LXX Reader Edition by William Ross

I have been keeping a secret. Now it’s out. For the last several years, I have been working alongside Gregory R. Lanier (RTS Orlando) to produce a “reader’s edition” of the entire Septuagint. And finally, it’s (almost) finished. It’s been listed on ChristianBook and will be available in November. You are probably familiar with the […]

via Book Announcement – Septuaginta: A Reader’s Edition — Septuaginta &c.



Reflections on “The Early History of God” (2nd Edition) by Mark Smith

The Early History of God  was a seminal work first published in 1990, wherein Mark Smith attempts to construct a history of god. Published in 2002, the second edition provides references to additional work from between 1990 and 2002. His basic goal is accomplished. He does well in presenting a history of ancient Israelite religion which employs relevant Canaanite evidence, demonstrating how Israel was remarkably similar to its neighbors. In time, though, various cultural and political factors led to the progressive establishment of monotheism, wherein Israel become truly unique among its neighbors.

In general, I found the book the be interesting; however, I struggled with getting on board with Mark Smith’s methodology. For example, his book is primarily focused on the Hebrew Bible and extant texts (i.e. inscriptions and Ugaritic materials) in order to construct a history of Israelite religion, particularly the history of God. For many of his claims were based on  Ugaritic literature, employing it as a way to understand the cultural inheritance taken on by ancient Israel, a Canaanite inheritance. In doing this, though, he often resorts to discussing “old traditions” rather than contemporary reflections on contemporary problems. This is a problem because new ideas tend to emerge from reflection on contemporary problems, even if older material is employed. Of course, claiming that older material, like texts, was employed in the case of ancient Israel is problematic because such material is not extant.

For example, he notes that a change in practice “reflect a religious reaction against Israel’s old Canaanite heritage” (146). Similarly, he claims that the language of Ps 29 “perhaps derives ultimately from old theophanic language of the storm” (143). In either case, the idea of “old” is problematic. For while it may have reacted to or been derived from something older, that elides an attempt to describe how the scribe himself conceptualized it. So, for example, did the scribe see himself as employed contemporary language, or maybe reacting against as contemporary concern? 

What this comes down to, then, is less an issue of reference that something is derived from an older traditions; instead, the issue is about the precision of terminology. In attempting to describe what may have occurred in history, for example, it would be helpful to employ a different term than that which describes the origin of such an idea through history. By distinguishing between the two, a more precise construction of the history of Yahweh would emerge.

Concerning the matters of Yahweh’s representation as sun, or the astralization of Yahweh, I found Other Keel and Christoph Uehlinger’s (1998) discussion to be much more convincing and helpful for understanding that development.

Reflections on “Gods, Goddesses, and Images of God in Ancient Israel” by Othmar Keel and Christoph Uehlinger

In Gods, Goddesses, and Images of God in Ancient Israel, Othmar Keel and Christoph Uehlinger provide a thorough discussion of the history of Judean and Israelian religion through the lens of iconography. In particular, they focus on seals because they are “more or less public artifacts and can thus serve as a sensitive seismograph to detect subtle shifts in religious history” (10). Why their approach ultimately yields results that are similar to the Hebrew Bible, the positions and arguments for the history of the region end up being very nuanced.

It covers the Middle Bronze Age IIB up to the Persian period. Although such an early starting date may be questionable for some it is the point at which “we can deal with a cultural continuum in Palestine that extends all the way to the time of the emergence of the Hebrew Bible” (17). Notably, though, he is against using too much Ugaritic material because of the geographic and chronological distance. Even so, the Middle Bronze Age IIB is assuredly chronologically distant from Iron Age Palestine. Subsequently, the logic as to why he is against the use of material from Mari, Ebla, and Ugarit becomes questionable.

