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Founded in 1880, the Society of Biblical Literature is the oldest and largest learned society devoted to the critical investigation of the Bible from a variety of academic disciplines. As an international organization, the Society offers its members opportunities for mutual support, intellectual growth, and professional development.

The Society publishes books and journals, including the Journal of Biblical Literature, through SBL Press. The Press focuses on the needs of biblical scholars and students by creating resources for classrooms and research. SBL Press is a member of the Association of American University Presses.

SBL promotes cooperation across global boundaries by holding yearly meetings outside the borders of North America with sister societies in the host country. The International Cooperation Initiative, which fosters engagement and collaboration with members around the world, was started in 2007. SBL holds joint meetings with other learned societies in North America. SBL has been a member of the American Council of Learned Societies since 1929. Long-standing regional groups organize meetings with SBL members and a variety of sister societies.

SBL creates resources for diverse audiences and uses, such as the Bible Odyssey website for the public and the SBL Hebrew and Greek fonts for publishers and scholars.

SBL Archive collection at Pitts Theology Library, Emory University.
SBL Archive: SBL Women
For an in-depth look at the history of SBL:

Searching the Scriptures: A History of the Society of Biblical Literature, 1880-1980  Ernest W. Saunders 
Also available on-line >>       

Full SBL President List with Presidential Address

The presidential addresses are delivered to the assembled membership at the Annual Meeting of the Society. Since 1895 they have also been published in the first Journal of Biblical Literature of the following year. These presidential addresses have not only provided defining moments for biblical studies as a practice and a profession but also, read together, reveal the growth and development that the Society has experienced since its founding in 1880.

For more information on SBL presidential addresses, see:

2021 James C. VanderKam R. H. Charles and Modern Biblical Studies

2020 Adele Reinhartz The Hermeneutics of Chutzpah: A Disquisition on the Value/s of “Critical Investigation of the Bible”

2019 Gale A. Yee Thinking Intersectionally: Gender, Race, Class, and the Etceteras of Our Discipline

2018 Brian K. Blount The Souls of Biblical Folks and the Potential for Meaning

2017 Michael Fox The Meanings of the Book of Job

2016 Beverly Roberts Gaventa Reading Romans 13 with Simone Weil: Toward a More Generous Hermeneutic

2015 Athalya Brenner-Idan On Scholarship and Related Animals: A Personal View from and for the Here and Now

2014 Fernando F. Segovia Criticism in Critical Times: Reflections on Vision and Task

2013 Carol L. Meyers Was Ancient Israel a Patriarchal Society?

2012 John Dominic Crossan A Vision of Divine Justice: The Resurrection of Jesus in Eastern Christian Iconography

2011 Carol Newsom Models of the Moral Self: Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism

2010 Vincent L. Wimbush Interpreters—Enslaving/ Enslaved/Runagate

2009 David J.A. Clines Learning, Teaching, and Researching Biblical Studies,Today and Tomorrow

2008 Jonathan Z. Smith Religion and Bible

2007 Katharine Doob Sakenfeld Whose Text Is It?

2006 Robert Kraft Presidential Address

2005 Carolyn Osiek Catholic or catholic? Biblical Scholarship at the Center

2004 David L. Petersen Genesis and Family Values
2003 Eldon Epp The Oxyrhynchus New Testament Papyri: “Not Without Honor Except in their Hometown”?

2002 John J. Collins The Zeal of Phinehas: The Bible and the Legitimation of Violence

2001 Harold Attridge Genre Bending in the Fourth Gospel

2000 Adele Berlin The Book of Esther and Ancient Storytelling

1999 D. Moody Smith When Did the Gospels Become Scripture?

1998 Patrick D. Miller Deuteronomy and Psalms: Evoking a Biblical Conversation

1997 Hans Dieter Betz Antiquity and Christianity

1996 Gene M. Tucker Rain on a Land Where No One Lives: The Hebrew Bible on the Environment

1995 Leander E. Keck Rethinking "New Testament Ethics"

1994 Phyllis Trible Exegesis for Storytellers and Other Strangers

1993 Victor P. Furnish On Putting Paul in His Place

1992 Norman K. Gottwald Social Class as an Analytic and Hermeneutical Category in Biblical Studies

1991 Helmut Koester Jesus the Victim

1990 Walter Brueggemann At the Mercy of Babylon: A Subversive Rereading of the Empire

1989 Paul J. Achtemeier Omne verbum sonat: The New Testament and the Oral Environment of Late WesternAntiquity

1988 Philip J. King The Eighth, the Greatest of Centuries?

1987 Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza The Ethics of Biblical Interpretation: Decentering Biblical Scholarship

