As Brian mentioned (here), he and I went attended the 2011 PNW SBL/AAR/ASOR meeting in Spokane. The event was thoroughly enjoyable, despite that I had my upper wisdom teeth pulled the week before and that the antibiotics were doing a number on me. Because Brian has covered the event from a broader view, this post will be from the perspective of a first-time presenter.

First, I was really nervous, but I think that is common when one does not know what to expect. Part of the nervousness for me was whether I could keep my paper within the allotted time and still allow for interaction. I had about 10 and 1/2 single-spaced pages. Second, I was a little stressed to get to Spokane with enough time to get an idea for how things worked with presenters, especially since I would be presenting the day of arrival. The push to get to Spokane and the lack of food places along the way left us hungry; thankfully, we were able to take a couple of hours to eat.

When it came time to present, I was still nervous but once I settled in I felt fine. I ended at about 32 minutes, leaving about 13 for questions and discussions. I was not completely satisfied with the way I answered many of the questions. Keep in mind that at least three PhD holders who knew the Gospels well were in the room (Nijay Gupta, Paul Anderson, and Kent Yinger), so that was enough to unnerve me somewhat. I think that the discussion part was most fun for me, and found myself challenged by all the questions—and theirs specifically—but I was also thankful to have Anderson help me out. Everyone provided me with constructive feedback afterward, for which I am grateful. This is a taste to come of the rigors I expect to face at larger SBL meetings. It indeed was most helpful preparation for the future.

Just as important as presenting a paper and listening to papers is the people I got to meet: Nijay Gupta and John “Jack” Levison of Seattle Pacific University; Amy Donaldson, the co-chair for the PNW SBL New Testament and Hellenistic Religions section; and Leon Seaman, an independent scholar doing some fascinating work with dramatizing Mark. I also was able to see Matt Versdahl, a fellow GFES graduate and friend since 7th grade, present on “Koine, Attic, and Paideia: The Greek of John Chrysostom.”

In all, I can look back at this SBL as landmark from which I can proceed into academia with confidence.