Baker Academic

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Less Serious Observations on the SBL Memory Session--Chris Keith

Since my last post dealt with the guts of the academic discussion in the recent SBL Memory and Historical Jesus session, I thought I'd make a couple less serious observations here.

The first observation is more of a question:  Are historical Jesus studies interesting again?  A number of people have commented that this session was their favorite one from this year, and a few have even said that it was their favorite ever.  This is interesting because it was not so long ago that historical Jesus studies seemed to be on their way out (or already out).  I thought this myself and even avoided the historical Jesus altogether when working on my PhD.  I've had some big names in the field tell me that they were altogether convinced that historical Jesus studies was dead.  It was during the writing of Jesus' Literacy: Scribal Culture and the Teacher from Galilee, however, that I first started to think some fresh discussions could occur and might be useful; that what was on the way out was business as usual but not the overall field.  In the very least, the session in Baltimore had good attendance and perhaps this indicates a renewed interest.

The second observation is that Zeb Crook by far wins the award for presentation.  He gave a master class on how to deliver a SBL paper.  It was funny, interesting, and thought provoking.  Reflecting on the session, I wonder why more people don't make their presentations interesting the way Zeb did.  Rafael, Paul, and I all settled for the standard read-your-paper-aloud bit and, though each of us had our moments of personality shining through, we all looked like dullards compared to Zeb.


  1. Chris, I don't suppose anyone video taped the thing (?). Videotaping of sessions would be a good step in the right direction of making all our academic-speak more accessible to folks. Especially if Zeb's presentation was as good as you say...I suspect it was!

    1. Jack, there's a rumor that it was videotaped, but I don't have confirmation of that or knowledge of who has it.