Cook appointed as President of IOSOT

Prof Johann Cook (photo), a lecturer in Stellenbosch University’s Department of Ancient Studies and researcher specialising in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible), was recently appointed as President of the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament (IOSOT). The news was officially announced at an IOSOT business meeting in Munich, Germany, last week.

The IOSOT conference is held every three years and with Cook’s appointment, Stellenbosch University (SU) will become the first African institution to host the conference in 2016, along with the Old Testament Society of South Africa (OTSSA). It is only the second conference to be held outside Europe – in 1986 it was held in Jerusalem.Prof Johann Cook

Cook will serve as President from 2013-2016.

“This is really amazing, but still feels very unreal. I must admit that when they announced that I had been appointed as the President and I walked up to the podium, it felt like one of the biggest highlights of my career,” said Cook. “I was looking down at these wonderful scholars, these learned people and thought: they elected me as president.”

Cook’s focus on the Septuagint sprouted from his interest in Hebrew and Greek and some encouragement from the former chairman of the Department of Ancient Studies, Prof Charles Fensham, who suggested he pursue a research career in academia focusing on this field. Since then, he has contributed much to develop the field.

“The Septuagint is the oldest translation of the Hebrew Bible available. Since it is so near in time to the Hebrew that was spoken then, we can expect to gain major theological insights from these translations,” said Cook.

“These translators had a certain understanding of the Hebrew Bible which is enlightening to modern scholars. At present, I am working on a theology of the Septuagint of Proverbs. We gain a lot of insights by studying the Septuagint in relationship to or with the Hebrew text and these theological insights have implications for our daily life, because it helps us to understand the Bible and the message of the Bible.”

In 2008, Cook was the editor of the book, Septuagint and Reception, which comprised of papers presented at a conference on the same topic in Stellenbosch. In 2012, Cook, along with Prof Hermann Josef-Stipp, a visiting professor at SU from the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München, served as editors of the book Text-Critical and Hermeneutical Studies in the Septuagint, following another conference held in Stellenbosch. Both books were published as part of the IOSOT’s Vetus Testamentum Supplementum series.

“Since 1983, he has delivered numerous papers at the various conferences of the IOSOT, the OTSSA, the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies as well as the International Organization for Qumran Studies, inter alia as a presenter of a main paper at the IOSOT in 2007. He is widely respected for his excellent research on particularly Septuagint-Proverbs, and has gained international recognition in this field,” wrote the OTSSA in their presidency nomination and bid for hosting the 2016 conference.

“His numerous publications, including 2 monographs, are often cited in the field. He was the organiser and co-organiser of more than one international conference. We are therefore convinced that he will be a President worthy of the academic stature of the IOSOT.”

Prof Louis Jonker, from the discipline group Old and New Testament in the Faculty of Theology, assisted with the formulation of the proposal of Cook as President of the IOSOT, as well as the bid for the 2016 conference, while serving as executive member of the OTSSA. He will also serve as conference secretary of IOSOT 2016.​