John Phillip Hyatt Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MSS.0220

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content Note

The J. Philip Hyatt papers comprise material dating from Hyatt’s student days to his death in 1972.

Correspondence files contain letters from 1936 to 1972 and are not at all complete with certain years much more fully represented than others. Important correspondents include W.F.

Albright, Nelson Glueck, George E. Mendenhall, Bruce Metzger, H.H. Rowley, Samuel Sandmel, Claus Westerman, and G. Ernest Wright.

Manuscript or print copies of most of Hyatt’s published writing output are present in the collection including manuscripts, scholarly and popular articles and book reviews, and devotional literature. Also included are his papers written while he was a student, a large collection of sermon and Sunday school notes, and texts of various speeches and addresses.

Material related to Hyatt’s Bible translation work as a member of the Standard Bible Committee from 1945 to 1972 are present including material related to the actual translation process of the Committee.

Hyatt’s teaching career is documented by a significant body of classroom related material including lecture notes, syllabi, papers written by students, etc.

Academic administration involvement is reflected in an extensive collection of Vanderbilt Divinity School and Vanderbilt University related materials. Divinity School materials included Personnel and Policy Committee items, Curriculum Committee items, material related to the Dean searches of 1956 and 1965-66 and to the Lawson case of 1961. A variety of Graduate Department of Religion (of which Hyatt was the chair from 1944-64) materials are present as well.

Hyatt’s involvement with the Vanderbilt University administration is reflected in papers relating to the University Research Council, the University Senate (of which Hyatt was the Divinity School representative), the Academic Policy Committee of the University Senate, and the Chancellor Search Committee which recommended Alexander Heard in 1965.

Hyatt was an active member in a variety of professional organizations. Present in the collection are quite a number of papers from his varied activities in the Society of Biblical Literature including files related to the Yonan Codex controversy of 1955-56 during which Hyatt, then president of the Society, was sued by the Aramaic Bible Society. Other organizations include the National Council on Religion in Higher Education, the Society for Old Testament Study, the American Association of Theological Schools, and the American School of Oriental Research.

Hyatt served as the alumni secretary for the Yale Divinity School class of 1933 and the collection includes extensive correspondence and other materials related to this activity.

An active churchman, Hyatt was deeply involved in various organizations and activities of his denomination, the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. The collection included files from his work with the Disciples Divinity House of Vanderbilt Divinity School, the Disciples Historical Society, and the Disciples Panel of Scholars. Material relating to Hyatt’s ecumenical activities with the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches are also present.

A limited selection of papers related to Hyatt’s social justice activities can be found in these papers. An extensive selection of subject files relating primarily to Hyatt’s scholarly fields of Ancient Near Eastern and Old Testament studies are held in the collection. The presence of a variety of other subject files ranging from the American Indian religion to contemporary theology to Marxism reflects Hyatt’s wide range of interests.

Personal materials held include files on awards and honorary degrees, legal papers, files on family members, and appointment books covering the years 1951-72. Also present is a sizeable collection of short story fiction and other prose by Hyatt’s brother Robert L. Hyatt.

Acronyms:
AATS
American Association of Theological Schools
ANE
Ancient Near Eastern
ASOR
American School of Oriental Research
HUC
Hebrew Union College
NCRHE
National Council on Religion in Higher Education
ROTC
Reserve Officers Training Corps
RSV
Revised Standard Version
SBL
Society of Biblical Literature

Dates

  • c. 1927-1972

Language of Materials

English

Biographical Sketch

Born to Robert Lee and Mamie (Stanley) Hyatt on Feb. 16, 1909 in Monticello, Arkansas, J. Philip Hyatt married Elizabeth Bard of Brooklyn, Connecticut in 1932. The Hyatts had three sons—James Lee, Charles Sidney, and David Philip.

Hyatt was educated at Baylor University (A.B., 1929), Brown University (A.M., 1930), and Yale University (B.D., 1933, Ph.D., 1938). His doctoral work was in the field of Ancient Near Eastern Studies. In addition, he studied at the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem (1931-32) and the University of Marburg in Germany (1932). He received honorary degrees from Christian Theological Seminary (D.D., 1967), Baylor University (L.L.D., 1969), and Texas Christian University (D.H.L., 1969).

