Society of Biblical Literature

The Society of Biblical Literature, founded in 1880 as the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis, is an American-based learned society dedicated to the academic study of the Bible and related ancient literature. Its current stated mission is to "foster biblical scholarship". Membership is open to the public and consists of over 8,300 individuals from over 100 countries. As a scholarly organization, SBL has been a constituent society of the American Council of Learned Societies since 1929.


The eight founders of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis first met to discuss their new society in Philip Schaff's study in New York City in January 1880. In June the group had their first Annual Meeting with eighteen people in attendance. The new society drew up a constitution and by-laws and discussed several papers. Membership dues were set at three dollars. By the end of the year, membership had grown to forty-five and publication of the meeting proceedings were in the planning stages. The Journal of Biblical Literature was launched the following year.
The SBL was not the first association dedicated to biblical studies in North America, but it was the first that was interdenominational. The thirty-two founding members of SBL in 1880 even included a Unitarian, Ezra Abbott. The society's development was contemporary with increasing interest in Ancient Near East studies.
The society shortened its name to Society of Biblical Literature in 1962.


The Society of Biblical Literature has published the flagship Journal of Biblical Literature since 1881. In addition it publishes the journal Review of Biblical Literature. It publishes literature under the imprint SBL Press".
The SBL Handbook of Style is a style manual specifically for the field of ancient Near Eastern, biblical, and early Christian studies. The SBL Handbook of Style includes a recommended standard format for abbreviation of primary sources in Ancient Near Eastern, biblical, and early Christian studies. The Chicago Manual of Style refers writers to The SBL Handbook "for authoritative guidance". The "Student Supplement" is downloadable, and also contain recommendations for transliteration standards.
In 2011 the society was awarded a $300,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to produce Bible Odyssey, "an interactive website that brings nonsectarian biblical scholarship to the general public".
In 2016, the Society of Biblical Literature published a jobs report in conjunction with the American Academy of Religion that provided employment data from the 2014–15 academic year.

Annual meeting

One of the most important functions of the Society of Biblical Literature, is hosting the Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting is hosted in the United States and attended by the majority of SBL membership. The meeting includes presentation of research, voting on business matters of the society, workshops & seminars, a vendor floor and more. The Meeting consists of "more than 1,200 academic sessions, and workshops, along with one of the world's largest exhibits of books and digital resources for biblical studies, the Annual Meetings is one of the largest events of the year in the fields of biblical scholarship, religious studies and theology."

Regional and international meetings

In addition to the annual meeting, multiple regional and an international meeting are held each year. Regional meetings consist of scholars in a geographic area within North America who promote biblical scholarship on a local level. Each region is coordinated by a scholar within the region and regions promote "Regional Scholars", to recognize outstanding scholars in the area. Society of Biblical Literature regions include: Central States, Eastern Great Lakes, Mid Atlantic, Midwest, New England & Eastern Canada, Pacific Coast, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains & Great Plains, Southeastern, Southwestern and Upper Midwest.
The International Meeting is held annually in a location outside of North America specifically for scholars located out of the region.


Recording Secretary
Executive Secretary
Executive Director