Shame on You, Southwestern Seminary

Cancelling tenure.  Shame on you.  You should have more regard for your dedicated Profs than that.

Update (April 10): Baptist Press reports that trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, have unanimously voted to revise the school’s tenure program—in order to “cease future extension of tenure.”

The debate over whether or not seminary professors should be granted tenure has been ongoing, and CT offered experts the chance to weigh in on the issue last November.

Religious studies experts seeking tenure-track positions need not apply—at least, not for many of the new jobs posted online at the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL).

According to a joint report released by the organizations, which both aim to advance academic biblical studies, the percentage of available tenure-track positions posted online at their websites decreased by 30 percent between 2008 and 2009. And though a 10 percent gain between 2009 and 2010 suggests a small recovery, the overall shift is away from Bible positions that offer job security.

Society for Qur’anic Studies

From SBL-


ATLANTA, May 29, 2012 – The Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) has been awarded a $140,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to support a three-year consultation that will explore the formation of an independent network of Qur’anic scholars. This international consultation will meet to evaluate and frame a vision and mission for a professional organization, namely, a Society for Qur’anic Studies.

“Considering the enormous cultural importance and global influence of the Qur’an, a pressing need exists for an independent and self-defined association of scholars of the Qur’an to do collaborative research and to enrich and inform courses at colleges and universities,” says John F. Kutsko, executive director of SBL and director of the initiative.

The goal of the consultation is to give the academic study of the Qur’an the attention it deserves, says Kutsko, who is also affiliate professor of biblical studies at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University. “By providing more opportunity for research and by bringing more conversation into the classroom, such an organization will also foster mutual understanding and appreciation in the public square.”

“The level of interest in the Qur’an and Islam in the West today is unprecedented. Questions surrounding the Qur’an and its teaching on religious, social and political issues are increasingly raised in educational institutions and popular literature,” says Emran El-Badawi, Assistant Professor of Arab Studies at the University of Houston and co-director of the consultation. “A vast and ever-growing number of websites and online forums are devoted to discussions on the meaning and interpretation of the Qur’an, but no learned society dedicated to the study of the Qur’an exists.”

A Society for Qur’anic Studies (SQS) would play an important role as a meeting place where scholars and students of the Qur’an might present their particular contributions to the study of the Qur’an, while learning from others, says El-Badawi.

At the same time, an SQS would foster the study of the text for its own sake. “The Qur’an is a work of extraordinary importance, both for its witness to the rise of Islam, and for its central place in Islamic societies through the centuries and still today,” says Gabriel Said Reynolds, Tisch Family Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Theology at the University of Notre Dame and co-director of the consultation.

The network will be an academic forum in which scholars from around the world discuss and publish scholarship on the Qur’an. “Participants will be encouraged to share diverse perspectives and cutting edge research on the Qur’an’s language, its dialogue with other scriptures, and the context in which the text arose,” notes Reynolds. “By approaching the Qur’an as an historical, literary and religious text, SQS will demonstrate the extraordinary and wide-ranging scholarly value of the Qur’an.”

“It cannot be overstated that the agenda of the scholars in this consultation will not be determined or directed by SBL,” says Kutsko. He emphasizes that SBL will serve only to provide the logistical support for Qur’anic scholars to foster their work.

“The guiding principle for the consultation is to ensure that scholars of Qur’anic Studies set their own research and publishing agendas, that our colleagues in this discipline have the resources to determine their own future, and that their impact transcends institutional and international lines,” Kutsko says.

“The founding of a new society for the study of the Qur’an will provide an institutional forum for Qur’anic Studies equal to the study of other religious texts and traditions,” says Vincent Cornell, chair of the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory University. “This establishes a base for Qur’anic Studies that hasn’t existed before, and thereby makes an important intellectual claim.”

The past two decades have witnessed tremendous growth in scholarship on the Qur’an, says Reynolds. “An annual academic forum on the Qur’an and related publications will allow scholars from a wide range of disciplines a context for collaboration and dialogue. It also will give students and informed members of the public access to a common forum where they will learn from and contribute to this rich discussion.” discussion.”

Contact: Elise Addington | | 404-727-3111

Scholars You Should Know: David Lincicum

David is a young scholar (even though he looks 15, he is in fact a good bit older) whose book Paul and Deuteronomy is a ground-breaking look at the use of an Old Testament text by an early Christian (and others).  It’s a book you ought to read if you haven’t already.

He’s a very fine New Testament scholar who has done a good bit of work in the field.  So, for example-

Publications and Projects:

Paul and the Early Jewish Encounter with Deuteronomy. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament II/284. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010.

