For the second time this year, hopes for a sabbatical to work on the final report about the NIP have yielded to the needs of students. A second faculty search has failed, and so I will be in the classroom this spring teaching about the Bible, interpretation, and the story of Jesus, rather than publishing archaeological research about early Christianity. Although I am disappointed, my students always come first. I am sprinting to be ready for classes beginning 13 January. Archaeological remains were in the ground for centuries. The final report will come in less time.
Dr. Mark Schuler
About Dr. Mark Schuler
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Monday at #SBL2019 began with a most interesting session on Negotiating the Roman Imperial world. A paper on Imperial Rome as a borderland helped me better to understand places of connection and separation in an urban context. In Rome that was 14 administrative regions, 265 neighborhoods, 170 bathhouses, the Tiber River, not to mention public spaces and places of worship. The river sorted, but it was also a place of collaboration. A second paper demonstrated the messiness of migration by looking at burial inscriptions and teasing ideas out of biblical texts. As the next paper began, I got a message from Delta.
That was the interruption . . . a winter storm was expected to engulf the Twin Cities Tuesday evening, and I was scheduled to get back on the red eye, arriving after midnight. So, I skipped the rest of the section to reschedule my flight home. I was fortunate to get a seat on a flight first thing on Tuesday, which would get me home early afternoon before the storm.
The final session on Tuesday addressed Archaeology and the Bible. I learned that the four-space house, often found in Israelite areas of occupation, was well-designed to accommodate the keeping of ritual purity, as one did not have to pass through one space to get to another. Uncleanliness could easily be isolated. I also picked up the suggestion that the martyrion of Philip at Hieropolis may have been the antecedent for the octagonal churches found in the holy land (cp. also the Dome of the Rock).
And I did beat the storm home… #WeAreCSP
On a beautiful day in San Diego at #SBL2019 I had wonderful opportunities to connect with friends (Elna Solvang, Michael Patella, and Deanna Thompson). Yes, I did skip some sessions. I also looked into options for a travel seminar in the footsteps of Paul for students at Concordia. I attended an academic session on Corinthians and a fascinating session exploring the various roles of space in Biblical interpretation.
I found the concepts of first space (physical), second space (theoretical) and third space (representational) to be potentially helpful tools in pursuing meaning of a text. Four speakers worked with the Hodayot psalms from Qumran (1QHa), 1 Enoch, the healing of the blind man at Bethsaida in Mark, and Paul’s shipwreck voyage to Rome in Acts. I must ponder these concepts more. #WeAreCSP
Saturday afternoon I moved to the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (#SBL2019). I first attended a session on the Johannine Epistles. I found particularly helpful the analysis of the languages similarities between the fourth gospel and the epistles by Hugo Mendez. He argues that the density of the parallels in the epistles point to an effort of the author to identify with the fourth gospel, rather than the similarities being the product of a Johannine school. I have never been convinced of the “school” hypothesis. The work here give another way to look at the data, although I am also not comfortable of immediately assuming a pseudepigraphic agenda.
I was also able to meet with reps from Zondervan to set up Concordia’s participation in a pilot of their new enhanced digital textbook project.
The presidential lecture rounded off the day. #WeAreCSP
My final session at #ASOR2019 looked at archaeology in the Late Antique period. A careful study of signatures on mosaics showed a shift from the Roman period when most work was done in domestic circumstances to the Late Antique period when most work was done in churches and synagogues. In the later case signatures are less for advertising and instead show that the mosaicists became valued members of the community. A second study of red slip shows shifts in usage that are helpful for dating (e.g., the rise of PRS). Lastly, a paper shows construction inspired by Hadrian was significant following his visit to the east is 129/130 and imitated Hadrian’s methodology in reconstructing Antioch and Apamea following the earthquake of 115. Builders were not just inspired by Hadrian’s visit but also by his own methods.