2021 Report of the Assistant Secretary for International Initiatives

As noted in last year’s report, Covid 19 has paused much of our activity. In July last year I contacted members from our regions to learn how they were coping with Covid. As expected, responses indicated extensive use of on-line platforms for teaching, use of on-line research resources, but also the disadvantage of not being able to travel to major research libraries underlining all the more the importance of our seeking to support biblical libraries. On the positive side, on-line conferences have made participation possible for some who might find attendance otherwise too costly or difficult.

Collaboration, support and mentoring among colleagues, including assistance with access to resources is all the more important. The sponsorship program this year was limited to covering registration costs but return to its usual pattern in coming years. We encourage members to engage actively in nominating others for membership from across the regions.

Electronic Library Access: Stellenbosch University

The arrangement with Stellenbosch University through the Department of Old and New Testament (DONT) as part of its Faculty of Theology continues to make it possible for approved scholars who work in contexts where they have limited access to library resources to become Research Associates and so have access to its electronic library collection. The following provisions apply.

  1. Applications for access are to be sent initially to the Assistant Secretary for International Initiatives who forwards the names of supported nominations to DONT.
  2. DONT then makes contact with the applicant outlining the required information for the processing of the application and providing detail of the provisions briefly summarised below.
  3. Research Associates
  4. are expected to endeavour to publish on average at least one article per year in an accredited journal, volume of collected essays, or other recognised contribution in the field of New Testament studies, listing Stellenbosch University as (one of their) academic address(es), and informing DONT about the publication.
  5. gain access to funds generated by their approved research outputs from which they may seek approval for expenditure on research costs, including the annual fee 
  6. pay an annual fee to retain their access, currently R961 + VAT R163.37 = R1124.37 (South African Rand) = ca USD $78.
  7. Where a scholar because of financial constraints cannot pay the initial fee for the first year she/he may apply to SNTS through the Associate Secretary for International Initiatives for assistance. Fees for subsequent years should be paid by the scholar thorough funds generated by publications.

Regional Liaison Committees

African Liaison Committee

1. Meetings

The 18th meeting of SNTS Africa Liaison Committee / Institute for Biblical Scholarship in Africa was held online on 26 September 2020. Papers presented included

“Narrative Readings” (Olubiyi Adewale)

“Hearing typology, reader response method and intercultural hermeneutics” (Oderinde)

“Intercultural Frames of Bible Translation Ownership in DR Congo” (Jean-Claude Loba Mkole).

The 19th meeting took place on 29 May 2021. The following are the papers that were presented:

“The Translation and Interpretations of Baptizontes [Matt 28:19] in Some Ghanaian Mother Tongue Bibles” (Jonathan Edward Tetteh Kuwornu-Adjaottor)

“An African Reading of Ephesians 6:10-20: A Four-Legged Stool Model” (Victor Lonu Budha)

“An African Communal Reading of Work Exhortations in the Thessalonian Correspondence” (Gift Mtukwa)

“Ecojustice Hermeneutics of Paul’s Letter to the Romans” (Jean-Claude Loba Mkole)

2. Future Development

The Western Africa section of SNTS-African Liaison Committee/Institute for Biblical Scholarship in Africa (IBSA) is scheduled to be launched on 10 July 2021 during an online meeting. IBSA promotes New Testament Studies, Old Testament Studies and Bible Translation Studies. The proposed meeting of IBSA West Africa is expected to be attended by about 80 scholars coming from Ghana and Nigeria.

Asia Pacific Liaison Committee

In the year of 2020/21, Covid dominated many aspects, especially in the Asian region. The Committee had planned to have a conference in Hiroshima, Japan, October 2020 and had many potential participants, but then had to cancel. There were no further specific activities in this year.

Eastern Europe Liaison Committee

1. Conferences

All face-to-face conferences planned for 2020/21 had to be cancelled due to restrictions because of Covid. The ‘executive’ leaders of the EELC (Niebuhr, Karakolis, Nicklas) met via Zoom and an official EELC business meeting via Zoom was held on 22 January, 2021. Plans were discussed for a possible international symposium in 2022 and a preparatory trip planned for summer 2021, with a view to presenting a proposal to the committee. Planned regional conferences for 2022 were discussed including the possibility of a third conference on the gospels in Moscow, based on Luke, co-organized by the EELC and the Aspirantura/Doktorantura.

2. Digital meetings for Emerging scholars.

A first digital meeting for Emerging Scholars from Eastern Europe, a major new development, was held on 12 June, 2021. The conference entitled “Beyond Canon” was initiated and organized by Tobias Nicklas from Regensburg, assisted by Marko Jovanovic and the Regensburg Research Centre for Advanced Studies. The full-day electronic meeting was attended by about 20 participants. Five research papers were presented and discussed, together with much informal conversation during breaks and after the official end of the meeting. A second meeting following the same model is planned for December, 2021. EELC members are invited to attend the meetings and act as consultants. They are also encouraged to invite emerging scholars from their own countries to present their research at one of the following digital conferences. The format of digital meetings hopefully will be developed further to offer a platform of regular as well as informal communication between biblical scholars from different regions in Eastern Europe.

3. Libraries

During the last twelve months several collections of used scholarly books have been offered, as donations or legacies, to the EELC to be made available for the Biblical Libraries in St. Petersburg, Sofia, Belgrade, and other Eastern European centres. Of particular note is the donation by publishers, Mohr Siebeck of Tübingen, of hundreds of books belonging to their series WUNT, FAT, StAC and others, that had been used before only for their digitalization program.

4. Publications

The WUNT volumes of the Seventh International East-West Symposium of Biblical scholars in Moscow 2016 and of the Conference on Matthew in Moscow 2018 have appeared in 2020 (History and Theology in the Gospels. Seventh International East-West Symposium of New Testament Scholars, Moscow, September 26 to October 1, 2016, editor Karl-Wilhelm, Niebuhr, Tobias Nicklas, Mikhail Seleznev, WUNT 447, Tübingen 2020) and 2021 (The Gospel of Matthew in its Historical and Theological Context. Papers from the International Conference in Moscow, September 24 to 28, 2018, editor Karl-Wilhelm, Niebuhr, Mikhail Seleznev, William R. G. Loader, WUNT 459, Tübingen 2021).

The WUNT volume of the Eighth International East-West Symposium of Biblical scholars in the Caraiman monastery (Romania) 2019 is in preparation for publication in 2021 or 2022 (editor Cosmin Pricop).

The volume of the Biblical conference on the reception of the Old Testament in the New is due to appear in the Bibliotheca Biblica Series Sofia in 2021 (editor Ivaylo Naydenov).

Last year the Committee had prepared a pre-conference meeting in Rome with the International Centre for Missionary Animation (CIAM), at Urbaniana University, Rome, for which also financial support was being made available for 10 members. Unfortunately, it could not take place because of Covid. There remains interest in having such a pre-conference at a future next SNTS meeting, such as in Rome, 2023. The Committee had programmed a regional meeting in Brazil, with an invitation probably in Sao Paulo, but the current situation has not permitted it.

William Loader, Assistant Secretary for International Initiatives, July 2021