Dec. 8, 2009
Dr. Carol Newsom, Charles Howard Candler professor of Old Testament at Candler School of Theology, received an honorary doctorate from the University of Copenhagen on Nov. 12, and in the same month was elected president-elect of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL).
The Copenhagen faculty selected Newsom to receive the honorary doctorate in acknowledgment of her body of academic work. The invitation to receive the degree noted her accomplishments in Old Testament theology and her "innovative" work on the Dead Sea Scrolls, some 900 ancient texts discovered in caves near Qumran on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. As part of her doctoral work, Newsom transcribed, translated and wrote a commentary on a set of texts called the "Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice."
"These turned out to be a set of quasi-mystical songs in which the Qumran community joined themselves in mystical worship with the angelic priests who serve in the heavenly temple," Newsom explained. "These were very important texts, and other scholars in New Testament and Jewish studies have found them to be very fruitful for comparative purposes for their own research."
Newsom's current research focuses on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Wisdom tradition, the book of Daniel, and apocalyptic literature. She is the author of The Book of Job: A Contest of Moral Imaginations (Oxford University Press, 2003).
Newsom is humble in discussing the award, saying the university could have honored any number of other scholars.
"When one accepts an honor of this sort, it is important to remember that it is not so much about one's own work in particular that you receive the honor," she noted. "Rather, you receive the honor as an example of the many people who are doing similar work. You are representing a type of scholarship. And that is how I understand this recognition."
On November 22, Newsom was chosen president-elect of the Society of Biblical Literature during their annual meeting in New Orleans. She will serve as vice-president of the 8,500-member organization in 2010 and as president in 2011.
Writing of Newsom's SBL election in an e-mail to faculty, Candler Dean Jan Love said, "This is an extraordinary recognition of Carol's remarkable scholarly contributions to the field and her excellent leadership skills."