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<< Return to SBL Forum Archive The 2002 International Meeting in Berlin


Berlin provided an unparalleled venue for the 19th International Meeting.

The fragments of the demolished Berlin Wall reminded us of the necessity of hastening the day when the walls in Biblical scholarship are broken down, and we are able to experience a genuinely global perspective in all our research and teaching.

The outstanding museums that house the Pergamon altar, the Ishtar Gate, a special Hittite exhibit, Egyptian artifacts, and the more contemporary reminders in the Jewish Museum were within a stone's throw of the Humboldt University where the meetings were hosted. Notable historical figures such as Frederich Schleiermacher, Theodore Mommsen and the legacy of Nobel Laureates from the Humboldt faculty were clearly visible at every turn in the buildings where the meetings were convened.

SBL is grateful to many in Berlin who supported our gathering. A special thanks to Berlin faculty colleagues, and above all Hans-Gebhard Bethge who coordinated the gathering of students and staff to make the meeting go more smoothly. Prof. Bethge organized a special exhibition of papyri that included a number of Gnostic and Coptic fragments, an original leather codex cover, and significant Septuagint and New Testament texts - including a portion of the earliest witness to the Book of Acts.


The Opening Convocation brought welcomes from the Humboldt University administration along with two outstanding lectures by Humboldt colleagues: Cilliers Breytenbach, "The Harnack-Legacy: Some of his challenges to contemporary studies on Early Christianity" and Matthias Koerchert, "Mit der Bibel nach Babel."

Over 350 attendees from nearly 30 countries were offered diverse sessions. (See the website for full listing.)

Reports from the Bethsaida Exacavations Project of the University of Nebraska at Omaha were given. The Berliner Arbeitskreises fur koptisch-gnostische Schriften and the European Association of Biblical Studies were among the growing number of groups meeting with SBL. A moving tribute to Robert Carroll was organized by Philip Davies entitled "Wolf in the Sheepfold; Robert Carroll and the Bible."

Workshops on teaching introductions to the Bible at a variety of academic levels and social locations were held. Within the workshop a highly interactive session of "Engaging the Text: Strategic Teaching to Enhance Learning" drew considerable interest signaling the first steps at opening new venues for sharing resources and the role SBL might take in partnership with such groups as the Nida Institute of Biblical Scholarship of the American Bible Society and the British based Learning and Teaching Support Network.

Beyond Berlin

Program development and coordination with other organizations has developed under the volunteer leadership of Prof. Kristin De Troyer, Claremont School of Theology. For the first time those persons who will chair program units, much on the model of the Annual Meeting, gathered to organize. These program units will use the SBL Congresses Data System developed by Matthew Collins, Director of Congresses, to review electronically submitted proposals and arrange a program. The IM program unit types will include Sections with at least a portion of non-invited papers; Seminars organized similarly to the Seminars and Groups at the Annual Meeting; and Workshops that provide more interactive sessions.

Cambridge 2003

The next IM will be held in Cambridge, England, 20-25 July 2003. Look for the Call for Papers ( no later than the beginning of September 2002. Paper proposals for Cambridge 2003 will be due December 15, 2002. The Cambridge meeting will be held in conjunction with the International Organization of Massoretic Studies, Society for Old Testament Study (SOTS), Oudtestamentisch Werkgezelschap (OTW), and other groups. You are urged to make your arrangements very early because housing accommodations are limited in Cambridge.

Groningen 2004 and Asia 2005

Final arrangements are being made for Groningen where SBL has been invited by the university to hold meetings beginning on July 25, 2004. SBL has begun to develop plans to work with other groups that will meet in conjunction with the SBL in Groningen as well as other locations in the Netherlands.

Invitations from two locations in Asia have been extended for 2005. It is anticipated that a decision on the specific location will be made near the beginning of 2003.

Citation: Matthew Collins The 2002 International Meeting in Berlin The SBL Forum 3.8(2005)


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