Leonard wants this as part of the SBL Forum, though I am not sure if their server has blogging software capability (I assume it probably does, though I am not sure if it is a unix based server or not).

At any rate, those are some of my ideas. I now open up the comments for a discussion on how best to blog the SBL annual meeting. What say you?

Posted in Blogging, SBL, SBL Forum | 5 Comments »

June-July SBL Forum

26th June 2007

The summer edition of the Society of Biblical Literature Forum has been uploaded. It’s understandably a bit sparse, though there are some interesting articles nonetheless. I especially enjoyed Michael Homan’s piece humanizing archaeological destruction layers through his personal experience of hurricane Katrina. I’ve been a reader of Michael’s blog for a couple years and am familiar with all he experienced. He will be covering the dig at Tel Zeitah, so make sure to give his blog a look. I also found the article on Zimri interesting, though I’m not sure how it fits under “In the Profession.”

Here is the full table of contents of the June-July 2007 (vol. 5, no. 6) edition:

In the Public Sphere

In the Profession


Society News

Letters to the Editor



Posted in Academic Associations, SBL, SBL Forum | 1 Comment »

May 2007 SBL Forum: Getting Wired without Vowel Pointing and More Tombs

9th May 2007

The May 2007 Society of Biblical Literature Forum has been uploaded. As always there are many interesting articles, including an article by blogger Danny Zacharias about some of the on-line tools Google offers the instructor (and one non-Google tool as well). Of particular interest to me is the article by William Griffin about teaching biblical Hebrew without vowel pointing, or at least severely reducing the typical emphasis placed on the nikkudot. My knee-jerk reaction to the title of the article was “no way… that would make it so much harder for students,” but as I read the article Griffin makes a strong case for how it reduces the amount of memorization for students (but it does increase the number of interpretive possibilities for various forms). I totally agree with his historical arguments, and that is why I wean students off the pointing in intermediate Hebrew classes. All in all his article is definitely worth a careful perusal for all teachers and students of Classical Hebrew.

Another worthy initiative that the SBL is venturing into is developing a collection of syllabi related to biblical studies. This sounds much like the resources that the Wabash Center offer, but restricted to biblical studies. Finally, there is a brief note on the discovery of King Herod’s tomb.

Here is the full table of contents of the May 2007 (vol. 5, no. 5) edition:

In the Public Sphere

In the Profession

In the Classroom

In Popular Culture

Society News


Letter to the Editor


Posted in Academic Associations, SBL, SBL Forum | 2 Comments »

SBL Forum April 2007: Archaeology, Ignorance, and Faith

12th April 2007

The April 2007 Society of Biblical Literature Forum has been uploaded. Once again there are many interesting articles, including an interesting piece on biblical archaeology and another on translating sentiment. I would like to especially note the article by Stephen Prothero on “Worshiping in Ignorance” (the title is a bit misleading as the article is about religious illiteracy in the United States). This article is actually from the Chronicle of Higher Education (the Forum piece is just a link).

Here is the full table of contents of the April 2007 (vol. 5, no. 4) edition:

In the Public Sphere

In the Profession

In the Classroom

On Location

In Translation


Posted in SBL Forum | Comments Off

Talpiot in the SBL Forum

15th March 2007

There have been a couple late additions to the Jesus/Talpiot Tomb debate in this month’s SBL Forum (see my previous post here).

First, there is a lengthy response by James Tabor to the articles by Jodi Magness and Christopher Rollston. Tabor’s article, Two Burials of Jesus of Nazareth and The Talpiot Yeshua Tomb, primarily deals with Magness’s criticisms, though he also addresses Rollston’s questions surrounding the identification with the family of Jesus of Nazareth.

Tabor also helpfully offers some comments about the nature of the debate and some suggestions for future research:

The nature of the question, with its theological and emotional overtones, coupled with the way the issue was put before the public and the academy (i.e., through a documentary film and a trade book) has understandably galvanized the responses into “yes” or “no,” (mostly “no”), when reasonable alternatives might be “possible but uncertain,” to even “probable but not certain,” but in any case a call for further investigation. I will make some suggestions at the end of this piece regarding directions for future research.
Taken as a whole it seems to me that this tomb and its possible identification with Jesus and Nazareth and his family should not be dismissed. The evidence from the gospels I have surveyed, coupled with the cluster of significant names that fit our hypothetical expectations for a posited pre-70 Jesus family tomb, is strong, and should be further tested. Of course, if the ossuary inscribed “James son of Joseph,” is added to the cluster, and the evidence for that possibility is unresolved at this point, the correspondence would be all the more striking. What is needed is further work on the epigraphy, expanded patina tests, further DNA testing if that is possible, and since the tomb in 1980 had to be excavated so quickly, but now has been located, a fuller archaeological examination of the site itself.

Tabor also has a response to the letter to the editor by Jonathan Reed.

