After our Synoptics Steering Committee breakfast, it was the SBL Forum Advisory Board meeting. Shortly afterwards I had a meeting of the Library of New Testament Studies editorial board, and next up was the Pauline Epistles section at which I was presenting a paper. Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that the topic of my paper was circumcision in Galatians. Since a few people at the conference asked me about my regular blogging on this topic, perhaps I should explain that one of my reasons for doing this this year, something I have not done in previous years, is that I did not get the chance to practise the paper in a seminar here ahead of time, so I had not had chance to get any feedback on it.
I was pleased with the way the paper went. It is now my habit on these occasions to present the paper and not to read it. I used to call this "extemporary" but since one definition of this is "Spoken, done, or composed with little or no preparation or forethought" (Answers.com), this is not in fact a very helpful term. To present rather than to read takes, in my experience, a huge amount of extra preparation, not less. One has to make sure that one has all the key information in one's memory, and the structure and balance very clearly worked out. So I think I should talk about "presenting" as opposed to "reading".
That aside, though, I was happy with the reaction. I had a number of incisive and helpful questions, including from Victor Paul Furnish and Sharyn Dowd. And it was nice to have several friends present for support and encouragement, as well as a great audience. My Duke colleague Douglas Campbell chaired the session, the session also included Kathy Barrett Dawson, one of our Duke PhD students, talking on parody in Galatians. The other speakers were John Taylor on "we" language in Galatians, Benjamin Schliesser from Tübingen on faith in Romans, and James Ware on Paul and Job in Philippians.
I was so relieved to have my paper done that changing out of my smart clothes and into casual ones, getting a couple of beers and a steak at the Brew House, and spending time with three of my favourite people, this was a real highlight of the conference, all the more so in that we then went to see Casino Royale, as I previously mentioned. This was my third SBL Bond, with The World is Not Enough in Boston 1999 and Die Another Day in Toronto 2002. Let's hope there'll be another SBL Bond in 2008.