For the past few years I’ve been attending the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Society of Biblical Literature. These are huge conferences (about 2,000 and 10,000 theologians respectively) where I have the chance to catch up with what’s happening in the world of academia and also present my own research. This year I presented a paper on my interpretation of the Jacob narrative, explaining why I think he never ‘let go and let God.’
Annual Theological Conferences
Even though it’s quite an investment of time and finances to get to these conferences, I’ve found them to be very beneficial for ministry. It was through these conferences, for example, that I received an invitation to talk on the plot of Genesis at a seminary in Denmark. At this year’s conference I was invited to give a paper next year at a special session devoted to critical issues in the Pentateuch. My paper will give evidence for the coherence between the creation accounts in Gen 1 and 2.
By attending these conferences I’ve seen the influence of my research expand to broader audiences, which in turn helps build influence here in Slovakia. It also helps with the viability of our seminary (accreditation and financing).
The Jacob Paper
Every year I try to present a paper on research that I’m currently doing. This year I presented a paper entitled, “Evidence that Jacob Never Relinquishes Reliance on His Own Contrivances in the Isaac Toledot.”
Jacob is an enigmatic character in the book of Genesis. Unlike other main figures like Noah or Abraham or Joseph, he never really displays clear signs of righteousness or reliance on God. A lot of people think he repents of his conniving and self-reliance when he wrestles with the angel at the Jabbok in Gen 32. But does he really? The text seems to be more ambiguous.
Figuring out whether or not Jacob ever gave up reliance on his own conniving is more important than just understanding Jacob and his motivations. Jacob plays a key role in Genesis precisely because we can’t figure him out. He helps build the tension in the book and set us up for the book’s climactic conclusion in the Joseph narrative.