Biblical Archaeology Review 22:2, March/April 1996

“Annual Miracle” Visits Philadelphia

Historical Jesus and Jewish roots of Christianity draw overflow audiences

By Hershel Shanks

If it were up to me, I would change the name of the Annual Meeting (the joint annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Academy of Religion and the American Schools of Oriental Research [ASOR]) to the Annual Miracle. It simply blows my mind to see 8,000 Bible scholars and archaeologists get together for four days (this past year in Philadelphia from November 18–21) to give and listen to over a thousand lectures, sometimes dozens to choose from given simultaneously, often with four or five enticing subjects at the same time. No one can attend more than a small percentage of them, and I always worry that my choices are not representative.1 But, as they say, what can you do!

The winner of this year’s prize for the lecture with the most esoteric title is Jack Lightstone of Concordia University. The title: “From Rabbinic Priestly Scribes to Rabbinic Sages: A Socio-Rhetorical Perspective on Tosefta’s (Dis)simulation [sic] of Mishnah’s Rhetorical Features.” The runner-up is Stuart Creason of the University of Chicago, who gave a paper entitled: “The Interaction of Syntax, Verb Form and Discourse Structure in the Karatepe Inscription.”

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