InterVarsity Press Publisher Jeff Crosby has confirmed that the Society of Biblical Literature’s Council, at its next meeting on October 29-30, is taking up the question of IVP Academic’s right to exhibit at the 2017 annual meetings of the jointly-hosted AAR-SBL. That conversation is a part of a larger discussion the SBL Council will have regarding its protocols and standards for exhibitors at its events.
Crosby was notified of this intent to in a letter of October 12, 2016 from John Kutsko, SBL’s executive director, who made clear that it is a question — not a decision — regarding whether or not IVP Academic will continue to have access to the exhibit space.
“I have been grateful for the cordial conversations I’ve had with John Kutsko of SBL, and appreciate the many complexities a person in his role is navigating at any given time,” Crosby said. “For 70 years, IVP has been committed to fostering dialogue and a robust exchange of ideas. All of us who represent the IVP Academic program genuinely hope the Council will continue to make room for the particularity of the discourse that IVP Academic brings to the theological academy via SBL’s annual events. Indeed, the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature gatherings have been an essential component for our academic program for more than three decades.”
“While many concerned scholars have commented on social media and by email about a supposed ban of InterVarsity Press from exhibiting at the SBL-AAR Annual Meeting, IVP has not been banned or limited in any way at the Annual Meeting or for other matters relating to SBL. At its meeting later this month, the SBL Council will discuss protocols and standards for exhibitors and other groups associated with SBL in the context of ongoing discussions involving academic freedom and the disciplinary standards of discourse the organization fosters. Indeed, IVP was invited to contribute to this conversation. Further, SBL was not speaking for the American Academy of Religion, though any protocols for exhibitors would be drafted in conjunction with it. Finally, SBL values the contribution of IVP, and many SBL members have published with the Press,” John F. Kutsko, Executive Director, Society of Biblical Literature, said.
So, what does it mean? It means what we already knew. IVP is being discussed in terms of a potential act by the SBL prohibiting exhibitions at the Annual meeting.
No concerned scholar has said IVP had been banned; but simply that the plan as presented in SBL’s original letter declared that it was the intention of John Kutsko to request the Publisher not be allowed exhibition space in 2017. So saying that IVP had not been banned is technically correct. The fact that the declaration doesn’t say it isn’t SBL’s intention to prohibit IVP participation in the future is neatly glossed over.
Language is a funny thing but if you pay attention to what people say in carefully crafted declarations you can learn a lot. SBL doesn’t deny its future plans vis-a-vis IVP. It simply offers a smoke screen in hopes of persuading people that ‘there’s nothing to see here’.
The fact that Kutsko wrote IVP the following should not be glossed over-
I will request a temporary suspension of IVP’s booth registration for the 2017 Annual Meeting.
That is the key statement. And it is not addressed in the ‘joint statement.