Well, another SBL annual meeting has come and gone.  I had a great time this year here in New Orleans.  For some reason, the conference was not as well attended as in past years, but it was still an enlightening experience.

Despite the fact that my connecting flight from Atlanta was delayed two hours (which made me miss the events I had planned for Saturday night, including the BYU and Friends Reception) I am grateful that I arrived here in New Orleans safely and that I’ve been able to have some great experiences and meet good people.

As I arrived late Saturday night, I quickly checked into my hotel and then ran directly to the Sheraton Hotel, where the BYU reception was being held. I missed the reception, but luckily, I almost immediately ran into Drs. John Gee and Jack Welch in the Lobby and we then met up with a large group of BYU professors and graduates. I had a great time talking to many of them, including Dr. John Hall, whom I had met in London at the Temple Studies Group symposium, and also Daniel McClellan (MA student at Oxford) and Matt Grey (PhD student at UNC). I had the pleasure to meet and speak with many others.

Sunday morning I attended a great (and sadly under-attended) session entitled “Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Early Christianity.” This is a great SBL group that looks at, from a mult-disciplinary approach, how ancient Jews and Christians experienced religion.  There was much talk of ritual and practice and the idea that behind the mystical and apocalyptic texts, there was probably ritual and/or experiential underpinnings.  That means that these texts are likely not just metaphorical or symbolic, but are probably based, at least to some degree, on real people and their real religious experiences.  This is potentially very significant.

As I have to check out of my hotel in 15 minutes, I must end here.  I will report on my further experiences and lessons learned here in New Orleans, plus details regarding my own presentation, in my next post.

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