As for the volume itself, it is, without a doubt, one of the most important volumes for any Hebrew Bible scholar. The history of religion which it reconstructs is based on dated, material evidence, whereas the Hebrew Bible is a bit more problematic. For this reason, all Hebrew Bible scholars should have a working knowledge of Palestinian iconography. For, as Keel discusses in the introduction, iconography is part of the constellation of symbols which is presented in mythic form. The jobs of the scholar is to describe these symbols. Therefore, by having a working knowledge of iconography, one has access to the symbols within ancient images, which may impact how history is constructed and texts are analyzed.

Reflections on “Writing and Literacy in the World of Ancient Israel” by Christopher A. Rollston

Needless to say, Rollston’s Writing and Literacy in the World of Ancient Israel is a valuable starting point for studies in (1) epigraphy and (2) inscriptions. Essentially, he employs epigraphy as “a window into the world of ancient Israelite scribalism, writing, and literacy” (xv). First, he offers a helpful introduction to the origins of alphabetic writing and how the script became employed in distinct languages (Phoenician script was employed for Hebrew, Aramaic, and Phoenician languages).

Next, he offers a broad overview of the types of epigraphic records, primarily illustrating how inscriptions records demonstrate the variety of ways in which writing was employed in the world of ancient Israel.

Finally, having established a thorough introduction to epigraphy and the corpus, he argues that ancient Israel had formalized, scribal education [1]. Such scribal education was akin to what we find in other West Asian records. Namely, scribes were associated with private families or were state sponsored positions. At bottom, he argues that “Old Hebrew epigraphic data and the biblical data align and reveal that trained elites were literate and there is a distinct dearth of evidence suggesting that non-elites could write and read” (134).

Regarding the sometimes lack of detail in this volume, it is expected. As he notes near the beginning of the volume, his more detailed analyses of texts are available in the various articles which he has written. Furthermore, on the issue of how Hebrew came to function as a national language, that is an issue which Seth Sanders focuses on in The Invention of Hebrew (University of Illinois Press, 2009). What’s more, since this volume’s publication in 2010, much work has been done in terms of West Asian scribal practices and schooling practices [2].

[1] He prefers the term “formalized, scribal education” over “school” because the latter category assumes a model of education anachronistic the Iron Age.

[2] Most recently, see Uri Gabbay, The Exegetical Terminology of Akkadian Commentaries (Leiden: Brill, 2016), Niek Veldhuis, History of the Cuneiform Lexical Tradition, in Guides to the Mesopotamian Textual Record (GMTR), Volume 6 (Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2014). As I move forward, I am working on collecting a more comprehensive bibliography of articles and books on scribal issues.

Review of “The Exegetical Terminology of Akkadian Commentaries” by Uri Gabbay

Uri Gabbay. The Exegetical Terminology of Akkadian Commentaries. In Culture and History of the Ancient Near East, Vol. 82. Leiden: Brill, 2016.

Uri Gabbay is a Senior Lecturer in Department of Archaeology/Ancient Near East and School of Philosophy and Religions at Hebrew University. Since 2009, much of his work has been in the area of Akkadian commentaries. This volume, though, is the first attempt to write a comprehensive description of the terminology used in Akkadian commentaries and how they function.

Like any volume, the Introduction offers a brief introduction to what Mesopotamian commentaries are and how to approach them, for which he suggests three steps: identify the base text (i.e. subject of the commentary), identify motivations behind comments (i.e. textual difficulties), and identify the technical terminology. Gabbay focuses on the third step, which enables one to better understand the hermeneutical process of Akkadian commentators. Subsequently, he offers a brief discussion of important terms: canonical (i.e. attributed to divine authority), hermeneutical technique versus hermeneutical motivation (i.e. methods employed versus solving problems in the base text), and exegetical terminology (i.e. reasoning and exegetical terminology employed in the comment).

One of the greatest strengths of the Introduction is the framing of commentaries not as speculation or expansion; rather, commentaries “respond to a problem in the base text,” both minor lemma problems and more extensive context problems (9). In other words, although signs are polysemous, polysemy is primarily employed to make a text more coherent.

