I got back safely on Wednesday morning, happily free of the problems that seem to have affected almost everyone I've spoken to with respect to the flights out of San Antonio. People were re-routed, delayed, had flights cancelled, struck by lightning (seriously), ended up overnight in hotels and so on. My only mini-crisis was having to run for my life to make my connection in Newark, having flown out from Austin with a delay.
I was in meetings for much of Monday. At 1 I chaired (in SBL speak "presided") at the second Synoptic Gospels section. Presiding is hard work -- I'd rather give a paper any time. You have to control your speakers, get the timing right, watch the audience, worry about the technology working and so on. It was my second time doing it and I made a better job of it than last year. I noticed how many other chairs went for the "5 minutes" card / piece of paper, placing in front of the speaker to give them a warning to wind up. This seemed to work a treat as all the speakers stuck to their 25 minutes. The session was headed "Sight, Sound and Memory: Composition and Reception of the Synoptic Gospels". First problem: I arrived absolutely drenched simply from crossing the road in the pouring rain. I hadn't thought to bring an umbrella with me to Texas. Second problem: there was no USB cable to plug my laptop in to the data projector for the powerpoint presentations to be used by two of the speakers. So we had to go with inserting CD-ROMs into the main computer. Third (related) problem: the Bernard Brandon Scott had not loaded his Greek font onto his CD, and hadn't embedded it in his presentation, so his Greek-rich presentation came out in Roman characters.
Those worries aside, the session went OK. Richard Burridge spoke on his Gospels as biography thesis, with a nice powerpoint presentation. Brandon Scott talked about sound maps of Luke 1-2, again with powerpoint. Edward Klink III speed-read a response to Margaret Mitchell's critique of Richard Bauckham's Gospels for all Christians paper from last year. And Travis Derico gave a presentation on his work on oral tradition in the Jordan, with only a slight connection to his seminar paper on the topic.
By Monday tea-time I had a huge sense of relief. I realised that I could finally begin to enjoy myself properly, paper done, presiding done, all but one meeting done. I treated myself by going first to the book exhibit and then to the first half of the Bible in Ancient and Modern Media section, very poorly attended (I counted fifteen people). Somewhat annoyingly, they had adjusted the order of the papers in the programme so I only caught the end of one of the papers I'd wanted to get to, David Shepherd on the Life of Moses in film, the chap who had chaired the Fulco and Fitzgerald interview the previous night. He had to dash straight off after his paper to catch a flight. Talk about bad planning! Next up was a curious paper on the performance of Amos. And then Richard Walsh on "The Gospel according to Judas" all about Judas in film. I am a sucker for anything on Jesus in film and found this most interesting, nice to listen to someone more obsessed with Jesus films than I am. Earlier, I bought his book about film portrayals of Jesus. It looks interesting, though one chapter looks like it is filled with stuff trying to relate Godspell to Q, which does not look promising.
I then scooted across to catch the end of the Mark Group and to hear Susan Miller talking about Mark as combat myth.
On Tuesday I got to the Programme Unit Chairs' Breakfast, which requires a huge room, and which gave Matthew Collins the chance to provide updates on everything that is going on with the Annual Meeting. It was interesting to hear him talk about scheduling difficulties and how the programme is put together. There was also some discussion of the new move to open up the sections still further and to allow them to increase the number of sessions should they wish to do so.