#SBLAAR2020: Days 3-4

Yesterday, I attended the joint session “The Intersection of Bible and the United States 2020 Politics” of SBL’s Bible and Practical Theology and AAR’s Evangelical Studies Units where I heard Anna Hutchinson’s “The Role of Theological Education in Evangelical Bible Reading and Interpretation” and Marie Purcell’s “A Battle between Good and Evil: Ethnographic Reflections on the Election from First Baptist Dallas”. Both were fascinating. Then I got to hear some of the presentations from the Ecological Hermeneutics/Paul and Politics SBL session.

Today, I’m presenting at 5 pm EST (4 pm CST) on the topic “Muddy Paper in Plastic Bags: Practicing Textual Criticism”. It’s a “teaching tactic” style presentation on an activity I had my students do in order to teach them a little bit about how the Bible is formed. If you’re interested, here are PDFs of the handout and the Slides:

Here are a couple of posts I wrote after I offered the activity to my students:

#SBLAAR2020: Day 2

In-between teaching my classes, I had the opportunity to hear a couple of great papers: Laura Robinson’s “The ‘Myth of Persecution’ and the Portrayal of ‘Totalitarian Rome’ in Popular Christian Media” and Rebekah Carere’s “Trump as King Cyrus: Biblical Hermeneutics in the Trump Era”. Both were brilliant. They were part of the “Bible and Popular Culture” unit. Shortly, I’ll attend “Reading, Theory, and the Bible” where several of the titles were eye-catching.

The hermeneutics of study Bibles made for children and adolescents

Yesterday at #sblaar20 I heard a presentation where the scholar examined how the opening verses of Genesis 1 are translated/summarized/presented in children’s Bibles and it made me wonder: If I were to do something similar by examining study Bibles made for teens, what would be a passage you’d want to know how it’s being interpreted/taught?

#SBLAAR2020: Day 1

I’m teaching from home this week because we’re in the middle of an ongoing and worsening global pandemic, so in-between classes I’ve been trying to attend sessions of #SBLAAR2020. This morning I slipped in one session from “Use, Influence, and Impact of the Bible”. It was a great presentation by R. K. Wilkowski “Text, Theology, and Adaptation: The Influence of Creation ex nihlio and Functional Ontology on Retellings of Genesis 1:1–2 in Children’s Bibles”. It made me curious about teen study Bibles and how they present/interpret the Bible. That may be a future project of mine. (It would fit my teaching demographic!)

This afternoon I was able to join the Synoptic Gospels section. It was difficult to focus while prepping for classes but I did get to hear Greg Carey and David Burnett. Now I’m in a pedagogy focused session: Teaching Biblical Studies in an Undergraduate Liberal Arts Context.

I feel like I’ll attend more sessions since there’s no lunch, dinner, or coffee meetings to distract. This year will provide that academic conferences are 25% academics/75% socializing. What do we do without the socializing?!

AAR/SBL 2020

Today begins the nearly two week long, completely online, pandemic-version of AAR/SBL. I’m actively teaching this week and next, so I’ll be slipping in and out of parts of sessions. I may attend more sessions than if we were in-person though. There’s no going out to lunch or browsing endlessly through the book exhibit (though they do have a digital version of that too…not the same). I’ll be presenting on Thursday at 5 pm EST.

I can’t believe that just a year ago we were finishing Thanksgiving Break. I stayed in San Diego for a few days after the conference with my wife. Who knew what 2020 was going to bring us?!

Putting religion in its global context (3): three premises of Religious Studies

The new school year has begun. I confess: remote (online) teaching is a lot more work than ‘normal’ teaching. That being said, I’m glad we started the year online where I work. It was the safe decision. It was the right decision.

It’s been a few weeks since I blogged about my course ‘Religion in Global Context’. I’m enjoy the semester thus far. I really like how the curriculum is unfolding. In my most recent post on the topic I mentioned how I’ll be introducing (and now have introduced) my students to some of the principles found in AAR‘s ‘Guidelines for Teaching About Religion in K-12 Public Schools in the United States’. That previous post looked at three reasons (premises) for why high school students should learn about religion. The follow-up lesson (in progress with my students) examines three premises for Religious Studies, or three premises for how Religious Studies should be teach. Those premises are:

  1. Religions are Internally Diverse
  2. Religions are Dynamic
  3. Religions are Embedded in Culture

These principles are important for students to understand because they show/remind them that:

  1. If you’ve met one adherent of a religion you haven’t met them all.
  2. What you’ve heard in the media about a religious group should be taken with a grain of salt since not all members are alike.
  3. While it may be a ‘necessary lie’ to say things like ‘Christians believe…’ or ‘Muslims practice…’ (because you can’t spend all your time unpacking the caveats), it’s still an overgeneralization.
  4. No religion is static and unchanging, so it shouldn’t be surprising if you hear that some members of a religion are rethinking what others hold dear.
  5. While we may separate religion from ‘philosophy’ or ‘culture’ or ‘politics’ these are practical distinctions that don’t actually reflect how religious people live their lives.
  6. Buddhism in China may not look like Buddhism in California; Christianity in Brazil might not look like Christianity in Japan. Just as religion impacts culture; culture impacts religion.

I could go on but you get the point. What students need to know is that there’s no single, eternal definition of religion (speaking from the perspective of Religious Studies and not theology). It gives permission to students to learn about different religious groups and their claims without being preoccupied with whether or not they should be accepting or rejecting that religion’s truth-claims (they can do that later once they understand various religions in all their diversity).

Anyway, for those who are interested, here’s lesson