1986 James L. Mays The Place of the Torah-Psalms in the Psalter

1985 Wayne A. Meeks Understanding Early Christian Ethics

1984 Roland E. Murphy Wisdom and Creation

1983 Krister Stendahl The Bible as a Classic and the Bible as Holy Scripture

1982 Lou H. Silberman Listening to the Text

1981 James M. Robinson Jesus from Easter to Valentinus (Or to the Apostles' Creed)

1980 Bernhard Anderson Tradition and Scripture in the Community of Faith

1979 Joseph A. Fitzmyer The Aramaic Language and the Study of the New Testament

1978 James A. Sanders Text and Canon: Concepts and Method

1977 Raymond E. Brown "Other Sheep Not of This Fold": The Johannine Perspective on Christian Diversity in the Late First Century

1976 David Noel Freedman Pottery, Poetry, and Prophecy: An Essay on Biblical Poetry

1975 Robert W. Funk The Watershed of the American Biblical Tradition: The Chicago School, First Phase, 1892-1920

1974 Frank M. Cross, Jr. A Reconstruction of the Judean Restoration

1973 Norman Perrin Eschatology and Hermeneutics: Reflections on Method in the Interpretation of the NewTestament

1972 Walter J. Harrelson Title and link of address to be determined

1971 Bruce M. Metzger Literary Forgeries and Canonical Pseudepigrapha

1970 Harry M. Orlinsky Whither Biblical Research?

1969 Frank W. Beare The Mission of the Disciples and the Mission Charge: Matthew 10 and Parallels

1968 James Muilenburg Form Criticism and beyond

1967 Paul Schubert The Final Cycle of Speeches in the Book of Acts

1966 John L. McKenzie Reflections on Wisdom

1965 Kenneth W. Clark The Theological Relevance of Textual Variation in Current Criticism of the Greek New Testament

1964 Fred V. Winnett Re-Examining the Foundations

1963 John Knox Romans 15:14-33 and Paul's Conception of His Apostolic Mission

1962 Herbert G. May Cosmological Reference in the Qumran Doctrine of the Two Spirits and in Old Testament Imagery

1961 Samuel Sandmel Parallelomania

1960 R. B. Y. Scott Priesthood, Prophecy, Wisdom, and the Knowledge of God

1959 Robert M. Grant Two Gnostic Gospels

1958 William A. Irwin A Still Small Voice ... Said, What Are You Doing Here?

1957 Sherman E. Johnson Early Christianity in Asia Minor

1956 J. Philip Hyatt The Dead Sea Discoveries: Retrospect and Challenge

1955 Amos N. Wilder Scholars, Theologians, and Ancient Rhetoric

1954 Millar Burrows Thy Kingdom Come

1953 S. Vernon McCasland The Unity of the Scriptures

1952 Sheldon Blank Men against God: The Promethean Element in Biblical Prayer

1951 Erwin R. Goodenough The Inspiration of New Testament Research

1950 Robert H. Pfeiffer Facts and Faith in Biblical History

1949 Floyd V. Filson Method in Studying Biblical History

1948 John W. Flight No address delivered

1947 Ernest Cadman Colwell Biblical Criticism: Lower and Higher

1946 Leroy Waterman Biblical Studies in a New Setting

1945 Morton Scott Enslin The Future of Biblical Studies

1944 Theophile James Meek The Syntax of the Sentence in Hebrew

1943 Kirsopp Lake No address delivered

1942 Kirsopp Lake No address delivered

1941 Julian Morgenstern The Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis

1940 Chester C. McCown Gospel Geography: Fiction, Fact, and Truth

1939 William F. Albright The Ancient Near East and the Religion of Israel

1938 Wm. Henry Paine Hatch The Primitive Christian Message

1937 George Dahl The Messianic Expectation in the Psalter

1936 Henry J. Cadbury Motives of Biblical Scholarship

1935 Elihu Grant The Philistines

1934 Frederick C. Grant The Spiritual Christ

1933 James Moffatt The Sacred Book in Religion

