For the fifth year in a row I attended the annual conferences of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Society for Biblical Literature. These are professional conferences where theologians present research they are currently working on. With more than 10,000 theologians attending from all over the world, it’s a good opportunity to get feedback before (or after) publishing an article or book. This year I presented one paper and organized a group on the Pentateuch.
This Year in San Diego
The conference rotates between different locations. Last year was Denver and before that Providence, RI. This year we enjoyed the not exactly sunny weather in San Diego, CA at this hotel (above) on the Pacific.
First Invited Paper
During the conferences there are hundreds of different sessions on everything from the the book of Genesis to Theological Anthropology. Normally, I have proposed to read a paper but this year I was invited to read for the session on Old Testament Narrative Literature at the conference for the Evangelical Theological Society. The theme for this year’s group was interacting with source criticism. Source criticism questions whether the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) could really have been written by one author. There were three papers presented during the session and I read the paper on the coherence of the two creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2.
According to source critics, Genesis 1 and 2 could not have been written by the same author because they are two different and incompatible accounts of creation. For example one theologian believes that in Gen 1 water is hostile to creation while in Gen 2 water aids creation. Of course there are lots of solutions to this problem but I take a little different tack by suggesting the tension between the two chapters is intentional. Interested? You can download and read the paper here. Or listen to it using the player below.
The Pentateuch Group at IBR
Right after the Evangelical Theological Society’s conference finishes, the much bigger conference for the Society of Biblical Literature begins. Within the SBL there’s another evangelical group called the Institute for Biblical Research. A friend of mine I have organized a group on the Pentateuch for the IBR. This year and next year we are also focusing on source criticism. This year’s session was a great start and next year we expect to be even better. Source critics have decided that the Pentateuch should be dated to the Persian period (6th to 4th centuries BC) instead of the end of the second millennium BC. Next year Sandra Richter will be presenting a paper on the economics implicit in Deuteronomy which indicate that it’s actually quite difficult to date the Pentateuch as late as the Persian period.
For some reason my grandma would always say to me, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Maybe she thought all I do is work all the time, I don’t know. Anyway, I don’t. One of the highlights of the trip for these conferences every year is getting together with this wonderful group of people–former classmates and professors at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
I’ve found that attending these conferences is an important part of my ministry to the church and especially the church in Slovakia. It’s important that Slovaks have a say in what’s going on in the world of theology and so I’m glad that this year there were three of us from Slovakia who were able to attend the conference. On the left you see Peter Malik who is my new officemate and a huge (future) addition to our faculty at the seminary. In the middle is Juraj Institoris who is currently working on his PhD on Matthew’s use of the Old Testament. Juraj has also just moved back to Banská Bystrica to join the staff at our church.
It’s great to have these two great guys and their families join us in Banská Bystrica.