Thursday, November 27, 2003

SBL Sunday

I am not going to be able to remember the rest in order. Saturday sticks in my mind in a big way because of my own involvement. On Sunday I started enjoying myself properly. One of the sections I attended across Sunday and Monday was the Mark Group and the theme this year was Jesus' trial in Mark, the first day specifically focusing on the blasphemy charge and including papers from Adela Yarbro Collins and Jeffrey Gibson. The second of the Synoptics sections was the open session, with four papers, Stephen Moore, Albert Harrill, Alex Damm and Simon Gathercole. Gathercole's paper was excellent -- a defence of a Danielic application of the Son of Man language throughout Mark's Gospel, from the Son of Man has authority statements in Mark 2 through to the vindication of the Son of Man statements in Chapters 13 and 14, from revelation to suffering to vindication. It was a model of how to give an engaging paper -- clear but with a kind of relaxed good humour that engages the audience. I missed Bert Harrill because I wanted to hear Catherine Smith (one of our post-grads in Birmingham) speaking in the Biblical Language and Linguistics section -- a proud moment when one's own students present papers at an international conference. But dashed back to the Synoptics as soon as that was finished and just back in time for Alex Damm on the application of rhetoric to the Synoptic Problem. Damm is a graduate student of John Kloppenborg in Toronto. I was happy to hear him focus on the Mark-Without-Q hypothesis along with the Two Document Hypothesis in his paper, which was essentially an attempt to show that Luke's use of Q is more plausible than Luke's use of Matthew in the Beelzebub Controversy. He looked at rhetorically effective elements that are distinctive to Matthew which one would have expected Luke to have taken over had he known Matthew. I was not convinced by the argument myself and asked a question to the effect that Luke's use of Matthew and Luke's use of Q are not hypotheses competing on a par. We do not have Q, so that thesis functions at an automatic advantage in this kind of discussion. In particular, Luke's order here becomes Q's order, so it is fruitless to compare Luke's order of Q with Matthew's in this kind of context. But I am happy once again to hear the Farrer Theory being taken seriously; this has marked the work of several post graduate students from Toronto including Robert Derrenbacker and Zeba Crook.

Speaking of Derrenbacker, I attended the Q section on the Sunday too and Derrenbacker gave the best and most engaging of the papers there, admitting that Matthew's re-ordering of the Q material could be constituted as a problem for the Two-Source Theory, because it is so different from Q's order, but suggesting that Matthew was able to gain random access to Q by accessing it in notebook or codex format. The theme for the session was Matthew and Q and consisted of five papers, Marco Frenschkowski, Joseph Verheyden, Robert Derrenbacker, Clare Komoroske Rothschild and Linden Youngquist. I am afraid that my tiredness was really kicking in by this stage so I slept through at least some of all of these. (I sleep through at least some of pretty much all academic papers; it has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the papers; it's just a question of tiredness. Recommendation: if you want me to hear all of your paper, ask me to chair it and I might just manage to stay awake.). After the five speakers, Ulrich Luz gave thirty minute response to them all. It was his first SBL and was clearly enjoying the occasion. The chairing of the section was even worse than my chairing of the Synoptics section, though, since Luz finished after the scheduled finish and there was not time for the allotted discussion. I suspect that they were trying to cram too much in to the session to attempt to cover five papers and a major response and still have time for discussion.

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