With Martin Bauspieß. A translation of F. C. Baur’s 140 pp. 1831 essay, “Die Christuspartei in der korinthischen Gemeinde…” with an introduction to Baur by E. Käsemann and a translators’ introduction for a monograph in SBL’s History of Biblical Studies Series (in progress, to be completed in 2012).

“F. C. Baur’s Place in the Study of Jewish Christianity.” In Rediscovery of Jewish Christianity: From Toland to Baur. Edited by F. Stanley Jones. History of Biblical Studies. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature (forthcoming).

“Thecla’s Auto-Immersion (APTh 4.2-14 [3.27-39]): A Baptism for the Dead?” Apocrypha 21 (2011): 203-13.

“Learning Scripture in the School of Paul: From Ephesians to Justin.” Pages 148-170 in The Early Reception of Paul and His Letters. Edited by K. Liljeström. Publications of the Finnish Exegetical Society 99. Helsinki: The Finnish Exegetical Society, 2011.

“Paul and the Temple Scroll: Reflections on a Shared Engagement with Deuteronomy.” Neotestamentica 43.1 (2009): 69-92. Also to appear in “What Does the Scripture Say?” Studies in the Function of Scripture in the Gospels and Letters of Paul. Edited by C. A. Evans and D. Zacharias. Studies in Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity 17. London and New York: T&T Clark, 2011.

“The Epigraphic Habit and the Biblical Text: Inscriptions as a Source for the Study of the Greek Bible.” Bulletin of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies 41 (2008): 84-92.

“Greek Deuteronomy’s ‘Fever and Chills’ and Their Magical Afterlife.” Vetus Testamentum 58 (2008): 544-49.

“Paul’s Engagement with Deuteronomy: Snapshots and Signposts.” Currents in Biblical Research 7.1 (2008): 37-67.

“Scripture and Apotropaism in the Second Temple Period.” Biblische Notizen 138 (2008): 63-88.

His interests are

Pauline theology and exegesis; the theological interpretation of Scripture; early Christian readings of the Old Testament; F. C. Baur and his legacy in New Testament scholarship; early Christian pseudepigraphy.

Sure, he should be more interested in the Johannine material (Paul is dull: John is right on) but each of us makes our own (sometimes horrifying) choices.

Read some of David’s work.  I think you’ll be impressed, as he’s quite impressive (and quite a nice person as well).

The Ideal Gift for Most SBL Presenters

It’s designed for karaoke but just imagine the possibilities!  It could be given to the hoard of SBL presenters who are really boring; or really awful singers who assault the ears of congregations around the world; or to each and every politician before speeches they give. All those folk could still tell their families that they presented or sang or spoke but no one else would have to be tortured!

Oh just imagine a world purified of all dreadful speaking and singing!  Paradise!

via Brian Kelley on G+

You Know You’ve Been in Biblical Studies Too Long When…

Anytime you see an abbreviation you don’t think of something normal, you think of something biblical-studies related.

For instance, whilst browsing the latest from twitter- this one from Al-Arabiya popped up and when I saw ICC I didn’t instantly think ‘International Criminal Court’.  Oh no, I thought ‘International Critical Commentary’.  It’s shocking how often that kind of thing happens…

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How Many Women-Folk Will Be Presenting at the Big Biblical Studies Conferences?

According to the folk on the BibleWorks Facebook Page

What percentage of presenters will be women in this year’s AAR, ETS, and SBL meetings? Tyrone Slothrop has tallied this statistic using samples from AAR, ETS, and SBL:

American Academy of Religion (AAR): 41%
Society of Biblical Literature (SBL): 29%
Evangelical Theological Society (ETS): 1%

Not surprising at all if you think about it.  In academics, more women work in general religious studies than in specifically Biblical Studies.  And more women who work in Biblical Studies are not exactly of a conservative bent.  And the few women who are conservative and work in Biblical Studies probably have other responsibilities to attend to that take precedence over conference attendance.

To put that more directly- women who may be members of ETS probably are at home raising families while their husbands attend meetings.  ETS is by its very nature conservative.   Ergo, it isn’t surprising in the least that very few women take part.

It must be admitted, though, that no one is keeping women from participating.  I (frankly) have heard far better papers from women than men.  In fact, I’d much rather hear Maire Byrne or Amy-Jill Levine than just about anyone else at a conference.  No offense, but they’re just awesomely interesting.

After them, I’d rather hear the Brits (Davies, Crossley, Tilling, etc.) than the (for the most part) pretty dull Americans.  And while I love the Germans, gosh, a no-doze is necessary because of the monotonous tone of delivery.  I’d rather read the Germans than listen to them.

The SBL Southeastern Regional Meeting

Is in March (a few months off, I know) but you can register at the hotel for a very low rate of $89 per night.   You can either call or visit the hotel website directly via this link which has the dates and the room rate already selected.

