SBL Auckland

I’m looking forward to going to Auckland for this year’s SBL International Conference. As well as presenting my own paper, I’m looking forward to hearing quite a number of others, to being able to catch up with friends and colleagues whom I don’t see very often and to find out a bit more about Maori culture. The conference begins with a Powhiri (welcome ceremony) at the Marae at Auckland University and I am booked on the Tamaki Hikoi guided tour which introduces Maori culture. When I was in Christchurch last year on my way home from Texas, I was able to get a tiny taste of Maori culture and am really interested to hear more. It is particularly interesting that there are significant similarities between Maori art and the art of the Canadian First Nations people in British Columbia.

I have found the research that I’ve been doing for my paper really fascinating, if slightly “off topic” for my thesis. The topic is “Eyewitness Testimony in Psychological Research: Some Consequences for Richard Bauckham’s Work.” The work I’m referring to is, of course, his Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Eerdmans, 2006). If you’re interested, you can read the abstract on the SBL conference website.  I didn’t realise just how huge the corpus of psychological eyewitness/memory literature is until I started reading.  You could read until the cows come home and still not be on top of every aspect!

It’s interesting that there is so little cross-pollination between the disciplines.  There are books on memory in oral traditions, on memory and retelling of stories, how culture affects memory, things that psychologists take for granted about eyewitness accounts (or autobiographical/recollective memory) that just don’t appear in the literature of biblical studies.

I know – so many books to read, so little time, but still…

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7 thoughts on “SBL Auckland

  1. Maori are thought to have originally come from Central Asia, Indonesia and Taiwan. The mountain people in Taiwan have strikingly similar facial features, culture (music and religion) and I think some similarities in language. They came to New Zealand 5-800 years ago from the South Pacific islands – I don’t know how long they were there although I read they came from Asia to the islands over 1000 years ago. The incredible thing is that they came in waka (canoes) all the way. And the strange thing is that we know they’ve been here for no longer than 800 years because of the remains of rats they brought with them – stowed away in their canoes! This is what I’ve learned anyway.

    Given what you say, I wonder where the Canadians come from? Possibly the same? Maori have a rich and vibrant culture and a living language.

  2. Steph,

    The BC First Nations people are on the Pacific coast, so I guess if they could get to New Zealand from Taiwan in canoes, they could get to British Columbia, which looks significantly closer on a map. When I was in British Columbia (at another conference) I didn’t pick up any info about whether the First Nations people there were thought to have come from anywhere else. The First Nations people have similar stories about their culture being suppressed etc to those of the Australian Aborigines. The Maori did a better job of negotiating with the European settlers.

  3. Are you suggesting Maori came via Canada? I haven’t heard that relationship before – Maori and “First Nations”. The theory I read is Taiwan – Pacific Islands a little north of here – New Zealand. Pacific Islanders, Maori and even the mountain Taiwanese have similarities in cultural features (and even physical features). James Mitchener had a fictional theory for the origin of the original Canadians. I can’t remember what it was now. It was probably that they came from Asia but I might be muddling it up with his book on Alaska.

    I hope you enjoy Auckland. I’m sorry I’m not going. It’s actually easier for me to go to England and go to the BNTC with my friend because I study there and I don’t know anyone at home anymore. Bad excuse.

  4. Hi Steph,

    No – I’m suggesting that it’s possible that the Maori and the Canadian Pacific Coast First Nations people both came from Taiwan. But I also need to acknowledge that I have no expertise at all in this area, so don’t quote me. 🙂

    I’m going to Auckland because it’s so close. There is no way I’ll be able to afford next year’s international conference which will be in the northern hemisphere somewhere. Next year I won’t be able to afford the time to take a side-track on my research either and there’s no obvious place at SBL for textual analysis of Thomas, which is my real research, so this all fitted together well with some surprise funding money being available from the university. I think your excuse is perfectly reasonable:-)

  5. It should be a bit cheaper for me because I’m in my home town Napier at the moment. But I’m flying all that horrible way back to the UK to go to the BNTC which is probably a more important conference for me (my thesis with Nottingham is “the problem with ‘Q'”), and I get to go with my friends and stay with my friend … but SBL will be fun. I went to Vienna last year and had a ball and a big learning curve. But if you could get down to Napier the art deco capital of the world where it hardly ever rains and when it does, only at night, you could see sights and bush and lakes and coast on the way and travel on down to Wellington and fly back from there – or catch a ferry across to the South Island and fly out from Christchurch. Auckland bears no resemblance to (the rest of) New Zealand!

  6. I did Christchurch last year when I came home from Texas. My brother and his family were living there then and they are now in Auckland, so I’m staying a few days extra to see the area. I’m also hoping to go back in Nov for a chaplains’ conference in Wellington, which would make three visits in 18 months and 3 visits in my whole life!! And lest you think I’m rich, no – scholarships and church study leave provisions.

  7. No not rich – I was thinking more of a straight drive down or bus. Wellington is definitely the best city – art, culture, character – but it’s the in between bits that are breathtaking .. but I was just dreaming really. I wish I could let all the SBL international attendees a taste of the rest of New Zealand. It’s perfect that you have your brother there though.

    It’s silly really but it’s cheaper to travel from Auckland to Sydney than from Napier to Auckland. Unless I hitched.

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