Tuesday, December 04, 2007

SBL 2007 (p. 1)

You need to see a map of the area covered by the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) conference before I relate my adventures. Whereas the ASOR conference was limited to 2 floors of a single hotel, SBL invaded 2 hotels plus the San Diego Convention Center, which spans slightly more acreage than the 2 hotels combined! Here's a photo from Google Earth:

"G" marks the Grand Hyatt; "M" marks the Marriott; "C" marks the Convention Center (it's enormous, so I put one at each end; hereafter abbreviated "CC").

I drew a straight white line along the right side of the photo showing the length of the main walkway from the northwestern hotel tower to the southeastern end of the CC--it's 7/10ths of a mile (I pasted the "0.7" in the bottom-right corner of the photo from another screen-snap).

Knowing ahead of time that I'd be going to all 3 buildings at some point in the conference, & wanting to park in about the same place on each of the 3 days, I chose to park in about the middle--the northwest tower of the Marriott. As it turns out, most of the lectures I attended were in the Marriott.

I arrived at 1:30, & the first stop on my agenda was the Grand Hyatt's "Gregory A" room for a session entitled simply, "Josephus Group", with the sub-theme of "Josephus and the Essenes". It ran from 1:00 to 3:30, & Dr. Magness was estimated to speak from 2:15-2:35. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of the convention site, I was satisfied that I could stroll at a casual pace to find it, which I did, & I was quite proud of arriving at about 1:45 after meandering like a rat (a happy one, mind you) in a labyrinth!

Signs announcing the session were posted outside of each room, & when I arrived at "Gregory A", the sign said something entirely different! Thinking that maybe it was canceled or relocated, I spotted a person handing out abstract books & maps. I showed her the one I was interested in, & to my shock, it had been relocated ... to the CC...


So now you know the meaning of that yellow zig-zag line in the photo connected by red dots, which is a total of 1.25 miles!!! Of course, when I began the journey, I thought to myself, "Surely the intelligent SBL planners would have positioned their lectures at the northernmost wing of the CC so as to be conveniently close to the hotels--the southern end is probably parsed out for some other event..."

So as soon as I reached the CC's entrance, I asked an employee near a concession booth for detailed directions (it was in room "30E"). He had a completely confused look on his face, "E? What's E? I don't know any E..." I kid you not! It was the classic, "Don't ask me; I just work here" attitude!

So I kept walking ... & walking ... & walking ... You get the picture.

When I began the journey back at the Grand, I passed up Bruce Zuckerman & Marilyn Lundberg going the opposite direction, & looking just as dazed & bewildered as I was--glancing down at a map, looking around for a sign, to no avail, etc.

This actually turned out to be somewhat fun--these long walks, because every day I was there, no matter where I went, it seemed like there was a constant stream of people walking to & fro, just like ants, following a trail, going about their business, occasionally stopping to greet one another.

I spent more time looking at badges than faces, because frankly, I'm more familiar with names of the people I was interested in meeting than I was with their appearance. Some I had never seen any photos of.

While I was in the middle of the CC, I spotted one! Brad E. Kelle, Associate Professor of Old Testament at Point Loma Nazarene University. Earlier this year he published a nice little paperback, "Ancient Israel at War 853-586 BC".

Page 24 contains a photo of the Assyrian siege ramp at Lachish, taken directly from the LMLK Research website!

Page 52 contains a photo of Lachish Jar 5400, which contains 1 handle stamped with a Personal seal; & also a shot of an M2D handle (RAEL #273; BM #132072) with Circles.

He & I had never corresponded; the publisher, Osprey Publishing, had obtained all the photos. He told me how awesome they were in being able to accomplish this monumental task so efficiently & in such short time--the book is jam-packed with terrific photos of Ancient Near East sites & artifacts!

I introduced myself, showed him the book & the photos; he thanked me & signed it. I was totally thrilled because I had missed the session he had co-presided over earlier that morning, though were I a man of unlimited means, I would've loved to have attended it (for obvious reasons): "Warfare in Ancient Israel". He did not lecture elsewhere, so it was nothing short of miraculous that our paths should cross, & that I would see his name (often the badges were obscured by crowds or clothing), & that I would be carrying his book with me (there were many I wanted to bring, but had to narrow it down a bit--it ain't easy carrying a pile of books over a mile with dress-shoes on).

So I went from Frustrated to Fortuitous in only about three-quarters of a mile!

G.M. Grena

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