The 2022 Annual Meetings hosted by the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) and the American Academy of Religion (AAR) is expected to attract hundreds of biblical and religious scholars, authors, publishers, and others to Denver, from Saturday to Tuesday, November 19 to 22. Each year, the meetings focus on biblical scholarship and research, religious studies, and theology.

For academic religion publishers, the concurrent meetings of the two major professional groups of religion scholars is an opportunity to introduce new titles to audiences who love discounted prices and who make decisions about classroom adoption of books. In addition to enjoying brisk sales, publishers are also able to meet with authors, scout new projects, and promote their books to other key influencers during the event.

“A learned society exists fundamentally to serve its members’ professional development, and publishers are critical to that,” says SBL executive director John Kutsko. “We need each other.”

After employing a hybrid online-and-in-person model last year, this year’s fully in-person meeting will include more than 1,200 academic workshops, discussions, receptions, and more. Themes for sessions include “Ethics and Biblical Interpretation: Migration, Climate Change, Violence” on Saturday, and “Reading the Bible in the Context of Covid-19” and “Radical Women-of-Color-Centered Biblical Criticism” on Sunday. The meetings also feature an exhibit hall with more than 130 publishers.

“This year we are seeing a comeback—not quite a prepandemic meeting but close,” Kutsko says. “I think what we lose in a small decline in attendance this year is made up by active participation.”

The ongoing pandemic and changes to college enrollment and faculty jobs may impact the humanities, as well as funding for the meetings in the future, Kutsko acknowledges. Nevertheless, attending conferences and workshops is critical for faculty members who want to keep up to date within their fields, according to a recent faculty survey conducted by Ithaka S+R.

And as he looks ahead, Kutsko, who is stepping down from SBL at the end of the year to join Atla (formerly known as the American Theological Library Association), envisions a bright future for the combined annual meetings. “SBL and AAR have built this conference into a premiere one,” he says. “The pressures on the humanities and the publishing industry means this meeting is more important than ever for everyone—students, early-career scholars, and publishers.”

Kutsko began working at SBL in 2010 “when the remarriage certificate was just inked” between SBL and AAR, which had controversially separated the meetings from 2008 to 2010. He saluted “those who worked to keep this meeting together for the common good and sometimes against the odds,” before adding, “We worked hard at the relationship, and I leave SBL knowing that the partnership is solid and both organizations will continue to prioritize this meeting.”

The scholarly societies have agreed on joint meetings through 2031. Next year’s event is scheduled for November 18–21 in San Antonio, Tex.

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