Reflections on AARSBL15

Well, I’m wrapping up from the American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting 2015, and thought I’d compile some thoughts from it.

Travel to/from

Since I had to foot the bill for my own flights, I flew Korean Air from Sydney to Atlanta, via Korea. That is not very direct. I do really like KAL though, and a layover in the Grand Hyatt Incheon was very welcome on the way over. There’s only a 1hr layover on the way back, which wasn’t so bad in the end, particularly as my first flight (Atlanta to Seoul) was fairly empty and I had multiple seats to enjoy. 23/25hrs travel time is a lot, and people ask if it’s worth it. I don’t know, because I don’t know how one actually quantifies the value of conferences.


My first impression of Atlanta is that the airport is huge, since it took 20 minutes to walk from my gate to Immigration control. The conference took place in Downtown Atlanta, which is a weird phenomenon in itself. I understand why US cities have deserted inner cities, but it’s still odd because in Australia the center of cities remain a hub of activity. Here, it was actually difficult to find shops/restaurants/anything that would actually serve you. Still, I managed to make do.

My Paper

I arrived on the Friday and my paper was on the Saturday afternoon, so nice and early in the program. I presented a portion of my research with the title, “Is Basil a pro-Nicene exegete? Patterns of scriptural usage in Against Eunomius“. Overall I think it went well, and was well received. The question time and discussion afterwards was also valuable (more so than the single question I had at Oxford Patristics), and gave me a few things to think through/follow up in my research.

Other sessions

On the Saturday morning I attended a session in the Religious Competition in Late Antiquity section, and listened to a range of papers on martyrdom that were quite interesting. Also on Saturday I attended some papers in the Theological Interpretation of Scripture section, focused on the Trinity and/in the Bible. I was particularly interested to hear Matthew Bates speak, and that was indeed all I had anticipated.

On the Sunday I attended two sections in the Applied Linguistics section, which allowed me to meet quite a few people that I had interacted in with online about Greek, Linguistics, and Pedagogy. So that was good all round. There was then a second section of the Development of Early Christian Theology looking at tools and practices of Exegesis, that was again quite rewarding, though I ducked out of the last paper because I was too tired to pay attention properly.

I took Monday morning off (see below), and attended a single section on the Monday afternoon, again in the Development of Early Christian Theology section, a review panel of David Michaelson’s book, ‘The Practical Christology of Philoxenos of Mabbug’, which is something I knew virtually nothing about (apart from having met David earlier in the year at Oxford Patristics). I was richly rewarded by all the speakers and appreciated having my horizons broadened outside my narrow 4th century world.

Tourist Life

I have a lot of thoughts about America and Americans, but this isn’t the place for them! You’ll have to elicit them in a less public forum. On the Monday I did get out and went to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Site, along with Ebenezer Baptist Church, King’s tomb, and the King Center. I found this really interesting and moving. The history of race relations, injustice, and racism in Australia has parallels to America, but really they are very different histories in many respects.

Anyway, now I am back in Sydney and tomorrow I will be back into thesis writing.

3 responses

  1. I am sorry that Atlanta was the American city that you got a taste of. I despite visiting Atlanta — it is one of the most sprawled-out messes I have ever seen, with a freeway system that can only have been designed by drunk elephants. Still, I am glad you had a productive and enjoyable time at the SBL!