Monday, December 06, 2010

SBL Gatecrashing

Before I say anything about the SBL sessions, if I manage to collect anything from my not so detailed notes from this year's meeting, I will share some funny memories on the theme of SBL gatecrashing.

First, Ulrich Schmid invited me to the Birmingham breakfast (thank you), and I told my room mate and colleague, Mikael Tellbe, to join me and meet my friends. He was a bit hesitant and felt embarrassed since he did not know anyone (but me), but I told him not to, and so we had a very good time with a relaxed conversation around one of the two breakfast tables, and we both had nice chats; there were about 15 people there and I think I knew almost all (most of the folks were from ITSEE, save Mark Goodacre).

Mikael then told me it was my turn to join him to the Regent College breakfast reception the next morning. At the entrance we were warmthly welcomed by Rikki Watts, whom I had not met before. Then we were told to sign the guestbook indicating name and e-mailaddresses. We served ourselves breakfast and sat down at one of the tables. There were perhaps 60 people in the room, around 6-7 tables, Gordon Fee was there with his wife, and I also knew Michael Theophilus and Jim Leonard sitting at other tables (Jim had actually been Gordon Fee's TA when Mikael was at Regent, so Jim had learnt a lot, he said, from the experience of marking Mikael's papers, etc).

After people had settled around the tables, Rikki Watts held a nice talk about stuff going on at Regent these days. Then he said that we should go around each table, and everyone should present themselves and say when they were at Regent, what they studied, and what they are doing now. I bent towards Mikael and said, "You can say something about me being your colleague - I can't stand up." Then, I changed my mind, and said, "Ok, I can say something short..." But then, as the turn came to our table, I changed my mind again and told Mikael, "No, you go ahead and say something about me," which he did, "And this is Tommy Wasserman, and he has not been to Regent" :-). But I added, "But Regent has been to us - we have had several faculty members at our school."

Eventually, when everyone had presented themselves, it turned out there were three people present who had never studied at Regent. During the presentation, one of them stood up and said boldly: "I am at the wrong place, but I have learnt an awful lot!" The next evening when Peter Head and I were sitting at the hotel bar, Rikki Watts came by and joined us to discuss the cost of book manufacturing in the first century, and other interesting matters. It turned out that Peter and Rikki had had neighbouring study spaces for years at Tyndale Library, and were best of friends. Now I had the opportunity to return the hospitality and could take care of the bill.

The next, much funnnier story ;-), is about my colleague Mikael (I hope he doesn't read this, but I can't resist). Mikael met up with a friend and fellow student from the old days at Regent several times during the meeting. This very nice guy, whom I had the opportunity to meet, is currently writing a commentary for Zondervan, and was invited with another colleague to the Zondervan authors' meeting. The other person, however, was prevented to come to the meeting, and so the friend invited Mikael instead (who is not a Zondervan author - yet). The meeting turned out to be very cosy and informal. Of course, the Zondervan directors wondered who Mikael was, but after explaining he was heartily welcomed - in the end the Zondervan manager insisted that Mikael should have the little book bag gift which was given to the invited authors with some complementary Zondervan books.

However, at the beginning of the meeting, when everyone had settled around the table, the Zondervan representative announced a nice little welcome lottery – the price was a pack of commentaries. The winning ticket had been hidden under one of the chairs. So everyone stuck down their hands and fumbled around under the chairs. Lo and Behold! Mikael pulled out a little piece of paper, and bent towards his friend waving with the ticket: "Hey, I've won the lottery, I have the ticket ... what should I now do?" The uninvited guest wins the lottery? Then, suddenly, someone else announced that he had the winning ticket. What now? Didn't I have it, Mikael thought? Mikael looked again on his piece of paper. On it he could read the chair production number and place of manufacturing.


  1. Mikael being confused about the piece of paper on the underneath side of his chair sounds like a scribe mis-reading his exemplar.

  2. Tommy,

    I liked the story. I’ve never met Rikki Watts either but I had an e-copy of his dissertation in 1991, printed it out all 500 pages and read it. I’ve never been to Regents and it is more or less local. Under 200 miles north. Back in the 90s Regents was sending some of their big names on speaking tours. I picked up on some of those, Bruce Waltke, John Stott, missed J.I. Packer which was really local, just a few miles away.

  3. Great stories, Tommy.

    Gatecrashing is a fine SBL tradition, I think.

    I make a regular habit of it whenever I am fortunate enough to be able to attend.

    One year I crashed the princeton reception, and had the great fortune of meeting Bruce Metzger. He was a man of class all the way, took the time to learn my name before formally greeting me and announcing what an honour it was to meet me. To meet me!! What a fine man.

    It was just a few years later that he passed, yet I'll never forget that experience. And all because of good crashing.

    I'll add that, in my experience, the princeton reception usually has the very best food. And, lest anyone think I'm a total crook, I did actually have a form of relationship with the school at the time.