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Powhiri More than 475 scholars representing nineteen organizations and the entire spectrum of biblical, religious, and theological studies took part in the 2008 International Meeting in Auckland hosted by the SBL and the University of Auckland. Attendees were welcomed with singing, a haka, and great ceremony the first evening at a Maori Powhiri at the Waipapa Marae, the Maori meeting house and grounds at the University. The purpose of the powhiri was not just to welcome, but to make the Marae, the University, the land home to the attendees to assure a successful meeting. The powhiri apparently worked, as the meeting was successful on all levels.

The success of the meeting included the opportunity for all to attend sessions arranged by the list of partner organizations below. These sessions were seamlessly integrated into the overall program, providing a unique advantage for scholarly exchange and support. Attendees had the opportunity to hear outstanding papers and discussions on topics ranging from Identity and Gender in Contemporary Islam, to Ecology and Spirituality, and Theology and Violence. The Society of Asian Biblical Studies also held one of its first ever gatherings. Overall the cross-disciplinary dialog and interaction between scholars from all organizations, from both Southern and Northern hemispheres, created an enriching atmosphere in sessions and during coffee breaks.

Special sessions included an address by Kamran Mofid, the director and founder of Globalization for the Common Good. As Dr. Mofid explained, the GFGC is dedicated to bringing theological and religious studies into dialog with economics and business to work towards a sustainable future. SBL’s Vice-president, David Clines, spoke on Psalm 23 and Method. Additional highlights included outstanding sessions on the Bible and Cinema discussing the work of Ingmar Bergman, and a session on the Maori feminine and cosmology from ancient to present times.

PowhiriIn spite of the cool weather, many of the attendees enjoyed the sights and tastes of Auckland and New Zealand, taking in the Auckland harbors and the surrounding country. Kiwi hospitality is legendary, and the SBL wishes to thank our hosts from the School of Theology and the University of Auckland for all of their efforts and support in helping create one of our most successful meetings. We thank our partner organizations for their efforts in creating the program and encourage members to attend.

Comments on the meeting from some of our partners:

“ANZABS considers it a privilege to have been able to contribute to the Congress; and those who presented papers were appreciative, I'm sure, of the opportunity to engage with a wider circle of biblical scholars. Many of the students who are engaged in the School of Theology, and who took the opportunity to attend, found it a stimulating and enriching experience.”

Derek Tovey
Secretary, Aotearoa New Zealand Association for Biblical Studies
School of Theology, University of Auckland

“The conference was a great experience. Both WSRT and United Theological College are grateful for the opportunities afforded us by having it in Auckland.”

Anita Monro
President, Women Scholars of Religion and Theology
United Theological College, Charles Sturt University

“We had quite a successful meeting. It was great to be able to attend other sessions and see other people!”

Kathleen Mcphillips,
Australian Association for the Study of Religions
School of Humanities and Languages, University of Western Sydney

Partner Organizations

AAR - American Academy of Religion

ATESEA - Association for Theological Education in South East Asia

AAJS - Australian Association of Jewish Studies

AARE - Australian Association for Religious Education

AASR – Australian Association for the Study of Religion

ACBA - Australian Catholic Biblical Association

ACTA - Australian Catholic Theological Association

ANZABS – Aotearoa New Zealand Association for Biblical Studies

ANZATS – Australian and New Zealand Association of Theological Schools

ANZSTS - Australia New Zealand Society for Theological Studies

APTO - Association of Practical Theologians of Oceania

Bible and Critical Theory Journal

Fellowship of Biblical Studies

GCG - Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative

NZATS – New Zealand Association of Theological Schools

RHAANZ – Religious History Association of Aotearoa New Zealand

SABS - Society of Asian Biblical Studies

WSRT – Women Scholars of Religion and Theology


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