SBL 2013 – A Very Nice Time 1

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Larry Schiffman

Larry Schiffman, photo by Jim West

We will be leaving first thing in the morning tomorrow, but had a great time. I heard a number of excellent papers and saw so many great friends who shared their love and concern for us. It was affirming, sad, and wonderful all at once.

There is a consultation on the Megilloth in which I presented a paper and heard even better papers. I thought Andrew Davis had a very thought provoking paper with a few simple, yet profound observations:

  1. In all five of the Scrolls God is not a participant with the only exception being the end of Ruth where “the LORD enabled [Ruth] to conceive.”
  2. Whereas they do not share a theology, they do share a way of doing a theology. This, he said (if I got it right) is a “theology mediated through lived experience.” I find this very compelling. For Ruth I might have said it was narrative theology, but he has placed an even finer point on it, drawing us close to something like natural theology. That is, Qohelet, Ruth, Song of Songs and the others all work out their theologies by exploring “real” life. There is no revelation, no angelic declarations, just people making their way through life.

As you can see, much to think about. While we probably have more than enough formal sessions at SBL, this is well worth considering.

As I said, it was great to see so many old friends and it was nice to have Jim West documenting it for all of us. This evening we even managed to get to the bloggers dinner (even though I forgot about the actual session.

I am somewhat proud of the fact that the only book purchase I made at the conference was David Wilkie’s Coffee with Jesus. (I should note, thought I missed it myself, the new book by friend and Schreyer Scholar Mary Elizabeth Sperry Scripture in the Parish: A Guide for Catholic Ministry.)

I wish everyone, regardless of your home country, a blessed time as we give thanks for all that we have.

 

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