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<< Return to SBL Forum Archive Twenty-Fifth Anniversary International Meeting - Vienna 2007

The congress, hosted by the University of Vienna, 22-26 July, brought together over 800 registrants from 43 countries, who participated in over 175 sessions.

The night before the opening session, a concert of Hebrew, Afrikaans, and German Psalms was held with the Kantoralensemble Wien, conducted by Rami Langer, and the renowned singer Johan Botha, who regularly appears with the Metropolitan Opera New York and the Vienna State Opera. A series of special academic sessions and performances surrounding the theme of the Bible and music were presented. One of the highlights was the Tish B'Av celebration at the Jewish Museum Vienna.

The opening lecture, "When Poverty Undermines Thinking: An Aspect of Biblical Reflection," by Dean James Alfred Loader of the University of Vienna Protestant faculty introduced the theme of the Bible and Poverty that ran throughout the congress. In addition, special academic sessions were held honoring the contributions of James Barr (1924-2006), Mary Douglas (1921-2007), and Brevard Childs (1923-2007). Sessions featuring biblical scholarship of central and eastern European scholarship were scattered throughout the program and brought new voices to the conversations. Over 25 of these scholars were given support by the SBL for travel, housing, and registration.

In addition to the usual outstanding Vienna museums, a special exhibit at the Austrian National Library Papyrus Museum showcased 24 papyri, potsherds, and wooden boards of Old and New Testament from their 180,000-piece collection. Tours available to congress attendees included an excursion through Vienna focusing on "Christians and Jews in Past and Present," excavations of a medieval synagogue, and two exhibits in the magnificent St. Stephan's church: "Fire and Spirit: The Fantastic Spiritual World of the Painter Ernest Fuchs"; and "Women and Daily Life in Ancient Israel."

Throughout the congress, many student attendees gathered in the student lounge made available for them. In addition, a number of papers were read by student participants, including the following from SBL staff interns: Diane E. Curtis (Emory University), "'Searching the Scriptures' for Sisters: A History of Women in the Society of Biblical Literature"; and Douglas Watson (Emory University), "Cosmology and Judgment: The Function of Space in 1 Enoch 17-19."

Special evening lectures included the following: Beverly Gaventa (Princeton Theological Seminary), "What is Romans Good For? A Reconsideration of Paul's Apocalpytic Theology"; Felecia Waldman (University of Bucharest), "Poverty and Charity in Jewish Tradition"; David Noel Freedman (University of California-San Diego), "The Numbers Game"; Bernhard Palme (University of Vienna), "Poverty in Documentary Papyri in Ancient Egypt and the Ancient Near East"; Jodi Magness (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), "Was the Holy Grail a Stone Cup?" The Bible, Religion, and Film Section sponsored a panel and film presentation on the 2006 ABC and Hallmark Entertainment production The Ten Commandments.

The SBL is especially grateful for the support of the University of Vienna staff, faculty, administration, and students; the program unit chairs; the many members who contributed their research and responses in the sessions; the 16 exhibitors; and our two Platinum Sponsors, Baylor University Press and Peeters Publishers.

Make your plans to attend the 2008 International Congress in Auckland, New Zealand, 6-10 July, where over fifteen other organizations will meet together with the SBL.

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