One point of possible contention, though, is Gabbay’s employment of the category “canon,” which he essentially defines as a text which has “an interpretive and study tradition” (4). While “canon” can be productive in some cases, particularly for later commentaries, it seems reasonable to assume that the status of a “canon” would have functioned with various nuances, depending on the period and region. To draw from Biblical Studies, the Hebrew Bible was technically a “Canon” in the 5th century BCE (compilation with subsequent expansion in the DSS and Second Temple Period literature), 2nd century BCE (list of the “official” books in Sirach), and 2nd century CE (Rabbinic period). In each period of the Hebrew Bible’s canonicity, though, “Canon” had very different valencies. By analogy, one would expect the “canonical” texts of Mesopotamia to have similar valencies throughout various periods (Neo-Assyrian, Late Babylonian, etc.). Therefore, “Canon” may be used to describe the base text of commentaries; however, nuances of particular periods must be considered. For focus on these nuances may impact how we interpret the exegetical terminology and comments without commentary texts.

Furthermore, Gabbay’s categorizations of “Canon,” terms like coherence, discussion of hermeneutics, etc., would have been strengthened by including matters of literary theory. By not considering the relationship between his claims and literary theory, a wide gap is left in his introductory material.

Chapter One examines exegetical terminology reflective of the Sitz im Leben. Such terminology, suggests Gabbay, points to a scribal context wherein oral lessons were written by students, to be later combined with written sources. Many exegetical terms employed in oral lessons and student responses reflect the Sitz im Leben as a learning environment lead by the teacher-scholar. The terminology itself is divided amongst four sections: Sitz im Leben of study process, learning environment (i.e. the lesson), 2nd person references, and Sitz im Leben of commentary compilation. Together, his description of terminology related to the Sitz im Leben is helpful for reconstructing a hypothetical learning environment.

Problematic is that Gabbay suggests a hypothetical learning environment on the basis of terminology alone. As he notes later, though, Babylonian, Late Babylonian, late Achemenid and early Hellenistic, and Neo-Assyrian exegetical terminology function similarly in various contexts, different densities of terminology are present in their respect periods and geographic regions (269-274). Therefore, Gabbay’s hypothetical learning environment is an oversimplified model. A nuanced model based on (a) terminology and (b) region/period would have been more precise and useful for future historical reconstructions.

Chapter Two presents exegetical terminology which addresses the meaning individual words and phrases via definition. Such definitions are either equations or descriptions. Gabbay asserts that equations are reflective of the lexical genre, whereas descriptions are reflective of lexical texts and the descriptive genre in texts like abnu šikinšu and šammu šikinšu. Overall, the presentation is helpful, especially for future studies on Akkadian commentaries and hermeneutical methods.

There is, though, one issue. Gabbay’s description of the Glossenkeil is over simplified. He claims in Chapter One that “textual variants are often indicated by Glossenkeil” (75). Then, in Chapter Two, he suggests two interpretations of the Glossenkeil: it separates two equated words or “corresponds to a verbal formula that was pronounced during lessons to indicate the relationship between the terms in a lexical equation” (85). Although convenient for his overall focus on exegetical terminology, the claim is problematic, inasmuch as it fails to provide any evidence or argument for his understanding of how a Glossenkeil functions within the texts. It may be preferable to interpret the Glossenkeil as a disjunctive marker. For, it can function syntactically in such a variety of manners that limiting the Glossenkeil to a single function is may be problematic. For example, he discusses a commentary on Sagig, wherein part of the text reads: “A = water, GUR = return; thirdly: (agurru, “baked brick,” refers to) a pregnant woman” (pp. 182-183;  [A : me-e] : GUR : ta-a-ra šal-šiš MUNUS.PEŠ4). In the commentary of Sagig, there is a Glossenkeil between A and , and GUR and târa. There is also a Glossenkeil between and GUR, though. While it may function to mark some sort of relationship between A: and GUR:târa, it is equally plausible that it simply functions as a disjunctive marker, distinguishing between the two lexical equivalences. This reading is preferable simply due to the ambiguity of Glossenkeilen. For, this reading takes into account the ambiguity of the Glossenkeil and forces one to carefully consider the function of it in its respective context.