1932 J. M. Powis Smith The Character of King David

1931 Burton Scott Easton New Testament Ethical Lists

1930 William Frederic Badè Ceramics and History in Palestine

1929 James E. Frame Paul's Idea of Deliverance

1928 Loring Woart Batten Hosea's Message and Marriage

1927 Irving F. Wood The Contribution of the Bible to the History of Religion

1926 Shirley Jackson Case The Alleged Messianic Consciousness of Jesus

1925 Julius A. Bewer The Hellenistic Mystery Religion and the Old Testament

1924 Clayton R. Bowen Why Eschatology?

1923 Max L. Margolis Our Own Future: Forecast and a Programme

1922 William R. Arnold Observations on the Origins of Holy Scripture

1921 Kemper Fullerton Viewpoints in the Discussion of Isaiah's Hopes for the Future

1920 Albert T. Clay A Recent Journey through Babylonia and Assyria

1919 Edgar J. Goodspeed The Origin of Acts

1918 James A. Montgomery Present Tasks of American Biblical Scholarship

1917 Warren J. Moulton The Dating of the Synoptic Gospels

1916 Morris Jastrow Jr. Constructive Elements in the Critical Study of the Old Testament

1915 Charles Cutler Torrey The Need of a New Edition of the Hebrew Bible

1914 Nathaniel Schmidt The Story of the Food and the Growth of the Pentateuch

1913 George A. Barton The Hermeneutic Canon "Interpret Historically" in the Light of Modern Research: Presidential Address at the Annual Meeting, Dec. 29, 1913

1912 Lewis B. Paton Israel's Conquest of Canaan: Presidential Address at the Annual Meeting, Dec. 27, 1912

1911 Ernest de Witt Burton Some Phases of the Synoptic Problem: Presidential Address, 1911

1910 David G. Lyon On the Archaeological Exploration of Palestine: Presidential Address, 1910

1909 Henry Preserved Smith Old Testament Ideals: Presidential Address, 1909

1908 Frank Chamberlain Porter The Bearing of Historical Studies on the Religious Use of the Bible

1907 James Hardy Ropes The Epistle to the Hebrews

1906 Paul Haupt The Book of Nahum

1905 William Rainey Harper No address delivered

1904 Willis J. Beecher Torah: A Word-Study in the Old Testament

1903 Richard J. H. Gottheil Some Early Jewish Bible Criticism: Annual Presidential Address to the Society of BiblicalLiterature and Exegesis

1902 Benjamin W. Bacon Ultimate Problems of Biblical Science: Annual Presidential Address to the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis

1901 Edward Y. Hincks Some Tendencies and Results of Recent New Testament Study

1900 John P. Peters The Religion of Moses

1899 George F. Moore The Age of the Jewish Canon of Hagiographa

1898 George F. Moore Jewish Historical Literature

1897 Edward T. Bartlett No address found

1896 Edward T.Bartlett Old Testament Problems

1895 Francis Brown The Historical Element in the New Testament 

1895 J. Henry Thayer The Historical Element in the New Testament

1894 J. Henry Thayer No address delivered

1893 Talbot W. Chambers No address delivered 

1892 Talbot W. Chambers On the Function of the Prophet 

1891 Charles A. Briggs No address found

1890 Francis Brown No address found

1889 Frederic Gardiner No address found

1888 Frederic Gardiner No address found 

1887 Frederic Gardiner No address found

1886 Daniel Raynes Goodwin No address found

1885 Daniel Raynes Goodwin No address found

1884 Daniel Raynes Goodwin No address found

1883 Daniel Raynes Goodwin No address found

1882 Daniel Raynes Goodwin No address found

1881 Daniel Raynes Goodwin No address found

1880 Daniel Raynes Goodwin No address found



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