My paper was slotted in the coveted 9 am slot on Tuesday morning. It was delivered in the “Bible Translation” section, and was entitled “A Trickster Oracle in Gen 25:23: Reading Jacob and Esau between Beten and Bethel” (abstract HERE). This was my second year in a row presenting at the national meeting, and my third paper at the national meeting (I did two last year, one in the Book of Psalms section and one in the Matthew section). Upon arriving at the session, the other presents and I were informed we would have 25 minutes TOTAL, not 25 to read and then 5 for Q & A, so if we wanted questions we had to stop reading at 20 minutes. Needless to say I had already chopped my paper down from about 35 pages to 12, and time was an issue, so I didn’t cut any further; my reading came in just at 25 minutes.
Given the time and day, I fully expected to have maybe a handful of folk present. I was more than pleased, however, to have a room of about 35 people, including my Baylor colleague Roy Garton, former professor Richard Swanson from my undergrad Augustana College, my professor and dissertation advisor Bill Bellinger, and fellow bloggers Joseph Kelly and Daniel (btw, I’m still waiting for them to blog their thoughts on my paper–wink!).
Typically when I have read papers in the past, nerves creep up. This is to be expected, perhaps. It was wonderful, though, this time, to have no nerves at all. My throat didn’t go dry, I read at a good, audible pace, and most importantly, I was relaxed . . . throughout. Even my buddy Roy and Dr. Bellinger noted as much. I attribute that confidence to teaching.
Despite not having time for questions (although I did have some discussions during the break with people), the paper was very well received. Many in the audience were clearly in agreement or pleased throughout, as regular head-nodding and “mmm hmmm’s” became visible and audible. At the end of my paper, as I sat down, I was greeted by a thumbs up from Dr. Swanson, and several comments by people sitting near me (we all sat in the audience, per the convener’s request) that they “really enjoyed your paper” and it was “interesting” or “very good” or “well done.” Given this is a vital component of my dissertation, I am pleased for the encouraging feedback.
The rest of the session was diverse and intriguing, and I especially found the paper about infinitive absolutes in Hebrew to be intriguing (how geeky does that sound of me?). As the session ended I talked with a few in the audience, briefly, but had to run to the hotel for my colleagues who were waiting for me . . . for a 10 hour drive back to Waco.