Pitts Theology Library Has Acquired SBL’s Archives

Candler’s Pitts Theology Library has acquired the archives of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), the oldest and largest learned society devoted to the critical investigation of the Bible. The acquisition establishes Pitts as SBL’s official institutional repository and positions the library as a center for research on the development of the field of biblical studies.

Founded in 1880, SBL includes scholars from a wide variety of academic disciplines: biblical studies, history, literature, archaeology, anthropology, theology, and sociology, among others. It is international in reach, with 8,417 members from 96 countries.

The society’s archives provide a comprehensive history of the field of academic biblical studies, according to SBL Executive Director John F. Kutsko.

“SBL’s institutional age is older than the learned societies of many peer disciplines, which reflects the premier position biblical studies and theology held in universities in the 19th century and earlier,” he says. “Because of that past, the SBL archives don’t just record the history of the institution, but also the history of the modern, critical study of the Bible and its cognate literatures, cultures, and history of interpretation.”

Previously housed at Drew Theological School in New Jersey, the archives arrived at Pitts in mid-February. They include 445 document boxes, 2,345 volumes of books, journals, and meeting program books, administrative records, committee minutes, correspondence, and publications, including books published by SBL as well as the society’s quarterly publication, the Journal of Biblical Literature. The archives will be augmented annually as the society’s history continues to grow.

“We’re delighted to strengthen our connection to SBL in this way,” says Richard Manly “Bo” Adams Jr., director of Pitts Theology Library and Margaret A. Pitts Assistant Professor in the Practice of Theological Bibliography. “This acquisition positions Pitts as a global center for the study of the history and sociology of the field of biblical studies. We look forward to organizing and digitizing this important collection to make the archives accessible to researchers around the world.”