This unpleasant bit of news from Sheffield has me pretty unhappy (via Philip D.)-
Its undergraduate degree in Biblical Studies and Theology will remain, but administered by the Department of Philosophy; members of the existing staff will be moved to other Departments; and a Research Institute for Biblical Studies is being created (no new resources and a very part-time Director), within the Faculty.
At present several details and implications remain to emerge, and I hope to issue a full report in late August or early September, when there will be an opportunity for any concerned to address themselves to the University authorities. For the moment, however, further information and explanation should best be addressed to Hugh Pyper, the current Head of the Department (email@example.com), who in fact made the proposal for disbanding the Department. He is best placed to give an authoritative explanation for what seems to many a perverse decision. But it must be appreciated that all the members of the Department have been instructed not to comment unofficially on these developments, and might face disciplinary action for doing so. Hence you will receive only an ‘official’ response. For the moment, this will have to do and you are welcome to believe or otherwise what you may be told.
It’s quite unsettling. And just plain wrong. One of the greatest Departments of Biblical Studies has been disemboweled.
UPDATE: Hugh has remarked on Facebook-
Not to my knowledge! Although it is true that the Department as such will not continue in its present form, the degree courses in Religion Theology and the Bible will continue as before and indeed we are looking to increase our intake especially into a Philosophy and Religion Degree. We have been promised a new member of staff to do this and the university has undertaken to maintain the current staff levels. Research is moving to a new Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies which the university has undertaken to underwrite for its running costs and to provide three PhD scholarships in Biblical Studies. I think that funeral celebrations for Biblical Studies at Sheffield are a bit premature. As with all such transitions, there have been a number of points that still need clarification and some issues around staffing where the people are entitled to confidentiality, but I have not encountered any suggestion of a ban on comment.”
The problem is not so much with what Hugh says as with what he doesn’t say. He doesn’t address the core issue- the closing of the department. And who on earth has said anything about ‘celebrations’?
The problems remain and the situation remains very distressing.