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?
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:
The May 2007 Society of Biblical Literature Forum has been uploaded. As always there are many interesting articles, including an article by bloggerDanny 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:
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:
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: â€œI 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 â€œCorrectionâ€? 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.
The February 2007 SBL Forumis 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:
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):
The latest SBL Forum is online and has a number of interesting articles. Stephen Carlson (of hypotyposeis fame) has a preview of his coming SBL presentation on “Archaic Mark” (MS 2427), while Stefan C. Reif introduces some newly discovered Genizah texts. Another announcement in this month’s forum is that the online journal TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism is now an official SBL publication.
What especially caught my eye in this month’s forum was an article by fellow Canadian and friend Tim McLay. Tim wrote a piece entitled “The Goal of Teaching Biblical and Religious Studies in the Context of an Undergraduate Education.” In this article Tim first deals with the goal of an undergraduate education, which he argues is first and foremost “to learn to think critically and to articulate one’s ideas better in oral and written form.” His second and related claim is that “the content of teaching is irrelevant.” While I have a knee-jerk reaction to Tim’s second claim, in the context of his article I can appreciate his point — especially when you think of it in light of his rhetorical question: “How often are we concerned to finish our lecture rather than entertain a question?” While I am not terribly content driven (witness the fact that I used to have a hard time getting out of the Pentateuch in my OT Literature class!), I do feel that a certain amount of content is necessary for the introductory courses. Nevertheless, Tim’s point is well taken as a reminder to be flexible in the classroom.
Perhaps my more substantial objection is to his first point. Isn’t a liberal arts education more than just critical thinking? Don’t get me wrong — the development of critical thinking skills is a crucial component of a liberal arts education — I just think that a liberal arts education should be so much more. What do you think?