International SBL in Vienna, part 1

I’m lucky enough to be at the International meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature here in Vienna, Austria this year. Besides the great Austrian beer, the ornate buildings, and the Ephesos museum (about which I’ll talk later), some of the papers have also been interesting (a few happen to be Canadian), which I’ll briefly mention here.

On Monday we saw Kim Stratton’s (Carleton University, Ottawa) paper on the depiction of Satan in modern film (a topic I have often touched on here: see Satan –but not literally). Kim showed the varying depictions of Satan from more abstract and relatively harmless Mephistos to extremely powerful Satans like the one in End of Days, where Satan seems to be stronger than God in destroying a church, for instance. She suggested that European films tend towards the more abstract depictions and that US films tend toward a more conservative, real, and dangerous Satan. She also discussed the androgynous and anti-Jewish depiction of Satan in Gibson’s Passion of the Christ.

On Tuesday, Ellen Aitken (McGill U.) presented an interesting piece: “In the Mouth of a Hero: Eating Practices and Ritual Utterance in Hero Cults of the Roman Period”. Ellen suggested that the evidence for story-telling in connection with heros in the context of meal practices, namely remembering and relating the achievements of the hero, may provide an analogy for understanding remembrances of Jesus in the context of early Christian meals. She used Philostratus’ Heroikos as her main source for the case study, and it seems she plans to continue this approach in a broader project.

Right now I’ve got to run off to Gerd Theissen’s paper on “Continuity and Discontinuity between Judaism and Early Christianity and the Historical Jesus.” Later.