Baker Academic

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

On Proposing a Paper - Le Donne

I was recently asked this question:
A little help here...If one was going to submit an abstract to the SBL Historical Jesus session this year, what theme or topic do you think would be most useful? The SBL website notes, "we invite proposals on any aspect," which is somewhat frustrating.
It seems that the person asking had already received two answers (before I chimed in) to this effect: "propose something interesting." This may seem like an evasive answer but it really is the best sort of answer. In other words, starting with a topic or a theme might not be the best way to start.  Perhaps it's better to start with something that interests you and write the paper.  If, after writing it, you think it would be well-suited for a particular SBL unit, submit a proposal to that unit. I think that choosing a unit first might be backwards.




  1. Bryan Lewis writes:

    'My primary concern is submitting something that is relevant to current historical Jesus studies. I would rather not submit something that is considered to be naive or outdated, e.g., "we dealt with that 20 years ago." Ha!'

    1. Thanks for the fodder Bryan. It seems to me that the HJ section is quite willing to explore and re-explore well trod topics. The two 2012 themes had to do with criteria and the apocalyptic non-apocalyptic divide. Both of these topics are old school.

      I wouldn't be reluctant to revisit a well traversed topic, in other words. Sometimes those conversations are worth revisiting because they've proven themselves to be the most fruitful.