Reports on the recent SBL, AAR, and ASOR annual meetings

Every year in the week or so before Thanksgiving, The Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), The American Academy of Religion (AAR), the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR, which I believe is planning to change its name), and Biblical Archaeology Review’s Bible Fest hold overlapping conferences in the same city. The largest by far is the joint meeting of SBL and AAR, which presents literally hundreds of panels and discussions over three and a half days. That conference also includes a massive book sellers hall, featuring most of the major publishers and many lesser ones who sell books on related subjects. I believe the joint attendance for SBL-AAR approaches 10,000 attendees. While SBL and AAR cover almost everything biblical or religious, ASOR is primarily concerned with archaeology. This year all the organizations gathered in Denver.

I attended the SBL events and enjoyed a number of stimulating sessions. My friend and colleague at BASNY, Peter Feinman, struggles to attend both ASOR and SBL. See his two reports on the handling of 10th century Israel here and here.

I particularly enjoyed the panel “Ideological criticism and the Book of Samuel,” which dealt with the problematic story of Samuel’s rejection of Saul, as Samuel appears to have done nothing wrong. The bible, and implicitly the panel, treats the story as God’s rejection of Samuel. But as I suggested during the Q and A, it is Samuel, not God, who rejects Saul, and it is simply a case of Samuel’s corrupt family being rejected by Israel and Saul being chosen by Israel as Samuel’s replacement.

The story is nothing more than a political conflict between the corrupt Shiloh Priesthood, rich on perks, and the Israelites, lacking justice from the corrupt Shiloh judges. Samuel’s alliance with David was just another Shiloh power grab. I suggested to the panel, that reading the story, one gets the sense that Samuel had been lurking behind the boulder and delaying his appearance so that when Saul could no longer safely wait any longer and had to conduct certain rituals, Samuel could jump out from behind the stone and accuse him of violating God’s law. That got a few smiles.

For a more detailed, down to the nitty-gritty, of the conflicts between Saul, Samuel, and David, you might want to read my King David versus Israel: How a Hebrew tyrant hated by Israel became q biblical hero

Prof. Davila links to and comments on my essay on the Gospel calendar problem.

Prof. James Davila, at links to my essay on Bible and Interpretation about “Roman Days, Jewish Nights and the Gospel Calendar Problem.” He also comments, “I didn’t think it was possible for me to feel more confused about the chronology of the Gospel Passion narratives. But after reading this I am.” Mission accomplished.

Joab and Abishai as Apologetic Tropes

Most biblical scholars familiar with the biblical accounts of David’s rise to the throne of Israel recognize that the text has been overlaid with an apologia defending David against charges that he murdered his way to the throne by killing off those who stood in his way. The most significant assassination charged to him was that he arranged for King Saul to be murdered.

I have an article coming up on the Bible and Interpretation site

I recently submitted an article to Bible and Interpretation titled “Roman Days, Jewish NIghts, and the Gospel Calendar Problem.” It should appear in the latter part of July and I’ll post a link when it is published. The article examines some of the chronological issues affecting the gospel narratives that arise from the fact that the authors of the Gospels used a Roman calendar day (sunrise to sunrise) to describe events unfolding according to the Jewish Calendar day (sunset to sunset.) It discusses the impact on such issues as when the Sabbath started and ended, on what days Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread occurred, and the so-called Day of Preparation.

Prof. James Tabor comments on “Proving Jesus’ Authority in Mark and John”

Prof. James Tabor, the former chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina (2004-2014) and currently Professor of ancient Judaism and early Christianity, had some nice things to say about my new book, Proving Jesus’ Authority in Mark and John: Overlooked evidence of a synoptic relationship. Not quite a review yet, as he hasn’t finished the book, he uses it as a springboard to discuss the issue of John’s relationship to Mark. The book encouraged him to begin a series of posts on “reading John and Mark side by side. You can read his follow-up here.


My latest book now available

My latest book, Proving Jesus’ Authority in Mark and John: Overlooked evidence of a synoptic relationship, is now available. The book offers a new theory of John’s composition techniques and his relationship to the other gospels. A picture of the book jacket and links to the book description, jacket blurbs, and a short excerpt are available in the sidebar. I want to thank Paul Anderson, Adam Winn, and Barrie Wilson for their generous book endorsements. This is an academic study and priced accordingly, so if you’re interested you might want to encourage your local library to buy a copy. Here is the book’s description.

In this innovative study of the Fourth Gospel, Greenberg introduces important new perspectives on synoptic problems and challenges many theories about the nature of John’s sources and composition practices. His analysis shows that the author of John knew a written version of Mark’s gospel, had strong theological objections to how Mark depicted the nature and story of Jesus and the gospel message, and composed his gospel as a theologically corrected rewrite of Mark, using the latter’s gospel as a narrative guideline for his own composition.

By focusing on several seemingly different stories in Mark and John that deal with issues relating to how Jesus proved his authority, Greenberg places each of the incidents in their narrative, sequential, and theological context, demonstrating that John knew Mark’s specific stories in the same sequential order that appeared in Mark, and that John’s stories represented theologically altered rewrites of the ones in Mark. The study examines the nature of John’s objections to Mark, what changes John would want to make to Mark, and the formulaic editorial techniques John used to transform Mark’s gospel into John’s gospel. Of particular interest, Greenberg shows how John transformed Mark’s stories about proof through exorcisms into Johannine stories about proof through words.