I arrived in Atlanta Monday night, just in time for the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. Thanks to my LCC colleagues, Tom and Joy Boone, my friend Ben and I have free lodging and use of a vehicle.
On Tuesday afternoon, I presented my paper, “According to Which ‘Law of Moses’? Cult Centralization in Samuel and Chronicles.” It was rather a short paper for ETS, so there was plenty of time for discussion. I was somewhat apprehensive going into the presentation, unsure of how some of my presuppositions about authorship would play at ETS. But the paper was received graciously, even by a few who I could tell disagree with me. I was particularly pleased to receive positive feedback from one very well-known scholar in Old Testament, who asked for a copy of the paper. (A note to well-known scholars: One of the nicest things you can do for a grad student or a young PhD is to ask for a copy of his/her paper, even if you’re not sure you’ll read it again. You’ll just make that presenters week–maybe month.)
My second paper was given in the first slot on Wednesday morning: “‘Final Authoritative Edition’ versus ‘Original Autographs’: Do Protestants Defend the Masoretic Text with ‘Catholic’ Arguments?” Again, I wasn’t sure how this one would play at ETS. But folks seemed to be really tracking with the argument. I presented a problem for which I didn’t really have a solution, so I was pleased that others suggested some ways forward for either me or someone else to work on. I guess that’s what conferences are for.
I told some friends last night that every time I attend ETS meetings I end up repenting afterward for (arrogantly) pigeonholing the Society and its members in my mind. It’s not easy identifying as an evangelical, let alone an inerrantist, in the wider world of biblical scholarship. I have at times been tempted to leave my ETS membership off of my CV. But ETS is a diverse place with many different views and approaches within a broadly conservative framework. There are niches that are fundamentalist, but there are also research groups and individuals who are doing very creative work that tries to take seriously the best of critical scholarship while also remaining true to the faith once-delivered to the saints. At the end of the day, this is my tribe, and I need to extend to them the grace that they have always extended to me as family.
There’s one more day of ETS, and then IBR tomorrow and SBL Saturday through Monday. Right now, I should be grading my Eastern students’ papers…