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Impressions of ETS, IBR, and SBL 2010 by Tremper Longman III

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Longman ETS/IBR/SBL meetings are among the most interesting, stimulating, tiring, and productive times of the year for me.  Attendees have different strategies for making the most of the sessions.  My own philosophy is that if a paper is good it will get published, so I personally don’t rush from paper to paper.  I also don’t give papers unless invited to do so (the other option is to submit paper topics).  My time is usually very busy meeting with editorial committees, publishers, and board meetings.

This year I moderated the ETS session on Wisdom Literature with excellent papers by Ted Hildebrandt, Sun Lyu, Dennis Magary, and Bruce Waltke.  All the papers were good, but the one by Dennis on “Can a Mortal be Righteous before God? The Rhetoric of Theological Presumption in the Book of Job” was particularly timely for me as I am finishing up a commentary on Job in the next couple of months.

The IBR meeting is my favorite part of the weekend since it brings together like-minded and productive biblical scholars.  The Friday night lecture, attended by about one thousand people, by Tom Wright was excellent on the Kingdom and the Cross and Mike Bird’s response was a masterful combination of insight and humor.  Most readers of this blog will now Wright’s published work, but if you aren’t familiar with Bird’s work, I recommend it highly!  I moderated the Saturday morning panel on atonement, so I had a bird’s eye view for the stimulating discussion between Ben Witherington and Jay Sklar and their excellent respondents Mark Boda and Jintae Kim.  Telford Work provided the insights of a theologian to which the biblical scholars responded.

SBL is always a mad house of activity.  This year I was invited to be a panelist on the subject of the theology of sexuality with two feminist scholars (Susan Ackermann and Cheryl Exum) and Ken Stone, the author of Queer Commentary and the Hebrew Bible.  Made for an interesting combination. The most pointed discussion was over the metaphors of abuse in Song of Songs 5 and Ezekiel 16 and 23.

ETS 10_Booth 
(Photo of the Zondervan Academic booth at ETS taken by a marketer masquerading as a photographer.)

It is hard to give an impression of these important meetings.  If you ever get the chance to attend, though, I recommend it.

Tremper Longman III (PhD, Yale University) is the Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies and the chair of the Religious Studies department at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, where he lives with his wife, Alice. He is the Old Testament editor for the revised Expositor's Bible Commentary and has authored many articles and books on the Psalms and other Old Testament books.

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