The Context Group


1. Identity and Purpose: We are scholars of the Old and New Testaments who, in addition to traditional methods of criticism, employ the social sciences to interpret biblical documents in their appropriate cultural and social contexts. Hence, we call ourselves the "Context" Group.

2. Association: We have always considered our spring meeting during the middle of March as our most important time together. We meet for the exclusive purpose of serving as the peer review group of the manuscripts which our colleagues are preparing for publication. At this meeting members assist each other by offering supportive and constructive suggestions, additional bibliographical materials, and the like.

The Group has also been meeting for the last twenty years at the summer convention of the Catholic Biblical Association. The purpose of this has been educational, that is, we read and discuss each summer a new social science model or topic. Many of us gather still a third time each year at the annual Society of Biblical Literature convention in November. We have established a section in the program to showcase and explore social-scientific approaches to the New Testament.

We welcome association with our group, in particular scholars and students venturing into this method of doing biblical interpretation. Because of the limited number of participants at the March meeting, we may not be able to accommodate all who wish to come. Please remember that the purpose of this meeting is the peer review of the manuscripts of our colleagues.

3. Official Context Group communications: All official communications to the group are sent out through the Executive Secretary. Other communications via the group's mailing lists are considered private communications, though it is expected that use of the list is for professional and scholarly purposes only.

4. Who May Submit a Paper for Review? We welcome papers from scholars who are formally applying models and concepts from the social sciences to the biblical text. Scholars who have never submitted a paper for review by the Context Group are required to send a complete draft to the program director. We also welcome participation by graduate students working at a doctoral level. Papers from graduate students who are being supervised by members of the Context Group may be considered for inclusion in the program. Presentation of a graduate paper presupposes participation in at least one prior meeting of the group. We regret that we cannot accept other student papers.

5. March Madness. The schedule of communications about the March meeting goes as follows. In early September, information announcing the next year's meeting will be emailed to those on our composite mailing list. This communication contains the date of the meeting, invitation to submit proposals for papers to be presented, and a request that those interested complete a registration form. Further mailings go out in the fall to establish program and respondents. Papers are posted and available to be read by registrants between January 1 and the March meeting.

6. Registration: As noted above, invitations to register for the spring meeting will be made in early September. Persons may register without necessarily presenting a paper. It is our experience that only so many people may sit at the discussion table, that is, about 25 participants; beyond that, the conversation about the papers suffers. Hence, in regard to registration, we have adopted from the beginning a policy of first-come first-served.

7. Papers for Discussion: Over the years we have evolved a process whereby all papers for discussion will be posted on our website ( For the copyright protection of the members' work, only those who register will be given the appropriate password to have access to the materials. Those who cannot attend the Context Group's meeting in March, but who are nevertheless interested in the materials may find the papers listed at the group's website, and may contact individual authors to obtain a copy, if the member is so willing.

Moreover, members who are presenting papers at the forthcoming March meeting are reminded of the following expectations. 

Papers will be posted to the website as soon as they are available. If papers are to be read and discussed with profit, colleagues should be able to access them by January 15. Late papers simply will not be able to edited as carefully as those posted on time. Paper respondents are encouraged to distribute a one page (single-spaced, two-sided) version of their response at the meeting. 30-35 copies are normally needed.

8. Travel Arrangements: Participants are responsible for their own travel arrangements to and from the spring meeting site.

Participants are asked to be considerate and arrive in time for the Thursday 5:30 supper and 6:30 pm opening session. Since our local hosts do most of the transportation and check-in chores, we must seriously try not to inconvenience them.

Maintained by the Context Executive Committee
Last edited April 8, 2010