Having described terminology which defines individual words and phrases, Chapter Three addresses terminology of contextualization terminology: “a process of discovering or constructing a context that will allow the interpreter to make sense of a lemma that is difficult to understand in isolation or in its immediate context, or to harmonize contradictory texts” (127). Such interpretation takes three forms: specification (clarification o the base text), changing the literal meaning of a lemma, and reasoning (“the process of identifying premises and drawing conclusions” (127)). Terminology employed, then, are primarily “prepositions and conjunctions that indicate the logical relationships between various signifiers” (128). Essentially, Gabbay categorizes the terminology which serves to makes sense of the base text by re-framing it.

As with Chapter Two, Gabbay’s cataloguing of exegetical terminology will be helpful for other studies. And considering the ambiguity of Akkadian commentary series, it would not be particularly surprising to find divergent interpretations of texts and how terminology functions within the texts. Even so, his arrangement is helpful nonetheless.

Although more of a cursory concern, there is an absence to any modern literary theory. Discussion this subject may be helpful in arranging the exegetical terminology and its uses. For example, while discussing the term libbū with textual citations, he references a Sagig commentary, wherein the commentator employs an omen from Šumma-ālu. In doing so, Gabbay suggests that the commentator reinterprets asirtu (concubine) in terms of esēru (to confine), inasmuch as the commentator claims asirtu actually refers the confining of a patient in his bed (p. 133). This method of interpretation is reflective of intertextuality. Closer attention to valencies of intertextuality (i.e. awareness of how a scholar cites material for interpretation) may have enabled Gabbay to analyze exegetical terminology in such a way that allowed one to more clearly see how various scribes themselves conceptualized authoritative texts and their relationship to them.

Chapter Four presents techniques and terminology which reflect awareness of “the nature and character of the text….  The action of interpretation itself and the commentator himself” (169). It is not entirely clear, though, how Gabbay decided what belonged to this category and what did not.

For example, he claims that the terminology kakku sakku (“sealed and shut”) in an explanatory text indicates a relationship between the comb/mirror of a goddess and the Corpse star. Said relationship is supposedly based on a “general ancient scholarly tradition” (179; 180n48). If this is the case, perhaps the terminology kakku sakku should fall under its own category. For, the relationship between elements A and B is suggested to be a general scholarly tradition. So, employing of kakku sakku is more of a reference to previous scholarly tradition than simply a comment on the nature or character of said text. If this is the case, Gabbay should work to expand his descriptive categories in the future, so that phrases like kakku sakku may be more adequately presented.

Chapter Five presents the variety of phrase with the verb qabû which function hermeneutically. Through this description, he suggests that the Mesopotamian worldview understood divine utterances to be present in the form of texts or “canon.” In a sense, this was the “divine word,” began commenting upon in the NA period.

Although the notion of a Mesopotamian “logos” is intriguing and may be a good course of research for future scholars, Gabbay’s treatment of the topic is not substantiated well. First, having focused primarily on qabû in Akkadian commentaries, briefly touching on its use outside of commentaries, any claim for a Mesopotamian “logos” must be substantiated by a systematic analysis of qabû in all Mesopotamian literature. Second, in attempting to paint a broad brushstroke of what constitutes a Mesopotamian “logos,” he does not distinguish between time period and region. As previously mentioned, further analysis in these regards would benefit all of his conclusions.