Hyatt was ordained a Baptist minister in 1929 and he served as minister of the Hull Memorial Baptist Church in Cheshire, Connecticut (1932-35). In 1946 he transferred his ministerial credentials to the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ and he was active in various Disciples efforts including the Disciples Historical Society, the Disciples Divinity House of Vanderbilt Divinity School, the Panel of Scholars to Re-examine Disciples’ Thought and Doctrine, as well as in his own local congregation, Woodmont Christian Church in Nashville, Tennessee.

Hyatt taught at Wellesley College (1935-41) before moving to Vanderbilt University where he became full professor of Old Testament in 1944 and where he served until his death in 1972. In addition, Hyatt served as visiting professor or fellow at the University of Chicago (1944), Garret Biblical Institute (1945), Union Theological Seminary in New York (1950), Iliff School of Theology (1958), Perkins School of Theology (1961) and Hebrew Union College (1952).

Also active in academic administration, Hyatt was an important figure at Vanderbilt Divinity School where he served as Acting Dean (1956-57). He also served on and often chaired the influential Personnel and Policy Committee of the Divinity School. In addition, he chaired the Graduate Department of Religion (1944-64) and served as the Divinity School representative to the University Senate. Hyatt’s role in the controversy over the expulsion of black civil right rights activist and Divinity School student James Lawson in 1961 deserves mention. While most of the Divinity School faculty chose to resign in protest of the University action in expelling Lawson, Hyatt was one of the few who did not but rather fight from within the university to change policiesd.

A prolific author, Hyatt wrote or edited nine books as well as numerous scholarly articles. In addition, he wrote a wide variety of devotional and educational materials such as Sunday school lesson, etc.

From 1945 until his death, Hyatt served as a member of the Old Testament section of the Standard Bible Committee, the committee sponsored by the National Council of Churches which undertook the translation and production of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. As a member of the Committee, Hyatt also engaged in public defense of the new translation against fundamentalist attacks. Other ecumenical activities include his serving on the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches.

Active in professional societies, Hyatt’s memberships included the Society of Religion in Higher Education, the American Oriental Society, the American Academy of Religion, the British Society of Old Testament Study, and the Society of Biblical Literature, of which he was elected President for 1956.

