Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Yes I'm still here!

Grovelling apologies for being away for so long but I’ve been rather swamped since the festive season. I thought I was being terribly clever by spending the time I was house-bound from various snow storms getting all my lectures ready for 2011 but try as I might these things do have a habit of coming all of a once! I went to the Society for Old Testament Study (SOTS) conference in the lovely Durham for the first time and for some reason that became all the more insane the longer I was at the conference I gave a paper at the conference.
Collingwood College, Durham where the conference was held
At the swankiest conference of bible nerds you could possibly imagine-SOTS is one of those “exclusive” societies that you need a PhD to get into which made me rather fearful for a) the possibility that people would speak in Hebrew to each other (the two members who nominate you must vouch for your competency in Hebrew) and b) the possibility of an abundance of tweed. While there was a little tweed in evidence (to be honest I would have been disappointed if there hadn’t been any) it was the friendliest, most welcoming group of people I have met in a long time. What this has to say about bible nerds if you rid them of the NT riff-raff element is time for another post! It also struck me that no one asked for my business card-something that you find quite a lot at SBL-sometimes you think that the Annual Meeting is a competition to hand out as much cards as possible. Anyone whose email address I needed I wrote (Shock!) with a pen (Gasp!) in my notebook (Swoon!) and we had a good snigger at the fact we weren’t all cool and trendy like the SBL types.

I also got to meet the all-hallowed biblioblogger Jim West who thankfully documented and photographed much of the proceedings (you can go and have a look at his picture of me and Joe Blenkinsopp-that’ll be my Christmas card for next year!). Search his site for the tag "SOTS" for the full run through-well worth reading! I picked up some books to review for the SOTS Book List which I’ll post about later and one “for myself”- A Reassessment of Biblical Elohim by Joel S. Burnett which I’d been hunting out for a while.

My paper “What’s in a Name? The Names of God in Interfaith Dialogue” went without (much) rotten fruit throwing. It was a bit of a personal achievement for me (cue Oprah moment) as I’d finally decided (academically at least) to come out of the bible closet as it were and admit that, I, Máire Byrne, am a biblical theologian and it’s about time I stopped trying to be like the kool kids (the archaeologists and the linguists, etc) and stuck to what I’m trained in, and most importantly be helpful to my students. Nobody laughed or pointed at the Catholic trying to study the Bible so all in all a bit of a success!
Just when I thought I could get some peace when I got home, I had the copy-edited manuscript form my book to look over (in a week!) and get back to the publishers. Fingers crossed the book, based on my postdoc, The Names of God in Judaism, Christianity and Islam: A Basis for Interfaith Dialogue. My SOTS paper was based on this which is basically using systematic theology (or comparative theology) to do some good in the world! But more on that anon and now back to some biblenerdery…


  1. Maire,

    Well done on all of these things - papers, books, etc - all very exciting and worth being proud of! Hope to see you at IBA...

    Brad Anderson