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San Francisco

Sunday highlights at the 2011 Society of Biblical Literature conference:

1. The inaugural University of Otago reception. The club was pumping, standing shoulder to shoulder with various friends, associates, current and former students and faculty, and various party-crashers. It went off.

2. The Scottish reception, with my brony Ibs and my pony princess Karen. Gatekeeper Hurtado gave a rousing speech.

3. The Brite Divinity School reception, with my brony Ibs and my pony princess Karen.

4. The Union reception, with my brony Ibs and my pony princess Karen, and Glory from New Joisey and Sarah who  just earned a PhD putting the Dalits into the Trinity.

5. Earlier on in the day, I spotted James Charlesworth’s new book on snakes at the Yale book exhibit, inspired in part by a mystical experience he had with a snake when he was only 8 years old. According to one informative chapter, snakes have 38 virtually unique features. Yes, 38. The lesson? Physicality undergirds symbology.

6. James Crossley’s paper in the outstanding section on rhetorics of nationalism in the New Testament was a great lesson on how ideology can operate in scholarship even if scholars do not personally hold to it. His primary example was Bruce Malina, who remains a staunch defender of Zionism, despite once sending out an email to 88 recipients which contained a spoof about holocaust denial.

7. That whole section was really good – excellent contributions from Neil Elliot, Suzanne Marchand, Jacques Berlinerblau, and David Sánchez

8. Kurt Noll gave a great paper in the Deuteronomistic History section on Samuel. In contradistinction to other presenters, he didn’t think there was much very deuteronomistic about Samuel. In fact, for Noll, the god of Samuel was more like the god of the poets than the god of the city or the god of theologians or philosophers. “This god was not intended to be taken seriously.” Samuel only become linked to the so-called deuteronomistic history “as a result of unanticipated reader responses”.

9. I met Michael Bird at the Scottish reception, and we had a very brief chat. Bloody Australians will do anything for a free beer, even pretend to be Scottish.

10. Sierra Nevada beer. Crisp, very good.