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2011 Sbl Meeting In San Francisco


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#1 maklelan

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 07:32 PM

The preliminary program book for the 2011 annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature is available online now. I'm presenting two papers again this year. Following are my abstracts:

Psalm 82 in the Modern Latter-day Saint Tradition

Within the Christian and Jewish traditions, Psalm 82 has long been read as a metaphoric judgment against negligent human beings. This dates back to traditions current at the turn of the Era that primarily read the text as a reference to the Israelites at Sinai. Similar readings were common within the academy until the early 20th century, when scholars began to uncover a better context for understanding the psalm’s themes, namely the divine council imagery found in Syro-Palestinian and Mesopotamian literature. Most scholars today view the text as a judgment against the gods of the nations. The Latter-day Saint interpretation of Psalm 82 has long aligned with the traditional reading, although Latter-day Saints recognize a genetic link between humanity and divinity that removes the theological necessity of reading the references to “gods” as metaphorical. The most comprehensive expression of the contemporary Latter-day Saint reading of Psalm 82 is found in Daniel Peterson’s 2000 article, “‘Ye are Gods’: Psalm 82 and John 10 as Witnesses to the Divine Nature of Humankind.” As with most conservative Christians, Peterson appeals to Jesus’ use of the psalm in John 10:34–36 as a key to harmonizing the two texts. He departs from the conservative Christian position in proposing that the division between the human and the divine was in both texts rather porous. After discussing the Latter-day Saint position, this paper will examine both Psalm 82 and John 10:34–36, but not with an eye specifically to reconciling the two. Rather it will highlight those places where the texts differ. It will suggest that Psalm 82 represents a condemnation of the gods of the nations, and that the tradition underlying John 10’s reading of the psalm is an innovation of the Greco-Roman period which reinterpreted the psalm in light of recently developed ideas of divinity. This will illuminate the role of developing monotheism in shaping early Jewish and Christian themes of humanity’s participation in the divine. The paper will conclude with implications for Latter-day Saint exegesis of the Bible.


Psalm 82 within the Psalms of Asaph

The unique mythological themes in Psalm 82 have long compelled scholars to consider it apart from the other psalms of the Asaph collection. The interaction with other divine beings, the implied distinction between Yahweh and Elyon, and the affinities with the northern tradition suggest a very early date of composition. This sets the psalm apart from the exilic dating of Pss 74 and 79, which explicitly mention the destruction of the temple. On the other hand, Psalm 82 aligns well with the theme of the collection, and the language of the psalm closely parallels that of the other Asaphite psalms. Building on the work of Erich Zenger, this paper will show that the composition of Psalm 82 is closely tied to the thematic progression of the Psalms of Asaph. In fact, it will be argued that Psalm 82 marks the turning point in the collection’s main narrative arc. Close affinities with the God-laments and petitions of Pss 74, 76, and 79 will also be highlighted. These observations have significant implications for dating the composition of the psalm, and it will be concluded that while the psalm draws upon archaic themes (as do other Asaphite psalms), its composition should be dated to the 6th century BCE.


Several papers should be of interest to Latter-day Saints. First, there is a section devoted to Latter-day Saints and the Bible:

Latter-day Saints and the Bible
11/19/2011
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Room TBD - Hotel TBD

Gaye Strathearn, Brigham Young University, Presiding

Cory D. Crawford, Ohio University
Out of Eden and Into Nod: The Banishment of Adam and Cain in the Bible and LDS Scripture (25 min)

Daniel O. McClellan, Trinity Western University
Psalm 82 in the Modern Latter-day Saint Tradition (25 min)

Donald W. Parry, Brigham Young University
“Amphibologia in the Song of the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53)” (25 min)

S. Kent Brown, Brigham Young University
Families Hidden in Luke's Gospel (25 min)

Lynne Hilton Wilson, LDS Stanford Institute
Confusing Zacharias (25 min)

John W. Welch, Brigham Young University and Justin Barney, Brigham Young University
Gospel Endings and the 40-day Literature (25 min)


Several others connected with the church:

David Geilman, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Santa Biblia Reina-Valera 2009: A Brief Project Review (30 min)

