Presidential Voices: The Society of Biblical Literature in the Twentieth Century

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Overview

Since late in the nineteenth century, a nearly constant element in the program for the annual meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature (and Exegesis) has been the lecture delivered by the president whose term concludes with that meeting. These presidential addresses have not only provided defining moments for biblical studies as a practice and a profession but also, read together, reveal the growth and development that the Society has experienced since its founding in 1880. The addresses included in this volume, for example, show how a dominant focus on interpreting biblical texts “historically” gave way to a greater appreciation of those texts as literature to an increased recognition of the role the interpreter plays in shaping the “meaning” of any text. One also observes in this documentary history the shift from parochialism to a more inclusive view of biblical studies, a change in focus from narrow theological concerns to broader social concerns, and the gradual erosion of positivistic assumptions about the objectivity of the interpretive process. The twenty-three presidential addresses collected here thus give readers direct access to some of the key moments and broader trends within the history of the SBL.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (www.sbl-site.org)

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Meet the Author

Harold W. Attridge is Dean of the Yale Divinity School and the Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament. In addition to serving as SBL president in 2001, he has authored and edited numerous works, including Hebrews: A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Fortress) and Psalms in Community (co-edited with Margot Fassler; Society of Biblical Literature).

James C. VanderKam is John A. O’Brien Professor of Hebrew Scriptures at the University of Notre Dame and the current editor of the Journal of Biblical Literature. In addition to editing volumes in the DJD series, he has authored, among others, An Introduction to Early Judaism (Eerdmans) and From Joshua to Caiaphas: High Priests after the Exile (Augsburg Fortress).

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