J. Philip Hyatt suffered a heart attack at his office desk at Vanderbilt Divinity School and died on Nov. 6. 1972.

  • 1909 Born on February 16 in Monticello, Arkansas to Robert Lee and Mamie (Stanley) Hyatt.
  • 1925-29 Student at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. Majored in English Literature and Greek with a minor in History. Graduated A.B. (summa cum laude) in 1929.
  • 1929 Ordained to the ministry in the Southern Baptist Church.
  • 1929-30 Student at Brown University. Major in Biblical Literature with minor in Philosophy. Graduated A.M. in 1930.
  • 1930-33 Student at Yale Divinity School. Graduated B.D. (magna cum laude) in 1933.
  • 1931-32 Student at American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem for seven months and student at University of Marburg in Germany for two months. Traveled extensively in Middle East and Europe.
  • 1932 Married Elizabeth Bard of Brooklyn, Connecticut. The Hyatts had three sons—James Lee, Charles Sidney, David Philip.
  • 1933-35 Pastor of Hull Baptist Church, Cheshire, Connecticut.
  • 1935-41 Instructor (1935-38) and Assistant Professor (1938-41) of Biblical History at Wellesley College.
  • 1938 Graduated with Ph.D. in Ancient Near Eastern Studies from Yale University.
  • 1941 Author, The Treatment of Final Vowels in Early Neo-Babylonia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1941.
  • 1941-44 Associate Professor of Old Testament at Vanderbilt University.
  • 1944-72 Professor of Old Testament at Vanderbilt University.
  • 1944-64 Chair, Graduate Department of Religion of Vanderbilt University. Hyatt had a leading role in the development of the Ph.D. program in Religion at Vanderbilt.
  • 1944 Visiting Professor, University of Chicago (Winter).
  • 1945 Visiting Professor, Garrett Biblical Institute (Summer).
  • 1945-72 Member, Old Testament Section of the Standard Bible Committee, sponsored by the National Council of Churches, which produced the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Hyatt also engaged in public defense of the new version against fundamentalist attacks.
  • 1946 Transferred ministerial credentials to the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. Hyatt was active in various Disciples organizations and activities.
  • 1947 Author, Prophetic Religion. Nashville: Abingdon, 1947.
  • 1948-49 Editor, Journal of Biblical Literature.
  • 1949-50 President, Southern Section, Society of Biblical Literature.
  • 1950 Visiting Professor, Union Theological Seminary in New York (Summer).
  • 1951 Editor, Vanderbilt Studies in the Humanities, I. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1951.
  • 1952 Ford Faculty Fellow, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati.
  • 1954-61 Member, North American Section, Commission on Worship of the Commission on Faith and Order, World Council of Churches.
  • 1956 Author, The Book of Jeremiah: Introduction and Exegesis in The Interpreters Bible V. New York: Abingdon Press, 1956.
  • 1956-57 Acting Dean, Vanderbilt Divinity School. An important figure in the history of the Divinity School, Hyatt also served on the influential Personnel and Policy Committee and chaired the Biblical Department of the school.
  • 1956-57 President, Society of Biblical Literature. During his tenure as president, Hyatt and the Society were embroiled in a controversy with the Aramaic Bible Society over the age and value of the so-called “Yonan Codex.” Hyatt was also a member of the American Oriental Society, the American Academy of Religion, the British Society of Old Testament Study, and the Society for Religion in Higher Education.
  • 1957-63 Member, Panel of Scholars to Re-examine the Disciples Thought and Doctrine.
  • 1958 Author, Jeremiah: Prophet of Courage and Hope. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1958.
  • 1958 Visiting Professor, Illif School of Theology (Summer).
  • 1960-72 Member, Vanderbilt University Senate as representative of the Divinity School.
  • 1961 Visiting Professor, Perkins School of Theology (Summer).
  • 1961 Lawson Case. When the Vanderbilt University administration expelled black civil rights activist and Divinity School student James Lawson, most of the Divinity School faculty chose to submit resignations in protest. Hyatt was one of the few who did not.
  • 1963 Death of son, James Lee Hyatt, at age 26.
  • 1963 Author, The Prophetic Criticism of Israelite Worship (Goldenson Lecture for 1963). Cincinatti: Hebrew Union College Press, 1963.
  • 1964 Author, The Heritage of Biblical Faith: An Aid to Reading the Bible. St. Louis: Bethany Press, 1964.
  • 1965 Editor, The Bible in Modern Scholarship: Papers Read at the 100th Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1965.
  • 1965 Read paper at the Geneva Congress of the International Organization for Old Testament Study.
  • 1967 Honorary D.D., Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • 1969 Honorary L.L.D., Baylor University.
  • 1969 Honorary D.H.L., Texas Christian University.
  • 1971 Author, Exodus (New Century Bible Commentary). London: Oliphants, 1971.
  • 1972 Death by heart attack on Nov. 6, 1972.
1909
Born on February 16 in Monticello, Arkansas to Robert Lee and Mamie (Stanley) Hyatt.