Tod R Harris, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Nicholas of Cusa's Cribratio Alkorani (Scrutiny of the Qur'an): A 15th Century Model for a 21st Century Approach to the Qur'an (25 min)

Erik Yingling, Brigham Young University
“Gather Unto Me, O My Holy Members”: A Papyrological Restoration of the Gospel of the Savior’s Introduction to the Amen Responsory. (20 min)

Lincoln H. Blumell, Brigham Young University and Thomas Wayment, Brigham Young University
Some Unpublished Coptic New Testament Fragments at Brigham Young University (30 min)

Kristian Heal, Brigham Young University
The Growth of Syriac Manuscript Collections in Europe and North America (30 min)

Daniel Belnap, Brigham Young University
If The Lord Delight In Us: Divine Reflexivity in the Hebrew Bible (25 min)

Taylor Halverson, Brigham Young University
Teaching the Bible with Technology

Dana M. Pike, Brigham Young University
“You clothed me with skin and flesh”: Analyzing Metaphor in Job 10:11 (25 min)

Taylor Halverson, Brigham Young University
Using Electronic Response Systems to Enhance Close Reading Skills (20 min)

Kristian S. Heal, Brigham Young University
The Syriac Electronic Corpus and the Study of Syriac Literature (30 min)

Kristian S. Heal, Brigham Young University
The Syriac Electronic Corpus and the Future of Syriac Lexicography (30 min)

If anyone knows of anyone else presenting a paper of general relevance to Latter-day Saints, feel free to post the info here.
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#2 kolipoki09

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:09 PM

This is ironic, considering all of Mak's self proclaimed intellectual and spiritual "superiors" have noted that Latter-day Saints cannot be Bible scholars, or scholars of Hebrew, and if they are, they're only "part-time" Mormons. Which brings me to my only question - how many CARM posters will be presenting at the SBL meeting?


Stay on-topic. Posts that are not relevant to the pinned topic have been deleted.

Edited by Minos, 22 June 2011 - 10:45 PM.

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#3 Mike Reed

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 10:53 PM

Wow. Two presentations. Congrats Mak! I almost certainly will be there, however, I won't be presenting. I have a bad habit of missing the deadline to submit paper proposals to AAR/SBL. Oh well, maybe next year. I look forward to meeting you!
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#4 DavidC

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 11:25 PM

I'm not familiar with what happens to SBL papers. How and when might I be able to read the paper on Psalms 82?
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#5 maklelan

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 10:09 AM

Wow. Two presentations. Congrats Mak! I almost certainly will be there, however, I won't be presenting. I have a bad habit of missing the deadline to submit paper proposals to AAR/SBL. Oh well, maybe next year. I look forward to meeting you!


Thanks Mike. I presented two papers in Atlanta on the same day, too. It was pretty stressful, but since they're both on Saturday I get them out of the way and can enjoy the rest of the week. We'll definitely have to get together for lunch or dinner.

I have a bad habit of not paying attention to deadlines and instructions, too. I presented a paper at our regional SBL last month and was furious when they announced at the reception that there was no award for best graduate student paper. Then I found out that you had to submit the paper separately to the contest, and they didn't receive a single submission. They had two undergraduate awards because they had two submissions. All I had to do was submit the paper. I could have used the money, too.
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#6 maklelan

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 10:12 AM

I'm not familiar with what happens to SBL papers. How and when might I be able to read the paper on Psalms 82?


I am working on the papers right now (ok, working on trying to start the papers), and I usually post my SBL papers on my blog shortly before the conference (so people can print them out and read along during the presentation if they want).
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#7 Joseph Antley

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 02:31 PM

I will be attending this year! Should be a fun time.

Also note that the Regional SBL conference will be at BYU in the spring!
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#8 maklelan

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 03:45 PM

I will be attending this year! Should be a fun time.

Also note that the Regional SBL conference will be at BYU in the spring!


