This year’s joint meeting of the International Society of Biblical Literature (ISBL) and the European Association of Biblical Studies (EABS) was held in Helsinki during the last few days of July and into August. Strange to say, the weather was almost unbearably hot. This is Finland, mind you, not Spain. Finland is the country of reindeers and Father Christmas. The hottest thing in Finland is usually their famous saunas. The airport signs even capitalized on the heat wave (hence the title of this article).
And yet, faithful biblical scholars that we are, many of us persisted in wearing the ‘uniform’: clothing that should be reserved for cool autumn days when the leaves turn a splendid brown and yellow from loss of chlorophyll, not because all the water in them has been burned away. But we had to look like scholars; confound the heat!
In spite of sweat stains and glistening foreheads, the conference was a massive success. This was the result not only of high numbers of scholars in attendance, which meant a high number of good papers being presented, but also thanks to the kind hospitality of the University of Helsinki. Indeed, there was air conditioning in at least one room, the beautiful cafe where some of the “Conversations” took place (see pics below).
In the photo essay that follows, I invite you to participate (perhaps for the second time) in the conference, to taste the pure joy of hearing the results of a young scholar’s hard-won effort at expressing new ideas, to experience the awe of hearing a famous scholar articulate complicated ideas in everyday language, to wander the halls of the University of Helsinki and to enter the glorious Rock Church for a spectacular musical performance (yes, that happened).
And if you are bold, I challenge you to fully immerse yourself in the experience by first entering a hot shower fully clothed with your laptop in hand. Only then will you know what it was truly like to be in Helsinki for ISBL/EABS 2018.*
Do make plans now to attend next year’s EABS in Poland, and ISBL in India, and keep alert for upcoming calls for papers from both.
*The editor of the accepts no responsibility for damages caused to the clothing or computers of those following this suggestion. But if you do it, please send us pictures.
Dr. Tavis Bohlinger is the editor of Word by Word's Lecture Hall and Creative Director at Reformation Heritage Books. He holds a PhD from Durham University and writes across multiple genres, including academia, poetry, and screenwriting. He lives in Grand Rapids with his wife and three children.