Harold W. Attridge appointed first Henry L. Slack Dean of Yale Divinity School
Harold W. Attridge has been appointed as the first Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean of Yale Divinity School (YDS). The new endowed deanship was created through a $5 million gift from Robert L. McNeil, Jr. ’36S in honor of his grandfather, an 1877 graduate of the Divinity School and a leader of the Congregational Church in Connecticut.
In acknowledging the donor’s generosity, Yale President Richard C. Levin said creation of the Henry L. Slack Deanship will ensure “the continuity of strong leadership at the School, for now and for future generations” and will underscore the “commitment to core principles of scholarship that have guided Yale Divinity School from its very inception.”
Attridge also expressed gratitude for the gift. “Mr. McNeil’s extraordinary gift comes at a critical time in the life of Yale Divinity School,” said Attridge. “Endowing the deanship will enable YDS to continue to recruit excellent leadership for the School.
“Naming the deanship in memory of Mr. McNeil’s grandfather, the Reverend Henry L. Slack, who devoted his life to pastoral ministry, reminds us of the core mission of the School, to educate the dedicated pastors who will lead the church in the next generation,” said Attridge.
Attridge is a distinguished New Testament scholar with expertise in New Testament exegesis, the study of Hellenistic Judaism, and the history of the early church. His publications include Hebrews: A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, First-Century Cynicism in the Epistles of Heraclitus, The Interpretation of Biblical History in the Antiquitates Judaicae of Flavius Josephus, and Nag Hammadi Codex I: The Jung Codex, as well as numerous book chapters and articles in scholarly journals. He has edited twelve books including, most recently, Religion, Ethnicity and Identity in Ancient Galilee (with Dale Martin and Jürgen Zangenberg). He is also the general editor of the revised edition of The HarperCollins Study Bible, 2006.
Attridge has been an editorial board member of Catholic Biblical Quarterly, the Harvard Theological Review, the Journal of Biblical Literature, and the Hermeneia Series. He is active in the Society of Biblical Literature and previously served as its president. He earned his B.A. at Boston College; an M.A. at Cambridge University (Marshall Scholar); and a Ph.D. at Harvard University (Junior Fellow, Society of Fellows).
Reverend Henry L. Slack was pastor of the First Congregational Church at Bethel, Connecticut, from 1883 until his death in 1905. From 1884 to 1889 he was registrar of the Fairfield East Consociation of Congregational Churches, and he served twice as a delegate to the National Congregational Council, in 1893 and 1902. In 1896 Slack was chair of the Ministers’ Association of Fairfield County, and he chaired Bethel’s school board for a number of years beginning in 1884. Slack earned his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and spent one year at Harvard Divinity School before entering YDS. He was ordained and installed at the Congregational Church of Chester, Vermont, which he served for six years. Slack was the author of numerous articles for the religious press. He was married to Fannie Phelps of Chester, Vermont, and they had four children: Elvira Jennie, John Phelps, Helen Louise, and Grace Fannie.
(May 20, 2009)