The other article added to the SBL Forum is by Stephen J. Pfann. In his article, “Mary Magdalene is Now Missing: A Corrected Reading of Rahmani Ossuary 701,” Pfann offers an alternative analysis of the “Mariamene the Master” inscription. He argues the inscription reads “Mariame and Mara” and suggests the ossuary contained the bones of at least two different women — neither of being Mary Magdalene.

James Tabor has a response to Pfann’s new reading of the inscription on his Jesus Dynasty blog. Tabor consulted noted epigrapher Leah Di Segni and she writes: “I well remember that, while here and there I had some suggestions about interpretation of a particular form (for instance, Mariamenon being an hypochoristic form of Mariam), I could not but confirm all his readings. I have not changed my mind now.â€? I encourage you to read his whole post, “Leah Di Segni on the Pfann “Correctionâ€? of Rahmani.”

Now that the initial buzz surrounding this “Jesus tomb hypothesis” seems to be dying down a bit, I hope that there will be some more fruitful academic debate surrounding the tomb and ossuaries — and I think that these Forum articles are a good start.

Posted in Historical Jesus, Jesus Tomb, SBL Forum, Talpiot tomb, The Tomb Documentary | 1 Comment »

SBL Forum March 2007: Biblical Studies Carnival

9th March 2007

The March 2007 Society of Biblical Literature Forum has been uploaded. Once again there are many interesting articles, including one by yours truly on the Biblical Studies Carnival. In addition, there is some coverage of the Jesus/Talpiot Tomb debate, among other things.

Here is the full table of contents of the March 2007 (vol. 5, no. 3) edition:

In the Public Sphere

In the Profession

In the Classroom

In Popular Culture

Society News


Letters to the Editor


Posted in Academic Associations, Biblical Studies Carnival, SBL, SBL Forum | 1 Comment »

SBL Forum February 2007: Manuscripts, Monsters, and ETANA

30th January 2007

The February 2007 SBL Forum is online and includes a number of interesting articles and news items. Any academics considering moving for work will want to read blogger Michael Bird‘s piece on the “biblical studies disaspora.” Those interested in my current series on ANE creation stories will want to read Mobley’s discussion of Chaos monsters where he begins by discussing Enuma elish, as well as the news update on ETANA.

Here is the full table of contents of the February 2007 (vol. 5, no. 2) edition:

In the Public Sphere

In the Profession

In Popular Culture


Letters to the Editor


Posted in SBL, SBL Forum | 1 Comment »

January (December?) SBL Forum is Online

21st December 2006

The December 2006 edition SBL Forum is online — at least I think it is the December edition. It says it is the January 2007 Forum, but it’s still December and there hasn’t been a December Forum yet. Furthermore, in an email conversation with Leonard Greenspoon about the Forum, he noted that he was busy working on the December Forum. Whether it is the December or January SBL Forum, it is there in all its glory.

This edition has a number of interesting articles. Here is the table of contents in full (I am going to make reproducing the contents of each Forum in full my habit since there is no index to previous Forums):

SBL Forum – January 2007 (vol. 5 no. 1)

In the Classroom


In Popular Culture

Make sure to take a gander at Mark Goodacre’s review of The Nativity Story as well as James Crossley’s look at the Teen Bible.

Posted in Nativity Story, SBL, SBL Forum | Comments Off

Edmonton SBL Hebrew Scriptures Satellite Fall Seminar

23rd November 2006

As the coordinator of the Edmonton SBL Hebrew Scriptures Satellite, I would like to announce our fall seminar:

“The Prospects and Potentials of a Narratological Approach to the Pentateuch Targums�

Simon Adnams Lasair
University of Manchester

Response by Dr. Francis Landy
Professor, Department of History and Classics and Program of Religious Studies, University of Alberta

Thursday 30 November 2006 – 7:30 pm
Senate Chamber, Old Arts Building (Arts 326), University of Alberta.


This paper presents some of the initial findings of the author’s PhD thesis A Narratological Approach to the Pentateuch Targums, and shows what relevance this work has to the field of Targum Studies. The argument presented herein states that narratology can help to clarify many important differences between the targums and the Hebrew Bible, which in turn will allow scholars to address questions concerning how the targums might have functioned in various social and historical contexts. Several examples are given describing various narratological differences manifested between the targums and the Hebrew Bible. The discussion then turns to some methodological issues that are raised by this work and suggests how an engagement with these issues can help to further the work of targum scholars. Through this overview it is hoped that this paper will demonstrate how narratology can be used by scholars to further their understandings of targums and targumic literature.


Simon Adnams Lasair received his B.A. in Judaic and Christian Studies from Providence College, Otterburne, MB in 2001. In 2002 he was granted the degree of M.A. with distinction in Jewish Studies from the University of Manchester, Manchester, UK. The title of his M.A. dissertation was “A Methodological Enquiry into the Problem of the Provenance of Targum Onqelos.� Mr. Adnams is currently a third year PhD student at the University of Manchester, working on his dissertation, “A Narratological Approach to the Pentateuch Targums� supervised by Prof. Alexander Samely.

If you are in the Edmonton area, please feel free to join us.

Posted in Aramaic Targums, Emergent, SBL | Comments Off