It's now SBL in Washington. The conference begins in earnest tomorrow morning, but already there has been much of interest to textual critics. The display of manuscripts in the Freer Gallery is phenomenal. Quite the richest display I've seen together in one place. I'm sure that there will be much discussion of it after the conference.
The 5 hour session on the Freer Biblical Manuscripts happened today. Larry Hurtado spoke about the significance of the collection. Kent Clarke spoke about the biography of Charles Lang Freer and produced evidence that some of the manuscripts may have come from Dimai (Soknopaei Nesou) in the Fayoum. David Trobisch explained how to read a page of the Freer Gospels and spoke about various details on the page. Timothy Brown gave a live demonstration of how he cuts high quality images of the facing page of a manuscript, flips them horizontally, makes them see-through and then superimposes them on the page they face and thereby tests hypotheses of transfer of ink across facing pages (he did various other things too). Thomas Wayment spoke about multispectral imaging. Just as an aside he mentioned the loss to water of 32 boxes of ca. 1000 manuscript fragments each of the Oxyrhynchus Collection in the Ashmolean in Oxford (!). Malcolm Choat spoke about the Minor Prophets scroll in the Freer Collection and specifically about the text that follows it. Leonard Greenspoon was not able to give his paper about the Freer Joshua. Jean-Francois Racine compared the textual smoothness of W with B, comparing the changing tastes of textual critics to the changing fashions of taste in wine. James Royse talked about the various types of corrections in the Freer Gospels and Ulrich Schmid rounded off the day with a provocative paper addressing the question of the date of the Freer Gospels. The IV/V century date seems to have no secure basis and a later date (e.g. VI century or later) is entirely possible. The papers were all so good that 5 hours non-stop still kept the interest of someone with jet-lag. That's a good sign.