For those of us who get excited about the chance to spend a week with a bunch of total nerds who love nothing better than to read read read, write write write, and then argue about it all, this is geek heaven. Bible geek heaven. And I’m proud to be one, no mistaking that. A Bible geek, that is.
That’s why I’m very excited that the program for SBL’s (Society of Biblical Literature) annual conference is available online. This year the conference is in Baltimore, which is particularly fun for me because I spent four years in the area whilst attending the Naval Academy (I do not, however, plan on drinking as much this Fall as I did 15 years ago during my undergraduate midshipman days).
I highly recommend to any wanna-be PhD’s, or those even slightly considering postgraduate work to attend this conference. A year ago last summer, I was already sending emails to potential doctoral supervisors and inviting them to meet face-to-face during the annual conference. This was the advice given to me by a number of buddies who already had their PhD, and it was solid.
In fact, the advice was so solid that by following it, I ended up meeting with some of my theological scholar heroes in the flesh. I will never forget waiting in the back of the room with Preston Sprinkle during the first Paul session. As all these eminent scholars got up to leave, I walked right up to N. T. (Tom) Wright and said, “Professor Wright, I’m Tavis Bohlinger.” And he looked right at me and said, “Oh, yes! Let’s go find a place to chat, shall we?” And we slipped into a side room away from all the commotion, which room I believe was reserved for VIP’s, but I got us both some free coffee from the side table and we sat and hashed through Romans 15 in the Greek together for an hour.
And that was only my first meeting.
Other meetings I had set up earlier, and actually came to fruition, included Peter Williams (Tyndale House), Andrew Clarke (Aberdeen), Douglas Moo (Wheaton), Peter Oakes (Manchester), Scott Hafemann (St. Andrews), Matthew Novenson (Edinburgh) and of course, John Barclay (Durham).
So, if you haven’t gotten the point by now, you need to start “courting” the guys you think you’d enjoy being mentored by during your doctorate. Don’t be scared, they won’t bite. Just drop them a short note expressing your appreciation for their work, your desire to study under them, a possible topic idea, and wait. If you get a response, then request an in-person meeting over coffee or lunch at SBL.
Any questions? Post them in the comments and I’ll be happy to respond.