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Earliest Christian History: AAR/SBL split

by Stephen Hebert on Thursday - 8 February 2007

in Biblical Studies

Earliest Christian History: AAR/SBL split

Earliest Christian History picks up on April DeConick’s recent discussion of the AAR (American Academy of Religion)/SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) split. When I was at Harvard, this was quite the hot topic since, as I understand it, Harvard Divinity School Professor Robert Orsi was instrumental in this change. Of course, as a Master student, I was even less “in the loop” than PhD/ThD students like Brent Landau (how’s it going, Brent?). So, I could be wrong or misinformed on that.

However, I can say that plenty of professors in the area of New Testament Studies are a bit annoyed with the split. And I am aware of several who have resigned their AAR memberships because they have no intention of attending two conferences every year.

My personal opinion is that this is a bad move on the part of the AAR. I am assuming that they felt swallowed by the massive SBL, and that they plan to assert their identity. It remains to be seen what the AAR will look like without a huge chunk of their constituency.

All-in-all, the study of religion really ought to be a collaborative effort. So many academics complain about colleagues unwilling to work together. The SBL/AAR seemed like a golden opportunity to bridge the gap between different disciplines within the field. Of course, it also seemed like a great excuse to party!

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