About the Society

What is SOTS?

The Society for Old Testament Study, founded in 1917, is an academic learned society embracing the Old Testament, and its cognate areas such as Hebrew and other Semitic languages, the literature, religion, history, archaeology and sociology of ancient Israel, and the study of the Old Testament in the light of modern literary theory. The ‘rules’ by which the Society is guided may be found here (SOTS Rules).

Although it has an international membership of around 450, it meets in the British Isles, and normally organises annual Winter and Summer Meetings (see Conferences), as well as joint meetings every third year with the Dutch and Flemish Old Testament Society (OTW). Among the publications that it has sponsored is a distinguished series of ivolumes surveying the progress of research in Old Testament studies, an annual Book List containing short reviews of recent publications, and a series of Study Guides.

The Presidents of the Society have included the most distinguished British Old Testament Scholars.

A brief history of the Society (1917-1992) has been written by Professor John W. Rogerson.

Why ‘Old Testament’?

The ‘Old Testament’ is, strictly speaking, the first part of the Christian Bible, which also includes the New Testament. Jewish scholars tend to refer to it simply as the ‘Bible’, or the ‘Tanakh’. In scholarly circles it is often referred to as the ‘Hebrew Bible’. The use of the term ‘Old Testament’ is not intended to limit the lively debate about the significance (or not) about what these texts are called and what they mean to scholars and others today. Papers given at the Society reflect a wide variety of stances and approaches. The Society contains not only Christian scholars, but also Jewish scholars, and those who study the Hebrew Bible on a par with other ancient texts. There is a note about the Hebrew name of the Society in Professor Rogerson’s history.


Correspondence concerning the affairs of the Society should be sent to the Secretary, Dr Richard Briggs (Email). Proposals for new members of the Society must reach the Secretary by 30th June (for consideration at the forthcoming Summer Meeting) or by 30th November (for consideration at the forthcoming Winter Meeting).


The Society is based in the British Isles, and two-thirds of its members are British citizens, but with one-third of its membership from outside the United Kingdom it has a truly international dimension.

Benefits of membership include:

Candidates for membership are required to be competent in biblical Hebrew and should complete this form (pdf/docx), which must be countersigned by two members of the Society prepared to nominate them. Students must normally be enrolled on a PhD programme to be considered for membership. The application form should be returned, preferably electronically, to the Secretary, Dr Richard Briggs (Email).


The Society’s treasurer is the Dr Jo Henderson-Merrygold, Diocese of Derby, Church House, Full Street, Derby DE1 3DR (Email). Inquiries about subscriptions should be addressed to them.

Change of Address

Changes of address should be sent to the Membership Secretary, Dr Janet Tollington (Email), 118 Balland Field, Willingham, Cambridge, CB24 5JU.

The SOTS Archive

The records of the Society are deposited in the Archives Department of the University of Wales at Bangor. In addition to printed materials published under the auspices of the Society, which are normally readily available elsewhere, the archive contains the complete run of its unpublished records up to January 2000 – minute books and related documents. Needless to say, these provide much interesting information on the origins, history, and ethos of the Society itself, but also many illuminating sidelights on the development of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible studies in Britain and Ireland over the past century. Anyone wishing to consult this material is welcome to do so: please contact in the first instance the Society’s archivist, Dr Eryl Davies (Email).