SBL – What’s Old is New

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.” Eccl. 1:9 (NRSV)

Today SBL members (and no doubt AAR members, but I dropped that membership a few years ago…) received a letter announcing that the old order shall be reestablished! I am glad to see this happen and I think it is necessary for AAR to survive. I think it will also go a fair way to resolving some of the concerns that folks like Hendel have had. It appears the letter is not yet up on their site, so I will quote it in full below. It also includes the listing of our future conference venues, so keep this handy schedule…to hand!

June 28, 2010

Dear Member,

We are pleased to announce that on June 10, 2010, the Society of Biblical Literature and American Academy of Religion signed a Letter of Intent that outlines an agreement to hold concurrent Annual Meetings beginning in San Francisco in the fall of 2011. These meetings will

  • Occur in the same city—though the venue will change from year to year;
  • Occur at the same time—the weekend before the US Thanksgiving holiday;
  • Feature a single, jointly managed Publishers/Software/Book Exhibit;
  • Feature a single, jointly managed Employment Center;
  • Feature distinct and separate AAR and SBL programs planned with open communication between the organizations;
  • Encourage the organizations’ members to attend each other’s programs and events at no additional cost;
  • Allow the organizations to pursue their unique, if sometimes overlapping, missions;
  • Enhance cooperation, not competition, between the organizations.

The advertising for these conventions will use the city name, the year, and will identify the SBL and AAR as hosts. For example, the first of these meetings will be known as “Annual Meetings 2011 San Francisco, hosted by the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature.” This name will appear on the registration gateway, on signage at the meetings, on promotional materials, and on other common elements.

A Conventions Management Committee, consisting of the Executive Directors and staff members from each organization, is developing operating policies and procedures that expand on the considerable detail that already exists in the Letter of Intent. Each year the Committee will review the most recent meetings with an eye toward making improvements in subsequent gatherings. Nine concurrent meetings are being planned for 2011 through 2019. Beginning in 2013 the organizations will begin operating on a seven-year planning horizon that includes a mechanism by which the organizations can, on an annual basis, extend the seven-year agreement for an additional year. Dates and venues of the first three concurrent Annual Meetings are as follows:

  • November 19-22, 2011 San Francisco
  • November 17-20, 2012 Chicago
  • November 23-26, 2013 Baltimore

We believe that concurrent meetings will serve the interests of our members, will help to advance the many disciplines and areas of study we represent, and will maintain and advance the critical inquiry that characterizes the work of our societies. We invite you to join us in building this exciting new future.


Jack Fitzmier Kent Richards
American Academy of Religion Society of Biblical Literature

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