Category Archives: SBL

IBR Friday PM Session: Tremper Longman on Commentaries

Tremper Longman

The Institute for Biblical Research meeting on Friday night featured Tremper Longman speaking on “Of the Making of Commentaries There Is No End: The Past, Present, and Future of a Genre.”

Of course, Tremper knows firsthand about commentaries since he has been an editor and a contributor to many.

“Why write new commentaries?” Tremper outlined seven reasons why commentaries should continue to be written.

  1. Advances in knowledge (e.g. language, “covenant” in light of ANE treaties, cognate literature discoveries).
  2. New methods and perspectives (i.e. canonical approach)
  3. Competing interpretations. There are many perspectives at the table.
  4. Human finitude. Each scholar brings a distinctive set of skills.
  5. Community. We come from different backgrounds and we need to read in community.
  6. Changing contexts. How the text bears on life today.
  7. Different readerships. Scholars, clergy and laypeople.

The second question Longman asked (and answered) was “Why keep old commentaries?”

  1. To read in community who have lived throughout history.
  2. To avoid modern hubris.

And finally Tremper answered, “What type of new commentaries do we need?” This question must address the issues of both content and delivery. Content must be tailored for the scholars, clergy, and popular audience. The popular commentaries should not be avoided or neglected. Scholars should not shun this type of commentary for fear of repercussions (for their career) from “simplifying” content. One difficulty for scholars in writing for clergy may be that it is hard for them to reflect about the modern world because they spend so much time absorbed in the ancient world. More emphasis must be placed on theological interpretation and reflection (two series were highlighted: Two Horizons series and the new Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible).

In particular, Tremper emphasized that there is a need for OT commentaries which have a Christological view to help clergy preach the OT in context of redemptive history.

The future shape of commentaries must include digital formats (even though Tremper said he will always prefer the hard copy himself). Digital delivery will allow wider dissemination, ability to address various levels of audience, and can be more easily updated.

Professor Choon-Leong Seow (Princeton Seminary) and Professor Daniel Treier (Wheaton College) were the respondents.

The Philly Cheesesteak of New Orleans: The Muffuletta

We asked someone on the street where to go for a good (and reasonable) lunch. He directed us to the Central Grocery, which is the home of the muffuletta (I had never heard of this before today). I never would have walked into this place, it is so small and “hole-in-the-wall-ish.” But, wow. What a great lunch! If you get a chance, check it out!
Central Grocery
Very narrow store. This is almost the entire width.
Central Grocery
A local favorite (and later I found out it is mentioned in many guides to New Orleans).
Central Grocery
Bragging rights as originator of the muffuletta sandwich.
Central Grocery
The sandwich is about 10 inches in diameter.
Central Grocery
That sandwich was shared by 4 people (just so you get a bit of perspective on the size!)

SBL tips

Jim West has a great post giving his best tips (actually, 10 commandments) of how to “do” the SBL annual meeting.

UPDATE: Mark Goodacre has also added his sagely advice here.

I’d like to add one very important suggestion: Wear comfortable shoes!! Even if you are staying in the headquarter hotel, you may have signed up for the SBL Fitness Program without knowing it. For example, in San Diego (2007), you had to hike through what seemed like miles of convention hall lobbies to get to the Book Exhibit and Meeting Rooms which were at the extreme opposite end of the convention center from the attached main hotel (we’re talking city blocks here folks).

My maiden name is Murphy, so listen to me about this next Law of SBL Session room assignments. The distance between session rooms is inversely related to the amount of time you have to get to the next session. Check your Program (and map) carefully!