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Following a week of protests from students and scholars around the world, the University of Sheffield decided not to close its biblical studies department. While noting the program's international reputation, a committee of university officials and humanities faculty had recommended closing the department founded by F. F. Bruce due to staff departures and variable student demand. The Faculty of Arts and Humanities had hoped to reconfigure the department as a postgraduate research center before facing backlash from students who were not consulted. Faculty have now been asked to develop short-, mid-, and long-term plans for growing the department, including new staff hires.

"The vice chancellor has said that he feels the faculty handled consultation with staff and students so badly that it cannot justify a closure," said Holly Taylor, education officer for the University of Sheffield Students' Union. "This is a great outcome for students who, just a few days ago, believed their department's days were limited. The biblical studies department at Sheffield is unique and held in extremely high regard around the world. The work students have put in over the last week to push the university to reconsider its decision is commendable and I hope the loyalty they have demonstrated to their subject, and their department, will be recognized."

Bruce, the noted author of books such as Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free and The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, founded Sheffield's department of biblical history and literature in 1947. But not all faculty have shared Bruce's conservative convictions. Evangelically minded faculty, including Andrew Lincoln and Loveday Alexander, were not replaced with scholars who held similar views. ...

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October 2009

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