Finally, the Conclusion reflects on why his analyses matter. First, he suggests that the exegetical terminology points to a strong culture of scholasticism amongst scribes. Second, he carefully notes that, while exegetical terminology illustrate the hermeneutical process, the hermeneutical process may still occur within the exegetical terminology. Thus, Gabbay’s outline of exegetical terminology, and therefore the hermeneutical process, will be helpful for interpreting texts, especially commentaries, inasmuch we now have a better sense of a Mesopotamian hermeneutical framework. Finally, he briefly reflects on the spread of exegetical terminology. In doing so, he provides a summary of how Akkadian exegetical terminology may have developed.

Although intriguing, such analysis of the spread of exegetical terminology via geography, time period, and colophon should have played a bigger part in Gabbay’s analysis. For example, rather than dividing between the chapters as he did, it may have been more productive to categorize terminology by region and time period, subsequently considering the extent to which they informed each other or overlap.

Overall, The Exegetical Terminology of Akkadian Commentaries is a helpful volume for scholars, particularly those interested in Akkadian commentaries. And while he does offer thorough coverage of Akkadian exegetical terminology, this reviewer is left wondering if more substantive conclusions may have been achieved by arranging terminology on the basis of region, period, and attentiveness to intertextuality. Even so, there is no doubt that this will be a valuable volume for the future, especially as studies on Akkadian commentaries are on the rise. For, it also includes two concise and useful appendices on exegetical terminology in divinatory literature and early Hebrew literature.

*The publisher provided a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Reflection on “Grammatical Parallelism and its Russian Facet” by Roman Jakobson (1966)

For those who were with biblical poetry, Roman Jakobson is an incredibly important scholar. For, his understanding of parallelism shaped and formed the framework by which Adele Berlin (The Dynamics of Biblical Paralellism) treated Biblical poetry in her own book. One quote from the article stands above the rest:

Pervasive parallelism inevitably activates all the levels of language – the distinctive features, inherent and prosodic, the morphologic and syntactic categories and forms, the lexical unites and their semantic classes in both their convergences and divergences acquire an autonomous poetic value. This focus upon phonological, grammatical, and semantic structures in their multiform interplay does not remain confined to the limits of parallel lines but expands throughout their distribution within the entire context; therefore the grammar of parallelistic pieces becomes particularly significant.

It is these categories in particular which Berlin breaks down within biblical poetry. In the next few years, though, I do look forward to a dissertation being written within NELC at the University of Chicago. It may help to clarify much of what others, Jakobson, and Berlin argued, albeit with more clarity.

One things, though, stood out to me within this article: oral traditions. Essentially, a 19th century scholar recorded a many Russian folklore traditions and poems. Although many of these records had some variation, it was noted that many of these traditions were extremely similar. Scholars argued that these similarities were due to the usage of parallelism and its dominant role in oral traditions.  Such things are present throughout many modern cultures.

Additionally, they often times drew from parallelism as defined by Lowth. Down the road, it was argued that poetic and prose traditions in the Hebrew Bible reflect an oral culture preceding it. It is this point which I want to address. Without a doubt, the oral traditions of the Hebrew Bible are possible; however, comparison of 19th century oral traditions, such as a Turkish one which goes back to the 16th century, with those of the Hebrew Bible is methodologically flawed. The method is problematic because 2000 to 2300 years separate modern traditions and ancient traditions.

So, while it is possible to prove that modern folklore traditions tend to employ grammatical parallelism, it is harder to claim such a thing for the Hebrew Bible, as did Albright and many other scholars. That said, one must produce evidence and develop a method in order to bridge the gap between modern folklore traditions and ancient traditions, particularly with regard to the relationship between oral traditions and grammatical parallelism.

Cf. U. Gabbay / Dead Sea Discoveries 19 (2012) 267–312 (esp. p. 279), wherein here notes that Mesopotamian scholars had a sense they were the recipients of an oral tradition that allowed them to offer the best commentary on canonical texts.  

