Attending the Society of Biblical Literature in San Diego isn’t the worst of gigs, but it was surely no vacation. A brief rundown and then some thoughts on the books.
My roommates this year, Boaz Johnson and Kermit Zarley, showed some special abilities in snoring though nothing like two years ago when Kermit did everything he could to imitate the loons and Boaz a perfect timing with Kermit. I’ll not give details, but I wish had the presence of mind to tape the sounds of darkness.
We arrived Friday about 11am, made our way to the Manchester Grand Hyatt, met up with Kermit Zarley, and then took a cab up to the Evangelical Theological Society meeting — as we pulled in to the hotel Kermit said, “Hey, that’s where we used to play the San Diego Open.” We had lunch with my former students … Matt Williams, Jon Lunde, Mark Rapinchuk and Mark’s son and a colleague from College of the Ozarks. I can’t say enough about these professors (Matt and Jon are at Biola) and it’s always an honor to be with them — even if I was distracted by my paper. And saying “paper” is an understatement: we had a 3.5 hour session devoted to my book, Jesus and His Death, with responses from Mark Strauss, Darrell Bock, and Nick Perrin. It was a good session for “both sides” and I’m glad Les Keylock, another former student, has organized annually such inspiring sessions.
Saturday morning I did an emerging event with Tony Jones and Diana Butler Bass … and I’ll avoid a blow-by-blow account, but I thought it was a useful, informative session with both Tony and Diana making some excellent points. (I wore my blue jeans.) Thanks to Keith Matthews and Don Thorsen for organizing this event — they are both from Azusa Pacific. It was great to meet Christine Scheller at the event … she regularly weighs in on this blog as “cas.” I find she has an extensive report about her meetings.
Coffee and breakfasts and lunches and dinners with friends and colleagues and young scholars from all over the world — so many ideas in the air and such a good time to be in the academy.
Here’s my rating this year for the top five publishers and what they had to offer:
1. Eerdmans gets my top rating: academic books galore, some new reference books, and some great new titles.
2. Fortress has come back from some slow years: a good combination of academic reference works and suggestive titles in biblical and theological studies.
3. Baylor University Press: Carey Newman gave this publisher a new start about four year ago and the energy, creativity, and depth of scholarship — across the spectrum — convinces me to move Baylor into the top three this year. I remember when Carey had nothing but a table and some sheets of paper advertising that they were back in action.
Tie for 4th:
Both Abingdon and Westminster John Knox are tied here — both had solid offerings in both theology and biblical studies.