If you’re in the Southeastern Region you’ll know that the regional meeting is one of the best each year with loads of good papers and a great time with old friends.  Sure, you’ll see some of the same people at the National meeting but the setting is much more conducive to easy conversation.

And if you missed the 2012 Call for Papers, here it is.

It’s Outrageous What Westminster Abbey Have Done

Though the Abbey had agreed to host the Sheffield KJV Project display during the upcoming International meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, they have now, virtually at the last minute, backed out!  Leaving the Project in the lurch and desperately seeking an alternative.

And why have they backed out?  To allow pictures of the Royal Wedding to remain on display a bit longer…  Sad.  Outrageous really!

So, please, if you’re within walking distance from SE1 (Waterloo) or Strand, and open to the public, and willing to allow the Project to have panels which are foamboard and measure 100 x 70cm and 14 in number ‘hung’ using velcro dots or suspended from wire or attached directly to a wall with suitable adhesive please contact the Project right away!

And if you’re in London, perhaps you can help get the word out as well?

UPDATE:  A possible positive development:  We have possible venue: St Brides.  Now need stands or equiv to support foamboard panels. Help!

PJ Williams Reviews the SBL Greek New Testament

And he does a nice job of it.  His conclusion-

The real significance of this text is the electronic release of its text with an enlightened End-User License Agreement. For this many users will be grateful. However, the hard copy of the SBLGNT is not significantly cheaper than NA27 and offers no advantages whilst having a number of significant disadvantages.

Certainly correct.

Founder and CEO of to speak at SBL

That should be interesting.

Chris Brady writes: I am very pleased to announce that Richard Price, DPhil (Oxon) will be speaking at the Blogging and Online Publication session at SBL this fall. I had the chance to have a cuppa with Richard last fall in SF and he is a wonderful young philosopher who also has a keen sense of what is happening in the wired world. If you are not familar with it is somewhat like Facebook for academics. They describe the site in this … Read More

via XKV8R: The Official Blog of Dr. Robert R. Cargill

Is The SBL Really Charging People to Use Digital Projectors at the Annual Meeting in Atlanta?

Is anyone presenting at SBL in Atlanta and using a digital projector?  And if so, have you been told that you have to pay an additional fee for the use of such equipment?  If so, I’d very much appreciate it if you could let me know if this is indeed the case.  If it is, it’s really quite scandalous considering the already astronomical conference fee attendees are required to pay (not to mention hotel costs, transport, and food).

I ask because this is the notice that’s been sent to presenters-

The SBL Annual Meeting in Atlanta is fast-approaching and we want to ensure that you have the AV equipment and support you need to enhance your presentation. If you are receiving this email, you indicated an interest in ordering AV materials (LCD Projector or Overhead Projector) when you submitted your paper/abstract. The current rate to order an LCD Projector (beamer) and screen is $25 USD and the current rate to order an Overhead Projector and screen is $20 USD. On September 17th the rates will increase to $75 and $60, respectively. In mid to late October, all incomplete AV orders will be canceled.

Seriously? I have attended a lot of academic conferences in my life and NEVER seen presenters levied a fee for use of equipment. Ever. This, as far as I am concerned, is far more offensive than the Sausage Debacle. I’m simply gobsmacked.

Equally surprising is the fact that no one has mentioned it!

UPDATE: Jeremy Thompson has some thoughts on the matter, as does Roland ‘the colorful Aussie’ Boer.

UPDATE II: Yigal Levin wrote late last August when he first heard of the fee this letter, which he has given me permission to post-

Dear LaTrina,

When I first saw this new demand, I was surprised and unsure of how to respond. So I am now, in protest. As you note, the use of AV aids does much to enhance the presentations given at academic meetings. Additionally, use of AV equipment has all but replaced paper handouts, which are both ecologically harmful and often much less effective. Such use of AV equipment has become pretty much standard, any respectful lecture hall is equipped with a projector and screen, and if not, then supplying them is part and parcel of organizing a conference. For both of the above-mentioned reasons, SBL should be doing all it can to encourage presenters to use AV presentations. Instead, by fining such presenters, you are doing the exact opposite. I do appreciate that there are costs involved, but since the main beneficiaries of use of AV are the audience, who enjoy the more interesting lectures, such costs should be calculated into the general cost of running the meeting, and worked into the regular registration fee which is paid by all participants. Distributed between all of the hundreds of participants, I imagine that the increase in registration fees would be just a few dollars per participant. Until such time as I am informed that the 25 dollar “fine” is cancelled, I withdraw my request for a projector. I’ll make do with paper handouts, killing a few trees along the way.
Yigal Levin