Grounds of Being at the University of Chicago Divinity School

cash20onlyAt the moment, I work at the Grounds of Being coffee shop at the University of Chicago Divinity School, a non-profit coffee shop. Unfortunately, the future of Grounds of Being is at risk, especially after the new dean was hired. This is significant because Grounds of Being currently (1) provides jobs for divinity students, (2) is an important social and cultural center of both the Divinity School and broader university, and (3) provides the funding for DSA, a program which provides substantial financial support for Divinity School students in terms of things like travel grants, conference grants, and emergency funds.

Included in the body of this post is an update on the situation from the perspective of Grounds of Being and DSA management. Likewise, please visit this link in order to see how others are responding to the current situation.

News and Information about the DSA/GoB Preservation Committee can be found on this page. It will be updated accordingly.

The Divinity Students Association (DSA) is an organization run by and for University of Chicago Divinity School students. The organization contributes to many spheres of life in the Divinity School, including academic, professional, and social.  Above all else, the DSA strives to foster a true community of Divinity students from every degree program.

The Divinity Students Association was founded in the early 1960s and has operated as an independent nonprofit (501c3) within the Divinity School since 1968. The DSA is focused on pursuing three goals: 1) to enhance student life and research; 2) to foster collegiality and social cohesion; 3) to work with the Divinity School administration in areas pertaining to student needs. To achieve these goals, the DSA draws on two sources of funding: a percentage of your student life fees and the net profits of Grounds of Being, our student-run nonprofit coffee shop. These funds go towards providing students with a number of important resources and opportunities.

January 3, 2018

Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty of the Divinity School:

We write on behalf of the Divinity Students Association/Grounds of Being Preservation Committee, a group formed by a unanimous vote of Divinity School students to advocate on behalf of the Divinity Students Association (DSA) and Grounds of Being (GoB) in response to recent administrative threats against these organizations’ autonomy and continued existence. We believe that the work that DSA and GoB do for students and the communal life of the Divinity School should continue, and that decisions about these organizations’ shared future should be made with the participation of every person in the Divinity School. We consequently believe that students, staff, and faculty should have common access to as much information as possible, and that public fora should exist for honest, collegial conversation about the challenges that currently face DSA, GoB, and the Divinity School as a whole. It was with this intention that we held two plenary meetings of DSA last quarter. It is with this same intention that we now publicly disseminate the following information and invite all faculty and staff to a public forum hosted by the DSA/GoB Preservation Committee on Friday, January 12th at 10 AM in the Swift 3rd Floor Lecture Hall.

In June 2017, DSA and GoB leadership first received word from then-Dean Rosengarten’s office concerning the new University-wide budget system and the possibility that GoB would be asked to pay rent for space currently occupied in the basement. Dean Rosengarten met with GoB managers to discuss a potential solution to the budget problem; Dean Rosengarten suggested at that time that GoB and the Dean’s office work together to determine a percentage of the quoted rent that GoB could pay while allowing DSA and GoB to continue their current activities. In June, there was confusion about rental rates and square footage estimates, and therefore no agreement could be reached. In August, DSA and GoB received from the Dean’s office a rent estimate of $36,943. In recent years, GoB’s net profits have amounted to between twenty-five and thirty-five thousand dollars a year, the entirety of which comprise the only financial support for student resources administered by DSA such as the Swift Cares emergency relief fund, student travel grants for research and professional activities, and funding for student-run conferences in the Divinity School. As no resolution was found under Dean Rosengarten’s administration, the conversations about rent continued into the Fall Quarter.

