Dean Harold Attridge honored with festschrift

Dean Harold Attridge was honored with a festschrift prior to the concurrent American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature meetings in San Francisco in November, in recognition of his New Testament scholarship over a span of four decades.  The festschrift, entitled Method and Meaning: Essays on New Testament Interpretation in Honor of Harold W. Attridge, is a tome of over 500 pages featuring articles by 30 scholars.

PresentsEditing the volume were Andrew B. McGowan, who studied under Attridge at Notre Dame and is now warden and president of Trinity College at the University of Melbourne in Australia, and Kent Harold Richards, who worked closely with Attridge over the years on a number of Society of Biblical Literature projects when Richards served as SBL executive director.

In their introductory essay, the two note that the book is intended to draw out many, but not all, of the numerous methodologies employed in critical contemporary New Testament scholarship.  It was published by the SBL as part of the Society’s continuing “Resources for Biblical Study” series.

The 30 essays in the festschrift are broken into three sections: Texts and Method; Context and Method; Method and Meaning. Among them are essays on the historical Jesus, form criticism, the Synoptic gospels, the Dead Sea Scrolls; Gnosticism, Hellenistic Judaism, gender and the body of Christ, the canon, and postcolonialism.

“Its aim has not been an exhaustive representation or description, but an attempt to present the status quaestionis for many disciplines and approaches,” McGowan and Richards write. “One of its purposes in doing so is to honor a scholar whose work encompasses a remarkable breadth of method and content.  Harold W. Attridge is widely admired for his acuity and erudition, which has contributed authoritatively to textual criticism, exegesis, comparative literary and historical studies, and numerous other areas in New Testament and cognate fields.

“He is also a valued and respected colleague whose leadership has made a great contribution to the academy, and the editors and contributors offer this as a tribute, with thanks.”

Attridge’s scholarly contributions have focused primarily in the areas of New Testament exegesis, the study of Hellenistic Judaism, and the history of the early Church.

Group PhotoHis 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; Nag Hammadi Codex I: The Jung Codex; The Acts of Thomas; and Essays on John and Hebrews, as well as numerous book chapters and articles in scholarly journals. He has edited or co-edited a number of books including, most recently, the Harper Collins Study Bible; Religion, Ethnicity and Identity in Ancient Galilee; and The Religion and Science Debate: Why Does It Continue? He has been an editorial board member of Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Harvard Theological Review, Journal of Biblical Literature, and the Hermeneia commentary series. He served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature in 2001.

A Roman Catholic layperson, Attridge began his teaching career in 1977 as an assistant professor of New Testament at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University after earning his Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1975.  In 1985, he joined the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame and was named dean of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters in 1991.   He joined Yale Divinity School in 1997 as Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament, was appointed dean in 2002, and was named the Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean in 2009.

Attridge's reach extends beyond the academy, and his opinion is frequently sought in a variety of public venues —including church gatherings, the popular press, and national television.

He has appeared on CNN’s NewsNight with Aaron Brown, Deborah Norville Tonight on MSNBCand on PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, and he has been quoted in print by such publications as Time Magazine, the Boston Globe, the Houston Chronicle, and BusinessWeek.

A strong advocate of interfaith cooperation, Attridge was one of the principal drafters of the Loving God and Neighbor Together document that pointed to commonalities between Christianity and Islam and that was published in its entirety in the New York Times.

Posted: 12/02/2011