Wednesday, November 23, 2011

home again, home again, jiggity jig

I've just returned home after six action-packed days in San Francisco. I attended the back-to-back annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society, the Institute for Biblical Research, and the Society of Biblical Literature. I heard at least 30 papers presented, presented one myself, and had conversations with at least 55 people (those are the ones I could remember off-hand).

Exhausting? Yes.
Exhilerating? You bet.

The highlights:
  • Rooming with 4 other wonderful women, and hanging out with many others. If you read my most recent post, you know that women are a minority in these circles. I was blessed to have fellowship with many godly women who are cheerfully and faithfully engaged in the study and teaching of God's Word. The demographics did not seem any better this year in terms of gender (though there was a noticeable increase in other ethnicities represented), but I was never lonely.
  • Catching up with old friends. ETS and SBL are a virtual reunion for those in this field, so I ran into friends and professors from all 3 Christian institutions where I've studied: Multnomah, Gordon-Conwell, and Wheaton. What a treat!
  • Networking. Last year I was in the thick of applying to doctoral programs, so I had meetings with five potential supervisors, two potential employers, and other contacts from various schools. This year I was delightfully free to engage in conversation with friends who are in the exploratory stage and connect them with those I knew at various schools. My enthusiasm for Dr. Block as a supervisor persuaded at least 4 of my friends to meet with him and discuss the possibility of studying with him in the future.
  • Shadowing Dr. Block. I had the privilege of tagging along with Dr. Block to a meeting with one of his publishers and being part of the discussion about cover styles, editing, and future projects. Not only that, I witnessed him in action as he gave papers and participated in panel discussions, fielding all sorts of questions. He is a wonderful model of careful scholarship and respectful interaction with people all across the spectrum of approaches to Scripture.
  • Scholarly discussion. In most sessions there is time for questions after papers are presented. After attending a paper by a doctoral student from the University of Chicago, I approached him to ask him more about his work. Four of us stood around and talked about the metaphorical uses of a particular Hebrew word and the implications for the theology of the Hebrew Bible. It was as natural as talking about our favorite flavors of ice cream! The other student expressed strong interest in my dissertation work and wants to keep in touch so we can continue the conversation.
On the last day a friend and I took a quick trip down to the bay via cable car to see the Bay Bridge, eat crab chowder, buy souveniers for our kids, and sample some Ghiradelli chocolate. So, yes, I'm a geek, but I did take at least a few hours out to play!

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