Old Testament

The subject area "Old Testament Studies" is dedicated to the scientific exploration and exegetic mediation of the Old Testament. The Old Testament is the first, oldest, and fundamental part of the Christian Bible. It is also called "Tanak" (Torah - Prophets - Scriptures), the Holy Book of Judaism.

According to Christian tradition, the New Testament can not be understood without the Old Testament. The Old Testament tells a story that comes to its conclusion in the New Testament. To understand the end of the story, you have to start with its beginning; to understand the New Testament, you have to start with the Old Testament. The Old Testament testifies how the Word of God became scripture, the New Testament testifies its incarnation.

The interpretation of the Old Testament has always presented Christian theology with special challenges. Is it possible to reconcile the coming of the Messiah, attested in the New Testament, with what is said in God's Old Testament? Is Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah announced in the Old Testament? Judaism and Christianity arrived at different interpretations of a largely identical text. In dealing with the question of a correct understanding of the Old Testament, a Christian hermeneutics was developed that decisively determined the history of Christian theology and philosophy. Without a solid knowledge of the Old Testament and its history of interpretation, Christian theology and philosophy remain incomprehensible.

In modern times, new questions emerged. How did the individual writings of the Old Testament originate? How are they to be understood in their contemporary (or ancient oriental) context? How are Old Testament texts, such as the story of creation and paradise, to be understood against the background of modern natural science? Does biblical, especially Old Testament monotheism promote violence and intolerance? Does the Old Testament prayer tradition remain imprisoned in an infantile spirituality?

The department is dedicated to the study of the Old Testament within the broad scope of questions raised here. Research is conducted exegetically-historically and systematically-theologically. The context of interpretation includes the history of interpretation and impact of Old Testament books, the current ecclesial and social developments, as well as the ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.

New Testament

The subject area "New Testament Studies" is committed to the comprehensive scientific research and contemporary interpretation of New Testament scripture.

This opens a broad field of research tasks - a circumstance which is taken into account in broad and diversified teaching: it includes teaching in the field of introductory New Testament studies, study of the time and environment of the New Testament, fundamental exegesis of the New Testament, exegesis and biblical theology, study of New Testament methodology and hermeneutics, history of reception as well as (partly) the Biblical languages (especially Greek) and Bible didactics of the New Testament.

Focus areas

The subject "New Testament Studies" seeks to reveal the polyphony and polysemy of New Testament writings and to make them accessible today, drawing on the wide range of methods of historical-critical exegesis, as well as incorporating newer approaches. The subject‘s research activity is characterised by the consideration of the Jewish and Hellenistic-Roman contextof the New Testament and a sensitivity to its Old Testament roots. In addition, it incorporates the history of reception in interpretations and it strives for a stronger systematisation in the form of a biblical theology.

The research and teaching of the subject "New Testament Studies" not only address current scientific questions in biblical studies, but also impulses from theology, Church and society as a whole. The practical relevanceand permanent topicalityof the research into the New Testament is evident in the following central concerns:

  • Basic research for social action and solidarityin society based on the New Testament.
  • Contribution to the search for meaning and normstoday on the basis of the New Testament (see New Testament ethics, etc.).
  • Interdisciplinary orientationof New Testament Studies (Dialogue with Judaism, archeology, history, history of art, etc.).
  • Incorporation of biblical studies into present discussions in literary and linguisticresearch(intertextuality, narratology, research into the history of reception in older and modern literature, etc.).
  • Consideration of recent research trendsand hermeneutic approaches (interpretation of social history, depth psychology and interpretation of texts, feminist and liberation theological exegesis, canonical interpretation, etc.)
  • Promoting interdenominational, interreligious and intercultural dialogue.
  • Significant participation in a contemporary educationof biblical scholars, religious education teachers, pastoral assistants, priests, hospital chaplains, etc.