This continues my week-late blogging series on my time at SBL. On Sunday morning I attended the Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures session, the topic of which was a review of Marvin Sweeney’s 2008 Fortress Press volume Reading the Hebrew Bible after the Shoah: Engaging Holocaust Theology. The panel consisted of Walter Brueggemann, Frederick Greenspahn, Dennis Olson, and Patricia Tull, with a final response by Marvin Sweeney. It was a very fine set of reviews. Brueggemann offered a judicious review, but pressed Sweeney on not looking at the dialogical character of God in these matters; vintage Brueggemann! In a tongue-in-cheek moment I am certain, Brueggemann concluded his reflections by praising Sweeney’s volume, but noting that it in no way offers a “final solution to the problem” (get it?). Greenspahn’s paper took a bit of a different knack, doing less review and more of his own constructive work, looking at how it is that this discussion informs the contemporary Israeli/Palestinian conflict (his comments were reminiscent of Marc Ellis, if you are familiar with his work, though Greenspahn had more of a biblical grounding). One powerful moment was when he cited Jon Levenson’s statement that the Hebrew Bible does not possess anything akin to Christian anti-Judaism because, fortunately, the Canaanites and Amalekites are no longer in existence. This drew a chuckle from the crowd, but then he noted that contemporary Israelis–even seminal, not just militant, ones–have and do refer to Palestinians as “Amalek,” thus attempting to advance a biblical legitimation of mass destruction and death. It was a powerful image, and one worthy of a great deal of thought and reflection.
From there I met with a Genesis scholar from the UK, Laurence Turner. For those that are unfamiliar with Turner’s work, I have noted my deep appreciation for it several times (see HERE and HERE, as well as the comments to this latter post w here Turner responds). It was a very fine time discussing these texts with someone who has thought about them as much–perhaps even more–than I have done. I look forward to continuing to dialogue with Turner; I even gave him a copy of my initial dissertation chapter.
At 4:00 I went and heard Rolf Jacobson’s paper on “Theological Implications of Creation’s Praise of the LORD.” Jacobson is a very fine presenter with a stellar and quick wit and very fine sense of humor. It was a fine paper, and I understand he has a volume forthcoming on the Psalms he is editing that will contain a series of essays. I look forward to that (perhaps if Dr. Jacobson is reading this he can respond and clarify the project a bit?).
I left the session early and headed to Cafe Giovanni for the bibliobloggers dinner. I was only there for a short time, because at 6:30 I had dinner with other Baylor OT folk lined up, but more importantly, with Bill Bellinger, my dissertation advisor. So I was only at the blogging dinner for about 20 minutes. I had hoped to speak with some in more depth, but there’s always next year. I chatted with Mike Whitenton and Rob Kashow at first, then Bryan Bibb and Brooke Lester. It was great also to meet Claude Mariottini, Ken Brown, and a few others I trust I am forgetting (mea culpa!). Again it was good to talk with Jim West briefly; he walked past me and I dared him to call me a “git” or a “dilletante.” He just laughed sheepishly (yes, sheepishly) and moved on.
The dinner with Bellinger and other Baylor folk OT folk was a good time. We went a ways from the conference hotel to a place called Mulattes. We enjoyed good company, some Zydeco music, and watching people dance. It was a bit loud, though, with the band, so we had to yell to speak to one another. Between there, the trip to NO and the general amount of talking I did at the conference, my voice is still recuping.