Will it? I was wondering when it would come around to BYU again. The last time it was there was probably the only time the f-word was uttered from the podium in the JSB auditorium.
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#9 Ron Beron

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 10:14 PM

I am looking forward to attending this year as long as I can get the shekels together for the extended stay. Where is the venue?
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#10 maklelan

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 10:31 PM

I am looking forward to attending this year as long as I can get the shekels together for the extended stay. Where is the venue?


There's an information page here, and the venue is Moscone West as well as several of the bigger hotels within walking distance, like the Hilton and the Marriott Marquis. The full program book with hotel information and so on is always late, but should be out within a month or so.
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#11 maklelan

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 11:52 AM

Here are more SBL papers from friends of mine from BYU who each completed Oxford's master of studies in Jewish studies before me:

Avram R. Shannon, The Ohio State University
So Let It Be Written, So Let It Be Done: Performative Speech in Ancient Egypt and the Hebrew Bible

Psalm 110:3 records a speech on the part of the God of Israel, where he “swears and it will not be annulled” that the king is a priest forever. In this and other places, Yahweh uses performative speech, so that by the very process of speaking, he brings about that which he speaks about. This is one of the ways in which the divine power of the God of Israel is conceptualized in the writings of the Hebrew Bible, as in the first chapter of Genesis, where God speaks and creation comes about. Performative speech is also an important part of certain Egyptian conceptions of divine and royal power, especially that of Ptah, as expressed in such texts as the Memphite Theology (which was inscribed on the Shabako Stone about the same time as much of the Hebrew Bible was composed). Although the Egyptians and the Israelites differed in a number of ways on the characteristics of the divine, performative speech was a concept which was shared by them. This paper will examine performative speech in the Hebrew Bible and Egyptian sacred literature in order to explore what the ideological conceptions behind the use of performative speech by the divine meant in ancient Israel and ancient Egypt. Similarities and dissimilarities will be shown in order to illustrate that although the two cultures often had very disparate ideas about the divine realm, performative speech was part of the general religious and cultural milieu of the ancient Mediterranean, of which both cultures took part. In particular, the persistence of the written record in perpetuating performative speech-acts in both Egyptian and Israelite conceptions will be illustrated.


Avram R. Shannon, The Ohio State University
More Subtle Than Any Other Beast: The Affordances of the Serpent in the Hebrew Bible.

Many cultures in the ancient Near East framed the myth of creation in terms of a battle between a god, representing the forces of order against some being representing chaos, often a serpent or dragon. Hermann Gunkel identified this as a “Chaoskampf,” and it is an important part of the mythic fabric of the ancient Near East. The Hebrew Bible also preserves traditions in which Yahweh fights against a dragon and subdues the sea (Isa 51:9-10, Job 41, Ps 74:13-14, etc). This is not however, the primary form which the creation takes in Genesis 1-3. There, Yahweh simply speaks and creation happens. Even in the Genesis account, however, a serpent works his way into the story, a serpent who attempts to overthrow the order established by God. Drawing on the mythological work done in Classics by Detienne, and especially on the idea of “affordances”—the way that humans respond to animal characteristics to create literature and myth—suggested by Maurizio Bettini’s work on the weasel, this paper will examine the character of the serpent in the ancient Near East, including the connection between the seven-headed chaos serpent of Job and at Ugarit, and the subtle serpent of Genesis. It will show that although the creation account in Genesis is perhaps more understated in its mythological use of a serpent as the enemy of chaos, it is still using the “affordances” characteristic of the serpent to make its own point and to put forward its particular ideological and theological ideas.


Matthew J. Grey, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Preservation of Priestly Lineage after 70 C.E.

