Friday, November 28, 2008

CSBS 2008 Review - Part 3

I know, I know, I should get with the program and talk about SBL last weekend in Boston along with all the other bibliobloggers instead of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies Annual Meeting that was held almost six months ago. But a panel discussion on "A Week in the Life of an Academic" is especially timely at the tail-end of a busy semester, and several of the panelists' comments stuck with me.

I arrived in time to hear the first panelist, Michel Desjardins of Wilfrid Laurier University, saying "balance comes from within."

Next up was Terrence Donaldson, a New Testament professor at Wycliffe College, who recommended setting aside the first day of the work week for research before one is exhausted by other teaching, administrative or ministry demands. Or, as he might have put it, "pay yourself first."

Marion Taylor, an Old Testament professor also at Wycliffe College, talked about the challenges of raising a family when both spouses are full-time academics. Among other things she said that the old model--where the wife is expected to sacrifice her career goals to support her spouse--is obsolete. Couples must work as a team. I presume this means that neither is as academically "productive" as they would be on their own, for she added "don't worry about books you didn't write while kids are small." Family forces integration of academics and real life.

In contrast to the complete integration of academics and life exemplified by the Wycliffe College profs, Phil Harland (York University) insisted that academics is not life--at least not for someone who is not in "ministry." In addition to setting regular time each week aside for research, Phil tries to spend at least one day a week not working.


This is part 3 in a 2-part series. Part 4 dates from June 5.

Parts 1 and 2, alas, are destined for oblivion. There will be no summary of the three hour Dead Sea Scrolls session with papers on "Pseudo-autonomous Determinism" and abstracts that mention "1QS IX 5, 26, X 6 and CD XI 21." (The session might seem to reflect typical scholarly preoccupation with esoteric minutiae. But for those in the room who had read and taken courses on the scrolls, the discussion among a handful of scrolls scholars who care deeply about the texts and their social contexts was pulsating with life. One highlight I should mention was Eileen Schuller's report on the new edition of the Hodayot that will render all previous translations of the scrolls obsolete.)

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