Each year in November professional meetings pertaining to the field of biblical studies are held in a major U.S. city. The largest meeting is the SBL/AAR meeting. That is the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion. Together these organizations attract maybe eight thousand persons who are involved in teaching and researching in the fields of Biblical Studies and Religious Studies.
ASOR, the American Schools of Oriental Research, meets separately a few days ahead of the other meeting. This organization attracts those who are teaching and active in the field of Near Eastern archaeology.
The Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) currently meets at the same time as ASOR. I think in some recent years as many as 2000 members attend ETS. This organization attracts scholars who are admittedly conservative in their approach toward the Scriptures. Most of them teach in seminaries or religious schools.
Some international scholars attend each of these meetings.
From time to time I have someone ask me why I attend. I will suggest a couple of reasons based on the current ETS meeting, and these reasons will be true of both meetings.
Books, Books, Books. I do not buy as many books as I once did, but I still like to see what is being published. The ETS book exhibit has grown from a few tables several years back to a large exhibit hall this year. Many of the major religious publishers offer deep discounts to the members. They know that these teachers may use their books, or at least recommend them, in their classes. Only members with the proper ID are allowed in the exhibit hall.
The books on display are mainly the current publications along with a few of the previous best sellers.
Friends. Another reason I attend the meetings to to see old friends and make new ones. Jack is now a freelance representative. This week he was working for Moody Press.
For the first time, Todd Bolen had a display of his Pictorial Library of the Bible Lands. We have written about this series here.
A. D. Riddle made new maps for the revised PLBL. He was helping at the booth. A customer is on the right. Bolen is in the background. This was my first time to meet A. D., he has been helpful to me several times via correspondence.
I ran across Mark Wilson, author of Biblical Turkey: A Guide to the Jewish and Christian Sites of Asia Minor. Mark lives in Turkey part of each year, and has spoken to one of my groups. Everyone who plans a trip to Turkey, or who just wants to know more about the Biblical places in Turkey, should have this book.
Other friends I saw included Steve Wolfgang, former students Rusty Taylor and Randy Murphy.
In another post I will mention some of the papers I heard.