Philo, Shirley and the Society of Biblical Literature

Jim Davila of directs us to Philonica et Neotestamentica and Torrey Seland’s post on the schedule for the Philo of Alexandria Seminar sessions at the upcoming SBL Annual Meeting. Philo is the principle reason I can’t get Shirley to attend SBL meetings. Well more accurately, a single SBL paper on Philo is the reason I can’t get her to attend SBL meetings.
During my exile from things academic I did get to an occasional SBL meeting. The 1986 annual meeting in Boston was such an occasion. The plan was to spend a week of vacation seeing the sites, visiting old friends and attending several SBL sessions. The first session we attended had something to do with ancient philosophy and the interpretation of the Bible. I’m not sure why I wanted to attend that session but at the time I was spending many of my evenings and weekends thinking about ancient Greek philosophy and there must have been something in the session that interested me. Anyway, the session began with a learned scholar mumbling a paper on some microscopic philological point in the work of Philo of Alexandria into his manuscript. After two or three overdue attempts to get him to cease and desist, the chairman mercifully was able to shut him up. While I have repressed the content of this paper with its seeming hundreds of thousands of references each more obscure than the previous one, I do remember the words of the chairman after the ordeal finally ended without any loss of life. He said, “I don’t suppose there are any questions. Now our next speaker is . . .”
That was it. Shirley had attended her first and last SBL session.
Actually, I did get her to join me at the Gezer reunion session and reception in Philadelphia in 2005 but she knew all but one of the speakers and that was actually an American Schools of Oriental Research event and not an SBL event.
I wish Torrrey and the other Philo of Alexandria Seminar scholars well at this coming SBL meeting but don’t count on Shirley being in attendance. Actually, our current plans call for me to attend the SBL annual meeting while Shirley hangs out with our niece in San Francisco.