My second day at SBL was a lot of fun and focused on my primary reason for being there. I did little in the morning, but in the afternoon I sat/stood by my poster and answered questions from those who stopped by. The foot traffic on the second floor of the San Diego Convention Center wasn’t heavy, unfortunately, but a few people came by and stopped at my poster.
Even though the traffic was light, one person stopped by who made the whole thing worthwhile — Kent Yinger, Associate Professor of NT at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. His name is even mentioned in both my poster and my paper. His dissertation, Paul, Judaism, and Judgment According to Deeds, was published in the SNTS Monograph Series in 1999. He holds to the Gentile Christian, non-hypothetical view of Rom 2:12-16 which I critiqued in my paper. It was helpful to have someone from the other side to interact with, which is exactly what I wanted. One nice thing is that he used to work at Fuller as the director of the Center for Advanced Theological Studies which oversees the Th.M. and Ph.D. programs in the School of Theology. He’s also friends with Don Hagner. So we had that connection in common and hit it off right away. Even though we disagree on Rom 2:13 we had a good, friendly exchange that helped me to spot a structural problem in my paper, as well as to get a clearer understanding of his own position.
Later that night I attended a big confab on the 500 books (I exaggerate) published this year on the Gospel of Judas where the authors got to present their books for 5 minutes each. Afterward, I got to meet Simon Gathercole who has also written a book on the Gospel of Judas. But my interests lay elsewhere. Gathercole is another representative of the Gentile Christian view, but he does not hold the NPP interpretation of “works of the Law” as a technical term for Jewish exclusivism and boundary markers, which makes him something of an anomoly. I wish I could have had more time with him, but he did reinforce for me the need to expand the section on my paper in which I deal with the difficulty of making a big disjunction between “doers of the Law” (2:13) and “works of the Law” (3:20).
Another session I attended was on biblical lexicography with a focus on Greek lexicography of both the NT and LXX. John A. L. Lee and Albert Pietersma were among the speakers that I most enjoyed. Lee sounds like an Asian name but he’s just a regular white guy from Australia. Both Lee and Pietersma are highly regarded experts in the rarified field of LXX studies. I was delighted that Pietersma’s lecture was directly relevant to my proposed dissertation topic. (I plan to write on Hermann Cremer’s Hebraic/relational interpretation of Paul’s righteousness terminology. This issue is directly relevant to the NPP because it is the philological basis for the Dunn/Wright view that “the righteousness of God” means “God’s covenant faithfulness.”) Pietersma did not mention the dikaios word group but he addressed the broader methodological question of how one can determine whether any given Greek word shows signs of Semitic influence. Afterward I got a chance to discuss with both Lee and Pietersma the seed of my dissertation idea and to get their opinion on Cremer’s theory. They were both quite skeptical of it (Cremer’s theory) and thought that I was on the right track. I was so excited to get some confirmation from these doyens of LXX lexicography.
So my second day at SBL was very productive for me. I plan to do a slight re-write and expansion of my paper on Rom 2:13 in light of what I learned from my helpful interactions with Yinger and Gathercole. With regard to my dissertation, I feel energized to move forward with my topic.