SBL Day Three

Because Margaret and I had both paid our debts to academia, we took today relatively easy. We slept late (for a conference day), ate a leisurely breakfast, spent the morning book-shopping (mostly for Margaret, whose need for print resources is greater than mine), and socializing. I had a lunch meeting with the representatives of Baylor University Press, who have committed themselves to the commentary series of which my James commentary will now form a part. The roster of potential contributors impressed me greatly — some old cronies and some highly-regarded colleagues — and Baylor reports that the commentaries they’ve printed so far have been extremely popular. Moreover, most of the participants caught a glimpse of what a tremendous effect our work can have for a coming generation of Greek students; it occurred to me that one way I could enhance the second edition of my Greek grammar would be to align its use of terminology and examples with the commentary series.

After lunch, I sat in on a small consultation on Ph.D. studies and how programs could and should change. The consultation paid special attention to the problem (at serious risk of growing worse) of the under-representation of scholars from non-dominant cultural groups among tenured faculy and especially on the faculties of advanced-degree-granting institutions. From there, I connected with Margaret again, and we heard some papers on theological interpretations of the Song of Songs. Thence we went to dinner, and from here we’re going to see The Incredibles together. . . .

SBL Day Two

When I arried at the book display, yesterday, Margaret tipped me off that one of my articles has been published in a collection of essays on theological education and rhetoric. My original title was, “What Has Vincennes To Do With Jerusalem?” but the editor required me to demote that to a subtitle, in favor of the more explicit “Rhetoric, Postmodernism and Theological Education.” No mind; I still like the article, and it’s satisfying that it’s out and circulating now.

Later on, I ran into Mark Goodacre, and we conversed about life, work, and the world online. Then, before my response to Stanley Hauerwas, I saw one of my academic exemplars, Robert Morgan (now retired from Oxford). He has generously encouraged me when we’ve met in the past, and today again he offered some very kind positive words about my work and his regard for it.

SBL Day One

The annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (and the American Association of Religion) has gotten off without a hitch, at least for Margaret and me. I got to the 7:30 breakfast meeting on time, but only by the sheerest chance did I arrive at the correct hotel (there are two Marriotts side by side, and the one to which I thought I was going, was not in fact the one toward which I should have been headed. Providentially, I went unawares to the hotel I did not intend to go to — thereby ending up at the hotel to which I should have been headed.

SBL Panel

Now Margaret is giving her paper, the lead-off paper in the Bible and Christian Theology group, and she is cooking. Go, Margaret! She makes a case that Hans Frei’s “plain-sense” legacy to the theological interpretation of Scripture tends to occlude both human accountability for interpretations and the Holy Spirit’s role of guiding and extending the interpretive imagination — an eclipse that Henri de Lubac’s sympathetic account of medieval “spiritual” exegesis can remedy. Lewis Ayres follows Margaret’s paper with a lively argument that de Lubac’s assessment of spiritual exegesis depends on his account of the soul and its purification. Ann Astell is third, discussing de Lubac’s affinity for the work of Teilhard de Chardin. Steve Chapman of Duke gave the final presentation of the panel, observing de Lubac’s opprobrious remarks on Judaism and the theological status of the New Testament. Trent Poplun gave a response to all the papers; I thought he rather missed the point of Margaret’s paper, but he recouped some favor by quoting her appreciatively in his wrap-up remarks.

Friday Take-Off

Waking up early this morning, I finished packing and set out to the airport where I successfully found my beloved Margaret (I thought I knew how much I missed her before I saw her — how foolish of me!), and we made our way to the departure gate. There we re-enacted the annual ritual; of meeting a sizable proportion of the theologians in the area. When we were in Princeton, we’d see all the Greater Philadelphia area; when in Florida, a much smaller gathering of Tampa/St. Pete scholars. Located in Chicago, in one of the highest concetrations of theological academics outside Rome, I’d guess, one sees the familiar faces of faculty colleagues from other institutions, year after year. This time, about a quarter of the Seabury faculty (John Dreibelbis, Paula Barker, and me) is on our flight, along with various other North Side, Hyde Park, and Western Suburbs scholars.

My response is coming along fine; I mostly have to balance the background information that give the response intelligibility with the actual criticism. Margaret’s paper will, of course, rock.

Manic Thursday


My full day today included working on my response to the Hauerwas paper, various appointments and errands, writing letters of recommendation (about which I try to be scrupulously honest and careful, so they take me ages), and the disputatio between the Augustinians and the Pelagians in my Early Church History course. The judge (in the center) added to the memorable quality of the event by wearing a real judicial wig — a first, in my class.

I’ve been asked to comment on Andrew’s post and Jonnybaker’s reponse about Emergent Church and the Renaissance and Reformation. I owe my emergent friends — or, more precisely, my friends in the emergent movement — careful enough attention that I can’t write that out just now, but I’ll take a look, maybe on the airplane tomorrow, and see what I see. Thanks for asking!

Coming Attractions

At this point, it seems as though we’re going to give up on the corrupt MT database — translation: “the database that I garbled irredeemably” — and start the Disseminary websites over again. I’m only slightly miffed that it turns out that Trevor had backed up the Limature database a mere few hours before I munged the file. Please be patient, and we’ll start up a shiny new backend which we hope you won’t be able to detect (except that you may miss the comments that point to opportunties for exotic photos, arcane pharmaceuticals, and Bill Bennet-style resorts).

Heartfelt, intense thanks to Jim, Chris, Boris, and everyone else who wrestled with the results of my technical carelessness.


David Weinberger has generously pointed to the Real Media version of the CSPAN webcast of the first John Kluge Lecture at the Library of Congress, wherein David alludes to me (the real reason everyone was watching, David) at. . . well, I haven’t come to the part where he mentions me, but Josiah phoned last night to tell me that he was watching David talk about me even as he spoke to me on the phone.

Ooops, there it is! Forty-four minutes in. What kind things David says — he’s right about so many other things, how can he be so wrong about me? Oh, and my forgiveness blog (followed up here, here, here, and here) has fallen out of the top page of Google entries for “forgiveness,” unless a whole flock of people begin linking to it again to support David’s “knowledge” rap.