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.