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Dean Attridge honored by Southern Methodist University

SMUDean Harold W. Attridge was awarded an honorary doctor of divinity degree by Southern Methodist University during May 16 commencement exercises at the Dallas-based school.  That followed a symposium held in honor of Attridge a day earlier, entitled “The Bible in American Life,” hosted by SMU’s Perkins School of Theology, one five university-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church.

In conferring the degree on Dean Attridge, SMU said it was “honored” to do so based on Attridge’s  “contributions to scholarly research, academic leadership and theological education.”

Joining Attridge as recipients of honorary degrees were Alexander McCall Smith, author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, which has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, and Dance Theater of Harlem co-founder Arthur Mitchell. Former First Lady Laura Bush gave the SMU commencement address.

Delivering brief presentations at the symposium, followed by a response from Attridge, were four SMU faculty members

  • Mark Chancey, chair of the Department of Religious Studies at SMU, “When the Good Book is the Textbook in American Public Education.”
  • Jaime Clark-Soles, associate professor of New Testament at Perkins, “Packaging the Word of God: Hermeneutical Habits in Current Bible Products.”
  • Roy L. Heller, associate professor of Old Testament at Perkins, “The ‘Exodus’ in America’s Popular Imagination.”
  • Susanne Scholz, assistant professor of Old Testament at Perkins, “Forbidden Fruit for the New Eve: The Hermeneutics of the Christian Right.”

Attridge taught New Testament at Perkins School of Theology from 1977 to 1985, before moving to the University of Notre Dame, where he was professor of New Testament and then, from 1991-1996, dean of the College of Arts and Letters. In 1997 he joined the faculty at Yale.

Attridge, who serves as the Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament as well as dean, is a distinguished New Testament scholar with expertise in New Testament exegesis, the study of Hellenistic Judaism, and the history of the early church. He has been an editorial board member of Catholic Biblical Quarterly, the Harvard Theological Review, the Journal of Biblical Literature, and the Hermenia Commentary Series. He is active in the Society of Biblical Literature and previously served as its president. He earned his B.A. at Boston College; an M.A. at Cambridge University (Marshall Scholar); and his Ph.D. at Harvard University (Junior Fellow, Society of Fellows).

His publications include Hebrews: A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, First-Century Cynicism in the Epistles of Heraclitus, The Interpretation of Biblical History in the Antiquitates Judaicae of Flavius Josephus, and Nag Hammadi Codex I: The Jung Codex, as well as numerous book chapters and articles in scholarly journals. He has edited twelve books including, most recently, with Dale Martin and Jürgen Zangenberg, Religion, Identity and Ethnicity in Ancient Galilee. He is also the general editor of the revised edition of The HarperCollins Study Bible, 2006.