My Afternoon with Hebrew Bible Scholar James Kugel

This post is actually quite a bit delayed, as this story actually occurred about a month ago.  Either way, it is (to me) a funny little anecdote and one of those stories I will always have about my time with a particular scholar (for another from SBL involving Norman Gottwald, see HERE).

James Kugel, a professor of Hebrew Bible at Bar Ilan in Israel and a seminal scholar who has authored a number of books, gave a lecture at Baylor last month.  I was one of the folk who joined him for lunch.  After lunch, one of my Baylor profs asked of my plans for the afternoon, to which I replied I was open.  He then asked if I would be willing to take Dr. Kugel and show him around Waco, to which I replied I would be glad to do so.  Here’s where the comedy comes in: the place Dr. Kugel had selected to visit was . . . . the Dr. Pepper Museum in downtown Waco. 

When I went to meet him and drive him there, I asked him if this was his choice, to which he replied it was the only reason he agreed to come to Baylor (let me say, Dr. Kugel has a wonderful sense of humor).  Upon arriving at the museum and entering the opening exhibit, the first words out of Dr. Kugel’s mouth were, “yep, this is exactly what I expected.”  It was an enjoyable afternoon that involved talking more about the Jacob cycle than was dedicated to admiring all the Dr. Pepper memorobilia, and I count myself fortunate to have had this one-on-one time with a scholar as esteemed as James Kugel.  We must have been quite the sight: both of us in suit coats, dress shirts, and him with a kipa on, walking around the Dr. Pepper Museum (which, admittedly, is about as exciting as it sounds).  I was glad, however, that Dr. Kugel purchased a shirt to give to his daughter.  When I went to drop him off at the bed and breakfast he was staying at, I made certain to remind him not to forget his t-shirt so his daughter wouldn’t be upset.  He quickly replied, “oh, she wouldn’t be upset, but I would be!”

All in all it was a delightful afternoon of thoughtful and humorous conversation with a seminal scholar in the field.  I will always recall with fondness and joy the story of the day James Kugel and I visited the Dr. Pepper Museum.


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