For over a century, most scholars have assumed that the presence, activities, and prestige of Jewish priests declined sharply following the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 C.E. As a result of this assumption, little attention has been given to the subsequent fate and role of priests in Jewish society. However, an increasing amount of evidence indicates that priests did not disappear after 70, but continued to contribute in significant ways to Jewish social dynamics throughout Late Antiquity. Several sources suggest that priests continued to function in non-cultic capacities such as serving as judges, teachers, recipients of tithes, and participants in liturgical synagogue worship. Because Jewish priesthood was determined by lineage, there must have been a way for the community to recognize which individuals and families could be identified as priests so that they could perform these responsibilities. In this paper I will examine evidence for the preservation of priestly lineage after 70 C.E. Literary and epigraphic evidence indicates that some priestly families – both within and outside of rabbinic circles – retained their identities as priests for centuries after the First Revolt. It is also apparent that priestly lineage retained a high degree of prestige in the Jewish community. This is made clear by individuals claiming priestly titles in the writings of Josephus, early rabbinic literature, numismatic legends, and inscriptions found in funerary and synagogal contexts. There is even evidence that some priestly families after 70 continued to identify themselves as descendants of the twenty-four priestly courses. This raises the issue of how priestly lineage was preserved and verified during this period. Unfortunately, we are not able to reconstruct these logistics fully, but hints in the extant sources allow us to make some preliminary observations. For example, Josephus (writing in the late 90s) claims that priestly marriages after 70 still required genealogical documents attesting to the bride’s lineage in order to ensure the “purity” of the priestly line. Interest in priestly lineage continued in subsequent centuries. This is shown by conflicts between some priests and rabbis over the regulation of priestly marriages and the legal status of their offspring. Patriarchs and rabbinic sages attempted to assert their authority over these matters in the third and fourth centuries, but there is evidence that not all priestly families adhered to their guidelines. Although different circles disagreed on the parameters of priestly lineage, it is clear that the issue continued to be an important part of Jewish dynamics long after the loss of the Jerusalem temple.


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#12 maklelan

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 12:47 PM

Here's another paper from a BYU grad:

Jacob Rennaker, Claremont Graduate University
Up, Up, or Away? Exploring Vertical and Horizontal Conceptualizations of Sacred Space in Ezekiel 40-42 (25 min)

Ezekiel 40-42 describes a rather unique temple that stands in the midst of the land of Israel. Even within this quintessential sacred space, there are different degrees of holiness as one progresses through the temple. While almost all recognize the importance of graded holiness in Ezekiel’s temple vision, there is no consensus among scholars regarding the spatial paradigms used to express this sacred space within the temple compound. This paper will examine both the vertical and horizontal literary representations of graded holiness in Ezekiel’s description of the temple compound. This examination will take into account both the suggestions made by scholars regarding these themes, as well as other heretofore unrecognized aspects of the text in order to determine the legitimacy of these two competing views. The discussion of vertical sacred space will focus on the spatial language used by the author. In addition, this paper will take into account the author’s use of mythical and cosmological imagery that is evocative of Mesopotamian conceptualizations of a vertically-aligned temple and cosmos. In the discussion of horizontal sacred space, I will give primary attention to narratives within the Hebrew Bible and Priestly imagery, especially as they resonate with depictions of Eden and a closely associated horizontal emphasis reflected in the layout of the sanctuary (with the holy of holies at the westernmost position within that building). Following this discussion, I will look to a unique piece of Neo-Assyrian iconography in order to reconcile these two opposing scholarly conceptualizations of sacred space within Ezekiel’s expansive temple vision, allowing the significance of both views to be held by both ancient and modern audiences.


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#13 volgadon

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 07:40 AM

Here's another paper from a BYU grad:


I'm pretty sure I showed this guy around the Galilee a few years ago. If he is the one I'm thinking of then he wrote a very interesting thesis about varying gradations of sacred vertical space.
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#14 The King's Servant

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 11:34 AM

Aren't many of the SBL papers published in the Journal of Higher Criticism?
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#15 maklelan

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 01:24 PM

Aren't many of the SBL papers published in the Journal of Higher Criticism?


There's no affiliation of which I'm aware,
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#16 volgadon

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 07:54 PM

Aren't many of the SBL papers published in the Journal of Higher Criticism?


Those that don't make the cut for the Journal of Obscurantist Fundamentalism.
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#17 Zakuska

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 01:09 PM

I'm pretty sure I showed this guy around the Galilee a few years ago. If he is the one I'm thinking of then he wrote a very interesting thesis about varying gradations of sacred vertical space.

Love it! I think you should copy right trade mark and register it.

Edit: Congrats Mak.

Edited by Zakuska, 02 August 2011 - 01:10 PM.

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