The situation has changed dramatically since June. During the first two months of Fall Quarter, DSA and GoB leadership held several meetings with members of the Divinity School administration, including new Dean Laurie Zoloth and Dean of Students Joshua Feigelson. These conversations culminated in a meeting on November 16th, which included DSA President Erin Simmonds, GoB General Manager Juliana Locke, GoB Assistant Manager William Underwood, Dean Zoloth, Associate Dean Sandra Peppers, Dean of Students Feigelson, and Deputy Dean Jeffrey Stackert. Over the course of this meeting, Dean Zoloth delivered a series of non-negotiable demands to DSA and GoB leadership including: (1) that GoB immediately adopt the university’s point-of-sale system in order to take Maroon Dollars and credit cards, due to concerns about accessibility and optics; (2) that GoB immediately integrate its finances into the university’s financial system; (3) that GoB pay approximately $61,000 in annual rent and estimated utilities. DSA and GoB leadership highlighted a number of obstacles to enacting these three demands, each of which would result in serious threat to the economic viability and autonomy of these student organizations. Accordingly, DSA and GoB leadership provided alternative proposals and compromises. These offerings were summarily discarded.

Throughout this meeting, Dean Zoloth repeatedly dismissed the importance of DSA and GoB to community life in the Divinity School. Among other remarks, she suggested that it is not her concern that GoB employs twenty-one Divinity School students, that perhaps the school could replace GoB with a different, profit-seeking coffee shop, or that GoB management could personally fundraise enough money to endow the cost of rent and utilities. It was made clear that GoB must come up with the full $61,000 or face closure.

After this meeting, DSA and GoB held several meetings with students and faculty, including a staff meeting with employees at GoB on November 17th, a DSA Board meeting on November 16th, and two plenary meetings to which all Divinity School students were invited on November 20th and November 27th. In these plenary meetings, students voted unanimously to refuse the demands of the Dean’s office and to continue negotiations through a newly-constituted DSA/GoB Preservation Committee. During this period, DSA and GoB leadership received communication from intermediaries that Dean Zoloth had become amenable to a compromise. Through these same intermediaries, GoB leadership negotiated a tentative compromise on two questions: (1) adoption of the university’s point-of-sale system, and (2) the possible integration of GoB accounts into the university’s financial system. It was explicit in these conversations that GoB would not negotiate rent until these two questions had been resolved and that rental negotiations would thereafter involve a wider group of participants, including a nascent faculty committee. In short, after weeks of high tension and concern that GoB would have to close, thus substantially defunding DSA, it seemed that it would be possible to pursue good-faith negotiations with a set of shared commitments to the continued existence and autonomy of both DSA and GoB.

In the last month, however, student confidence in that possibility has dissolved. Further communication with Dean Zoloth and administrative intermediaries has made it clear to DSA and GoB leadership, as well as to this open committee of students, that the Dean’s office has no intention of compromising. While we appreciate the efforts of certain administrative figures to work cooperatively and respectfully with student leadership on these issues, we no longer believe that it is advisable or responsible to negotiate privately with the Dean’s office. Despite six months of continued conversations, no resolution has been achieved and we are left with the impression that the good faith with which DSA and GoB leadership approached these negotiations has not been reciprocated with the openness and fairness we expect from our Divinity School leadership. No tangible progress has been made and we need to move forward.

In the interest of preserving vital student organizations and pillars of our community, we now call for: public deliberation and accountability regarding issues that concern the entire Divinity School; administrative transparency on financial matters pertaining to student institutions such as DSA and GoB; and student involvement in decisions that affect those institutions. Motivated by these imperatives, we, again, entreat all faculty and staff to attend a public forum hosted by the DSA/GoB Preservation Committee on Friday, January 12th at 10 AM in the Swift 3rd Floor Lecture Hall. At this meeting, DSA and GoB leadership will provide faculty and staff with both groups’ financial and operational information. We invite all attendees to ask questions about these organizations and the work they do in the Divinity School, as well as to speak openly about what solutions they believe will best serve the collective interests of the Divinity School community. We hope that this meeting will generate the kind of informed, public conversation that is necessary for making decisions that affect every person in the Divinity School.


Yours in partnership,


The DSA/GoB Preservation Committee

DSA and GoB Leadership