1925-29
Student at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. Majored in English Literature and Greek with a minor in History. Graduated A.B. (summa cum laude) in 1929.
1929
Ordained to the ministry in the Southern Baptist Church.
1929-30
Student at Brown University. Major in Biblical Literature with minor in Philosophy. Graduated A.M. in 1930.
1930-33
Student at Yale Divinity School. Graduated B.D. (magna cum laude) in 1933.
1931-32
Student at American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem for seven months and student at University of Marburg in Germany for two months. Traveled extensively in Middle East and Europe.
1932
Married Elizabeth Bard of Brooklyn, Connecticut. The Hyatts had three sons—James Lee, Charles Sidney, David Philip.
1933-35
Pastor of Hull Baptist Church, Cheshire, Connecticut.
1935-41
Instructor (1935-38) and Assistant Professor (1938-41) of Biblical History at Wellesley College.
1938
Graduated with Ph.D. in Ancient Near Eastern Studies from Yale University.
1941
Author, The Treatment of Final Vowels in Early Neo-Babylonia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1941.
1941-44
Associate Professor of Old Testament at Vanderbilt University.
1944-72
Professor of Old Testament at Vanderbilt University.
1944-64
Chair, Graduate Department of Religion of Vanderbilt University. Hyatt had a leading role in the development of the Ph.D. program in Religion at Vanderbilt.
1944
Visiting Professor, University of Chicago (Winter).
1945
Visiting Professor, Garrett Biblical Institute (Summer).
1945-72
Member, Old Testament Section of the Standard Bible Committee, sponsored by the National Council of Churches, which produced the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Hyatt also engaged in public defense of the new version against fundamentalist attacks.
1946
Transferred ministerial credentials to the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. Hyatt was active in various Disciples organizations and activities.
1947
Author, Prophetic Religion. Nashville: Abingdon, 1947.
1948-49
Editor, Journal of Biblical Literature.
1949-50
President, Southern Section, Society of Biblical Literature.
1950
Visiting Professor, Union Theological Seminary in New York (Summer).
1951
Editor, Vanderbilt Studies in the Humanities, I. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1951.
1952
Ford Faculty Fellow, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati.
1954-61
Member, North American Section, Commission on Worship of the Commission on Faith and Order, World Council of Churches.
1956
Author, The Book of Jeremiah: Introduction and Exegesis in The Interpreters Bible V. New York: Abingdon Press, 1956.
1956-57
Acting Dean, Vanderbilt Divinity School. An important figure in the history of the Divinity School, Hyatt also served on the influential Personnel and Policy Committee and chaired the Biblical Department of the school.
1956-57
President, Society of Biblical Literature. During his tenure as president, Hyatt and the Society were embroiled in a controversy with the Aramaic Bible Society over the age and value of the so-called “Yonan Codex.” Hyatt was also a member of the American Oriental Society, the American Academy of Religion, the British Society of Old Testament Study, and the Society for Religion in Higher Education.
1957-63
Member, Panel of Scholars to Re-examine the Disciples Thought and Doctrine.
1958
Author, Jeremiah: Prophet of Courage and Hope. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1958.
1958
Visiting Professor, Illif School of Theology (Summer).
1960-72
Member, Vanderbilt University Senate as representative of the Divinity School.
1961
Visiting Professor, Perkins School of Theology (Summer).
1961
Lawson Case. When the Vanderbilt University administration expelled black civil rights activist and Divinity School student James Lawson, most of the Divinity School faculty chose to submit resignations in protest. Hyatt was one of the few who did not.
1963
Death of son, James Lee Hyatt, at age 26.
1963
Author, The Prophetic Criticism of Israelite Worship (Goldenson Lecture for 1963). Cincinatti: Hebrew Union College Press, 1963.
1964
Author, The Heritage of Biblical Faith: An Aid to Reading the Bible. St. Louis: Bethany Press, 1964.
1965
Editor, The Bible in Modern Scholarship: Papers Read at the 100th Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1965.
1965
Read paper at the Geneva Congress of the International Organization for Old Testament Study.
1967
Honorary D.D., Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, Indiana.
1969
Honorary L.L.D., Baylor University.
1969
Honorary D.H.L., Texas Christian University.
1971
Author, Exodus (New Century Bible Commentary). London: Oliphants, 1971.
1972
Death by heart attack on Nov. 6, 1972.

Extent

23.51 Linear Feet (42 Hollinger boxes)

Physical Location

Offsite Storage, Special Collections & Archives
Title
Finding Aid for the John Phillip Hyatt Papers
Status
Completed
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Jean and Alexander Heard Library
419 21st Avenue South
Nashville TN 37203 United States


 

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