On Monday I posted a few photos taken around sunrise at Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, but the morning was filled with a ghostly fog, leaving the deadfall stark, though no less beautiful, as if drawn in black and white.

Tuesday morning the skies were mostly clear and it was as if God had filled in the paint-by-numbers picture with glowing color.

What a difference a day can make.

A few days later, the Baptists Today staff retreat is history and I’m sitting in a hotel room in Baltimore, watching the sun crest the buildings outside my window. The Society of Biblical Literature meeting is here (along with the American Academy of Religion), and trying to decide which of four really intriguing sessions I want to go to most.

Will it be Assyriology and the Bible, where I can hear a paper on “The Intellecutal Content of Ludlul-bel-Nemeqi,” or Prophetic Texts and Their Ancient Contexts, where “On the Location of Divinatory Dreams in Biblical and Ugaritic Narrative” sounds really interesting?

But wait, there’s more! The section on Social Science and the Interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures includes the delightful title “Penurious Penman or Scriveners of Scions? Reconsidering the Social Classes of Biblical Hebrew Writers in an Ancient Near Eastern Context.”

That could light a fire. But I’m leaning toward a less pleasant, though important subject. A section on the Use, Influence, and Impact of the Bible is discussing “Biblical ‘Genocide’ in Biblical Scholarship.” The Hebrew Bible contains multiple stories that claim God ordered the Israelites to exterminate other peoples, and that’s always been troubling to me. So, a paper like “Canaanite Genocide and Biblical Scholarship: The Danger of Justifying Wholesale Slaughter in the Old Testament” has a particular appeal.

The good news is, that’s just the morning session. In the afternoon, I’ll have even more mind-prickling sessions to choose from.

Isn’t this the way you’d love to spend your Saturday?

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