My Very Tentative SBL Schedule

Being my first experience at an SBL annual meeting, I want to get the most out the expense to attend. Having perused the program, here is my very tentative session schedule.

Saturday, Nov. 21

Annual Meeting Orientation, 8:15 AM to 9:00 AM

John’s Apocalypse and Cultural Contexts Ancient and Modern, 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM


Bible, Myth, and Myth Theory, 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM

John’s Apocalypse and Cultural Contexts Ancient and Modern, 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM


Pauline Epistles, 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Ancient Fiction and Early Christian and Jewish Narrative; Bible, Myth, and Myth Theory, 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Employment Workshops, 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM (will likely leave the aforementioned session early)

Sunday, Nov. 22

Rhetoric and the New Testament, 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM

Pauline Epistles, 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Monday, Nov. 23

Paul Within Judaism, 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM

I’m sure some things will change between now and November. I probably won’t stay for the entirety of each session, but only for the papers I’m interested in and probably some of the discussion times. Of course, I plan to wander the book hall, talk with folks concerning future employment, and attend various receptions and mingle. I’ll be leaving Monday afternoon so I can be back for work Tuesday.

Looking forward to the experience!

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Going to SBL

I had initially planned to attend this year’s SBL annual meeting, then decided to not to (for various reasons). However, I’ve decided (again!) to attend, so I’m wondering what suggestions you more experienced attenders might proffer as to navigate the logistics of an annual meeting? I’m not presenting, so I’ll have the luxury of choosing various sessions to attend. This is the one thing I’ve heard from others–plan which sessions to attend and only go to the ones that are of great interest! I’m also going to get a feel for the “job fair” element. I’m still a couple of years from finishing my PhD, but I want to see how the process works, meet folks, and chat with others who have been through the process.

Naturally, I would greatly like to meet many of you with whom I’ve interacted online, but have not met personally.

More pressing, however, is the need for accommodations. At this point, finding a place to stay could likely determine whether or not I can actually attend the meeting. So, do any of you need a roommate to share the cost of a hotel room? I’m sure the rooms downtown are outrageous, but I’ll stay if the daily cost is manageable. I’m not above staying out from downtown a bit provided transportation is not a hassle. I don’t want to book a flight until a room has been settled, so the sooner the better!

You’ll be happy to know I would be a great roommate. I don’t snore, I practice good hygiene, and promise not to stand at your bedside draped in a Snuggie and stare at you while you sleep. I’ll leave that to Joel Watts.

If you can help a brother out, let me know ASAP!

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BibleWorks 10

Like many of you, I’ve used Bible software for many years in numerous iterations–eSword, Bible Navigator, Libronix, Logos, Accordance, BibleWorks, et al. Each has their strengths and weaknesses and each one’s usefulness boils down to your purpose for using it and your personal preferences for an interface.

For me, I have preferred BibleWorks since I first began using it at version 7. I upgraded to version 8, but did not upgrade to version 9. When I found out I would be receiving a review copy of BW10, I was quite giddy. Well, it arrived in the mail yesterday and I am eager to install, customize, and use it! Since I didn’t upgrade to version 9, the jump from 8 to 10 should be quite noticeable.

11350457_10152778181276502_4666262690007985017_nOnce I’ve used it a while and have familiarized myself with the changes, I’ll post a review. Until then, happy researching!

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Several weeks ago, I submitted my last seminar paper. Since then, I’ve been working on my dissertation proposal and preparing/revising my study guides for comprehensive exams this fall.

Photo May 20, 10 39 58 AMIt’s overwhelming to think about taking these exams, even though they’re about five months away. I hate taking exams anyway, and the inherent importance of comps doesn’t help. The advice I’ve gotten along the way has been quite helpful and I’ll be poring over these for the next few months, so I feel I will do fine. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be weeping, gnashing of teeth, fits of rage, more hair loss, and bouts of delirium along the way!

But as I remind myself–I signed up for this!

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Music Monday

Things have been crazy of late, but the lull has returned as has afforded a few minutes to post, this time another Music Monday.

Most the of the must I listen to is intense–heavy guitars, thundering percussion, and harsh vocals. Today’s selection is also intense, but at the other end of the spectrum: Mumford & Sons’ Wilder Mind.

mumford-and-sons-wilder-mindThis album has likely already begun to divide M&S’ rabid fan base as it marks a departure from the soulful English folk that launched them to stardom in their native UK and the US. I like Sigh No More and love Babel, so I wasn’t sure what to think when I heard the first song from this album. There was no question it was good–this bunch is quite talented–but would a virtually folk-free album from M&S really hold up?

After numerous listens, I have come to love this album. While the folk instrumentation is all but gone on this album, the soul and heartfelt songwriting remains the heartbeat of M&S and it shines through on every track. You can almost hear banjos and and Mumford’s signature sing kick drum, but alas they are absent, replaced by electric guitars and full drum kit. Marcus Mumord still plays is acoustic as he always had, but I reiterate–what made M&S truly unique is still present, it’s only presented through different instruments.

While I like every song on this album, the standouts are Tompkins Square Park (which has a modern Don Henley Boys of Summer vibe [a song I loved as a kid]), Believe, The Wolf, Monster, Only Love, and Hot Gates.

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Giveaway – Studies in the Pauline Epistles: Essays in Honor of Douglas J. Moo

Originally posted on :

A few months ago I reviewed the Festschrift that was presented to Douglas Moo at last year’s ETS annual meeting (Part 1; Part 2; Part 3). This past weekend a friend gave me a goodie bag which contained a copy of this book, so I’m going to give it to one of you :) Douglas Moo needs no introduction, and it’s obvious that this book is a treat for all Pauline studies nerds, especially those who appreciate the contributions of Moo.

Since I don’t have a self-hosted site I can’t use one of those fancy giveaway widgets, so you’ll have to do a bit more work for entries. Here are the various ways you can enter (comment separately for each to gain more entries):

  1. Comment on one way Moo’s scholarship has impacted you
  2. Comment on one issue in Pauline studies that fascinates you
  3. Follow me on Twitter

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John’s Use of Gematria

One among many issues in the book of Revelation concerns the mark of the beast–666. While I have my own interpretation/understanding of what that means, it’s been the subject of intense debate over the years. A plethora of candidates have been offered–Muhammad, the Roman Catholic Church, the papacy, various individual popes, Emperor Frederick II Hohenstaufen, Martin Luther, Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon III, Mussolini, Gorbachev, Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan (each of his three names had six letters—666), Anwar Sadat, Muammar Gadhafi, Saddam Hussein, and I’m sure Obama has been added to this list by some.[1]

One common suggestion for figuring out who the beast is (many scholars point to Nero) is the use of gematria, the practice of assigning numerical value to letters in cultures thad had no distinct numerals (used by both Jewish and Greco-Roman writers). Much of the discussion about this circles around the transliteration of Nero’s name in Greek into Hebrew and, via gematria, you come out with a numerical value of 666.

I was recently involved in a discussion of this and it was suggested that one reason it was unlikely to be Nero is the fact that one would have to transliterate the name (and title) of Nero into Hebrew. My question is this–why would this evidence be considered to weigh against identifying Nero as the beast? It is well known and quite obvious that John assumes his audiences’ familiarity with the OT, so why should we not assume they would have been familiar enough with Hebrew to know what John meant? He has cloaked his rebuke of the empire in the imagery of the OT (and be extension the ANE; he also uses imagery familiar to the Greco-Roman world), so why would this be any exception?

Just a thought–what say ye?

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[1] Mitchell G. Reddish, Revelation, Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2001), 268.