Papers, Publishers, and Peers: A Conference “Thanksgiving” Report

Richard Rohlfing Jr., PhD Candidate.

Presenting my paper at the “Intertextuality and Hebrew Bible” unit of SBL

Thanks to the generous support of St. John’s College Student Opportunities Fund I was able to present an academic paper at the annual SBL/AAR meeting (Society of Biblical Literature/American Academy of Religion) in San Diego, California from 23-26 November 2019. I was very honored to have my paper accepted for presentation at the annual meeting as it is one of the world’s largest conferences in the fields of biblical scholarship and religious and theological studies. My paper was entitled, “Can I Get a Witness?: Reading Isaiah 43 in light of the Song of Moses and its Narrative Frame (Deuteronomy 31-32).” I was grateful to receive very positive feedback, especially from one of the unit chairs, Dr. Hyun Chul Paul Kim, whose work I interacted with in considerable depth. He remarked to me after the session, “Very convincing!” and even asked me to send him the paper. I couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome.

Visiting with former Durham University Theology and Religion students Adam Shaeffer and Jonathan Bentall at the review panel of Sandra Richter’s Stewards of Eden

In addition to presenting at the conference I was able to use this opportunity to meet with several publishers. For instance, I met with Lexham Press, the publisher of a forthcoming volume of papers that I am co-editing with Cranmer Hall’s Dr. Richard Briggs and former St. John’s student, Dr. Stephen Campbell. I was also contacted just prior to the conference by the senior editor of another publishing company who had read a blog I wrote on the above-mentioned conference. He was interested in discussing the possibility of working on a book project together. I was able to meet him at the conference and discuss an idea I’ve had for some time. Thus, the outcome of that conversation may ultimately result in the publication of a workbook that I write (post PhD thesis, of course!). Again, I’m incredibly thankful to the Student Opportunities Fund and their donors, for making this trip a possibility.

It was a joy to catch up with close friends, many of them former Durham University graduates, who were themselves students at St. John’s College. It was encouraging to hear about the incredible work they are doing in academia, industry, and the church throughout the world.

An exert of my review used to advertise the book itself

Though I’d heard it said before, I can now attest to the truth of it, you never really know what you might encounter at SBL/AAR. For instance, while wandering around the book exhibit I was surprised to find an excerpt of a review I had written for a wonderful Hebrew grammar being used as an endorsement to market the textbook!

Overall, the conference was an incredibly enriching experience and one that I could not have self-supported. Being a member of the generous and genuine community at St. John’s College, Durham continues to make an indelible difference to my experience as a postgraduate research student.

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