SBL: Good and Bad

I had no real inclination to post detailed reflections on this year's SBL Annual meeting in Chicago. Mark Goodacre pointed out that the use of Twitter was an important part of proceedings this year, and even I had a go at it. Not sure what I think.

Instead, I thought I would list 5 good and 5 less good aspects of the Conference for me, in no particular order.


1. People: always the main event, getting to spend time with so many people who (a) share a professional interest and some of whom (b) you also count as personal friends. It was especially good to connect with members of the Chester TRS Department, my dear, dear friends Alan and Ellie Kreider and Brad Braxton, and many other US and UK friends.

2. Papers: the usual mix, but the highlights were a session on Gender, Sexuality and the Bible, Dale Allison's whirlwind presentation in the John, Jesus and History unit (also mentioned by Mark Goodacre) and Thomas Schmeller's elegant negotiation of the bridge between 2 Corinthians 1–9 and 10–13. I also very much enjoyed the session honoring Chris Rowland and discussing the recent Festschrift in his honour.

3. Meetings: On Saturday morning I met Clifford Green, who is Executive Director of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works in English project (one more volume to come in 2013) to discuss wider dissemination of the articles gathered together in Pacifica 25.2 (July 2012) which I edited. Green's book on Bonhoeffer's Theology of Sociality was what reconnected me Bonhoeffer's importance, so it was a pleasure to meet with him before going to hear David Congdon talk about Bonhoeffer's understanding of mission.

4. Receptions: Friday and Saturday nights were quiet. Monday was Chester, Oxford, Kings and Scottish, with T & T Clark/Bloomsbury and Sheffield on Monday. T & T Clark's was the best of these.

5. Books: Only 6 purchases of which the most important are NA28 and Konrad Hamann's biography of Bultmann, which I plan to read slowly alongside a re-reading of Bultmann himself over the summer break.

6. Chicago: sorry this makes 6, I wrote the others first, but this also needs to be mentioned. Its a great city.


1. The McCormick Conference Centre: The epitome of dystopian architecture. Everyone hated it, and not just because of the distances.

2. Bars: reception bars were lightening fast to dismantle at the appointed time, and hotel bars almost all shut up shop by 1am. This left little incentive to stick it out for those 3.30 a.m. discussions about life, the universe and the state of the discipline.

3. Sessions: we need less of them, with fewer papers in each session, to ensure better discussion and interaction by a greater number of qualified and knowledgeable people in the room.

4. Travel: 24 hours door to door: enough said.

5. Books: too many at only 20% discount which meant that they remained unaffordable.

Anyone else have a top 5, or 3, or a list of groans?

Oh, and watch this space for a new reception to be introduced into the Programme Book next year in Baltimore

William Dever in Melbourne: Did God Have a Wife?

For those in the Melbourne area, you may be interested to know that archaeologist William Dever, a critic of the biblical minimalist school of OT interpretation, will be giving a public lecture at the University of Melbourne on Wednesday 18th April at 6.30 p.m., entitled 'Did God Have a Wife?' (Lecture Theatre A, Elizabeth Murdoch Building). Here is the blurb:

The Hebrew Bible portrays the religion of ancient Israel as monotheistic, the worship of a single male deity named Yahweh. Yet the archaeological data recently accumulated shows thatthis may have been the ideal, the reality was quite different. We have hundreds of nude female figurines that represent the old Canaanite Mother Goddess ‘Asherah’. We even have 8th century BCE Hebrew inscriptions naming her as the consort of Yahweh in the context of blessing. This illustrated lecture will show how monotheism developed slowly and with great difficulty in ancient Israel.

It would have been much more fun if the estimable Francesca Stavrakopoulou were here to give the lecture, but Dever might be interesting nonetheless. He is also giving lectures at the Australian Instittue of Archaeology on 20-21 April. Details here.

Conference Announcement 1: Paul in Conversation

A couple of conference announcements over the next 2 days. The first provides a platform for Michael Bird to share his thoughts on 'Paul in Conversation: Ancient and Modern'. The conference will be held at Wesley Institute, Drummoyne (Sydney NSW) on February 11th. Sessions by Mike include 'Paul and the Cult of Celebrity', and 'Paul, Property and Poverty'. Other speakers include Paul Barnett and Edwin Judge. Full details and registration form here.


ANZATS 2012 Call for Papers

Australian & New Zealand Association of Theological Schools

2012 Conference, 1-4 July, Brisbane

The Theological Interpretation of Bible, Church and World

The 2012 Conference Planning Committee is pleased to invite members of ANZATS, ANZSTS and the theological and wider academic community to submit the title of their proposed presentation at this conference and an abstract (250-300 words) by Monday 27 February 2012. This should be accompanied by contact details: name, institutional affiliation, postal address, phone number, and email address. Please address submissions to or to ANZATS 2012, c/- Revd Dr David B. McEwan, 40 Woodlands Drive, Thornlands, QLD 4164. It is expected that most presentations will occupy 30 minutes, including question time.

Plenary speaker
We are delighted to announce that the plenary speaker will be Professor John Goldingay, whose contribution in the field of Old Testament theology and biblical commentary is outstanding. John is the David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament in the School of Theology of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, where he has served since 1997. He is also an associate pastor at St Barnabas’ Episcopal Church, Pasadena. Before coming to Fuller, Dr Goldingay was the Principal of St John's Theological College, Nottingham, England, teaching Old Testament and Hebrew. He is the author of many books and articles, including Old Testament Theology Volume. 1-3 (2003-2009), Walk On (2002), Men Behaving Badly (2000), To the Usual Suspects (1998), Models for the Interpretation of Scripture (1995), and Models for Scripture (1994), as well as commentaries on Daniel, Isaiah, and Psalms. Most recently, he
published Genesis for Everyone (Parts 1 and 2), the first two volumes of the ‘Old Testament for Everyone’ commentary series. He holds membership in the Society of Biblical Literature and serves on the editorial board for the Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies.

About the Conference
The 2012 ANZATS Conference Committee invites papers on research into the theological interpretation of the Bible, the Church and the World. Without intending to be restrictive, this theme draws particular attention to three focal areas of theological reflection: the Bible itself, the nature and mission of the Church, and the inter-relationship of the Christian faith and society. In this latter category, papers can deal with such subjects as the arts, culture, environment, ethics, justice, and politics. The conference will begin with registration and a lecture on the evening of Sunday 1 July, and conclude after lunch on Wednesday 4 July. The venue will be Emmanuel College in the University of Queensland. Delegates will be asked to make their own accommodation bookings separately from registration. For further information and updates please see the ANZATS website:

ANZATS Conference 2012: Hermeneutics

Looking ahead to next year I have found out that the ANZATS (Australian and New Zealand Association of Theological Schools) Conference for 2012 is going to be held in Brisbane from July 1-4. The conference theme will be Hermeneutics. More details to follow, but the more hermeneutically inclined might want to put the dates in their diaries.

God and the New Atheism: Melbourne Conference with David Fergusson

Registration form - final
Information has arrived concerning a forthcoming conference to be held at the Centre for Theology and Ministry in Melbourne on October 10th, with Professor David Fergusson. The theme is to be 'God and the New Atheism' and a Call for Papers has also been issued.

Further details are available from the CTM website 
, including a copy of the Call for Papers and Registration form.

Please publicize the conference as widely as possible.