We had an excellent session at SBL and a nice surprise as well: Malcolm C. Doubles shared with us the history of Aramaic Studies in SBL. He has kindly shared his paper with me along with a picture of the earliest members of the group.
How It Began
Malcolm C. Doubles
Visiting Professor of Religious Studies
St. Andrews University, Laurinburg, NC
A Paper Read at the
Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting
Baltimore, Md., 11/23/2013–11/26/2013
Aramaic Studies Section, 11/24/13, 1:00–3:45 p.m.
The Society of Biblical Literature was organized in 1880 and has met annually ever since. Until 1967, these meetings were often hosted by Union Theological Seminary in New York. You may find it hard to believe, but for the first ninety-five years of its existence the Society sponsored no program segment devoted to matters of Aramaic origin. Such items were usually relegated to Old Testament program sections, or occasionally to a New Testament section. I begin this paper with thanks to Ed Cook for his willingness to allow me a few minutes to share with you my memories of how the Society was moved to initiate a discrete program segment devoted to rēbus aramaica. In this endeavor, I am especially indebted to Julia Foster who was involved in this effort from the beginning and who has shared much material and many memories with me.The story begins with the 1972 SBL Congress Meeting in Los Angeles and the person most responsible for our start, the late Bernard Grossfeld who sadly passed away this past July just a week or so before Julia was able to inform him about today’s planned presentation. Between sessions one evening in Los Angeles, Bernard approached Julia and me with the argument that we in Targum Studies needed an organization similar to that in Septuagint Studies. Furthermore, he noted that on the weekend of October 28–29, Gerard Kuiper was hosting a meeting in Atlanta with Julia and the late Shirley Lund to examine some Neofiti and Pseudo-Jonathan readings. Bernard insisted that if I would go down so would he and we could “crash” that meeting for a few hours. So that’s what we did.