Annual Meeting

2020 CSBS Annual Meeting

Please note the following message from CSBS President, J. Richard Middleton, regarding the Society’s withdrawal from the 2020 Congress (May 30 – June 1, 2020) in light of COVID-19.

Dear CSBS Members:

The CSBS Executive Board recently convened to discuss the prospects of participating in Congress 2020.  In light of the current health crisis and travel restrictions, CSBS will be withdrawing from Congress, and our annual meeting will not be taking place as previously scheduled. In so doing, we join other associations that have made similar decisions to withdraw from Congress out of an abundance of caution, in the interests of the well-being of their members, and for the sake of public health.

Members who have had papers accepted for the 2020 meeting will have an opportunity to present next year at the 2021 meeting, and winners of the student essay prizes will have their papers/presentations included in the schedule for the 2021 meeting as well.  Current book award committee members will be receiving more time to evaluate submissions, and announcements for winners of the awards will be made in Fall 2020.  For members who have already registered for Congress, please see the Congress COVID-19 website about a refund of your registration fees.

Since we will not be holding an AGM this year, the nominees for executive committee positions will stand as pro tem appointments until the 2021 AGM, when members present will be able to cast a vote.  The Executive Board has discussed provisions for the 2021 meeting, and will provide updates and details to the CSBS membership in due course.

The Executive Board shares your disappointment at this unfortunate but necessary turn of events, and we wish the best to all members of CSBS during this stressful and difficult time.

Sincerely,  J. Richard Middleton, CSBS President

Call for Papers: General Programme

The deadline for paper proposals to the general programme, seminars, and special sessions is January 15, 2020. All proposals can be made in the members login area. Unless otherwise stated by seminar or special session organizers, all presenters are given 30 minutes of time for the paper and discussion. The final program is posted online following its approval by the Executive in February. Questions about program planning and requirements should be directed to the CSBS Program Coordinator. For questions regarding seminars or special sessions, please contact the Chairs directly.

A complete proposal must include the following items:

  • First and last names of presenter(s).
  • Institutional affiliation of presenter(s), if applicable.
  • Title and abstract of paper (approx. 100 words).
  • Audio-visual requirements.

In addition to submissions to the general programme, members are invited to consider proposals to the seminars and special sessions below.


The following seminars and special sessions are active. Proposal guidelines for new seminars or sessions as well as PDFs of advance papers are found in the member login area.

“Early Christianity, Early Judaism and the Study of Religion”

Chairs: William Arnal and Erin Vearncombe.

This seminar explores ways in which early Christianity and Judaism and the wider study of religion might fruitfully interact. This year, the seminar’s final year, we are planning two sessions, one by invitation, and the other comprised of proposals submitted in response to this call. Both sessions will share the same thematic focus, one that emerged from the background of last year’s sessions on comparison; namely, the issue of human universals, durable cross-cultural patterns of behavior and/or thought, and the viability of ideal types.

Relevant papers could address this topic directly in a broad way (“there are/are not human universals and this is how this affects the study of religion in antiquity”); or in a more focused way (“this is one human universal I’m interested in and here’s how this impinges on our field”); or even in very precise ways (“this very specific topic/text/passage interests me, and this is how it bears on or reflects my understanding of human universals”).

“Emotion and Affect in Mediterranean Antiquity”

Chairs: Colleen Shantz, Maia Kotrosits, and Richard Ascough.

This seminar attempts to characterize, log, differentiate, and interpret the vicissitudes of felt experience in antiquity, as this experience is tied into biological, social, and cultural conditions. In addressing felt experience, which is typically taken for granted if not entirely neglected in historical work, we hope to identify new possibilities for understanding the literature and social worlds of the ancient near east and Mediterranean basin. Our goal is to go further than simply collating instances of named emotions, or creating intellectual histories for felt experience in antiquity.

In other words, the seminar will use feeling and experience (which affect and its attendant theories address) as platforms to stage to more thoroughgoing historical inquiries: how personal and impersonal forces and factors collide in ancient literature and social life, how cognitive and biological factors might interact with social forces and products, and how experiences of all kinds appear on – or disappear from – more official historical registers. How do we capture experience? What might theories of affect and emotion offer that traditional tools and methods of historical inquiry have left out or left unaddressed? How might attention to affect and emotion fill out our pictures of the ancient world, and biblical and related literatures within it?

Special Sessions

“Course Changes and Trajectories in Twentieth-Century Scholarship on Early Christianity”

Chairs: Greg Fewster and John Marshall.

What was the most influential twentieth-century contribution to the study of formative Christianity? The nineteenth century is widely regarded as a seminal period for the historical and critical study of early Christianity and the New Testament, establishing many of our field’s most fundamental questions and methods. From Albert Schweizer’s famous evaluations of the study of the historical Jesus and Paul to Rudolph Bultmann’s program of existential demythologizing, scholars persistently and fruitfully look to our forebears with critical and historiographical eyes. It has now been 20 years since the turn of the twenty-first century, high time to reflect upon the many advances made in the previous century.

In this one-year special session of the CSBS, we seek to facilitate such reflection on the scholarship of the twentieth century with a panel of papers of approximately 20 minutes. These papers will each make a case in favour of a particular article or essay being the most influential article-length contribution to the study of formative Christianity in the twentieth century.

Proposals may focus on contributions made within a particular data-set, sub-field, or theoretical approach. These may include (but are not limited to): the Synoptic Problem, textual criticism of the New Testament, New Testament Apocrypha, archeological/papyrological discoveries, the Pauline epistles, Historical Jesus, and social-scientific, feminist, or post-colonial criticisms. Such contributions, however, should be addressed in terms of their relationship to the larger field: the study of formative Christianity.

Papers should accomplish the following three elements: (1) address the intellectual environment of the selected article; (2) provide a brief summary of the argument; and (3) attend to the aftermath of its influence in the discipline. Accordingly, proposals should gesture to each of these three elements, along with the bibliographical information of the selected article. Presentation papers will not be pre-circulated. Rather, participants will be encouraged to read those articles offered up as candidates for “the most influential article.”

“Paideia and the Study of Jewish and Christian Texts in Late Antiquity” – Joint Session with the Canadian Society of Patristic Studies

Chair: Agnes Choi.

This panel invites submissions that examine and illuminate issues of education, reading practices, and book culture among Jews and Christians in late antiquity (ca. 100–400 CE). Along these lines, papers that seek to elucidate the relationship between classical paideia and Jewish and Christian hermeneutics and interpretation are also welcome. Papers accepted for this panel will be posted two weeks prior to the session; authors will have 10 minutes to summarize their papers followed by 20 minutes of group discussion.