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Faculty of Theology

Research Activities at the Faculty

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Research Activities at the Faculty

General remarks

The research activities at the Faculty of Theology take place in different ways:
In the centre of attention there are major academic projects, which are pursued by the professors and their graduate students. The individual institutes organize theological talks within so called academic societies, in which the individual projects are scholarly discussed. As a rule those major projects will be finalized and their results published and – where it is intended – an academic degree (Dr. theol., Dr. theol. habil.) will be earned.
Academic research is connected with publishing scholarly essays, lectures and events in further education. On top of this many professors are members of academic and church bodies. In connection with this type of work research is often requested. Those studies and their results are not mentioned in this research report on hand, but they can be found in the Internet.

Academic research is done in connection with editing projects. The professors of the Faculty of Theology edit a large number of academic periodicals, journals and yearbooks. For example:

  • Lutherjahrbuch
  • Lutherbibliographie
  • Reihe „Biblische Gestalten“
  • Reihe „Arbeiten zur Bibel und ihrer Geschichte“
  • Kirchengeschichtliches Jahrbuch „Herbergen der Christenheit“
  • Reihe „Beiträge zur Spiritualität und Liturgie“
  • „Lequach. Mitteilungen und Beiträge der Forschungsstelle Judentum“
  • Reihe „Leucorea-Studien zur Geschichte der Reformation und der Lutherischen Orthodoxie“
  • Reihe „Arbeiten zur Theologie- und Kirchengeschichte“

In addition to that many staff members are co-editors of academic journals, academic yearbooks etc.
Research is connected with the organisation of conferences and colloquia. For example: The Liturgical Institute of the VELKD at the Faculty of Theology organizes an annual academic conference for representatives of different theological faculties and churches.
Lately interdisciplinary and international research projects and programmes have become more and more prominent at the Faculty of Theology.

Comprehensive and faculty transgressing programmes of emphasis
Theological research is primarily defined by subjects, which are chosen by the individual institutes of the faculty. Nevertheless there are a lot of research programmes which transgress the borders of an institute or the faculty. Examples are:

  • The DFG-research project “The Child in Israel”, which receives interdisciplinary attention as a contribution to the subject “Child and Childhood in the Ancient Orient”.
  • The interdisciplinary project “Political correspondence of the Duke and Elector Moritz of Saxony”, which is part of the project “Quellen und Forschungen zur sächsischen Geschichte”. The Institute of Church History and the Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig are in charge of it.
  • Theological Bach-research, which is carried out by the Institute of Systematic Theology in connection with church history, liturgy history, music history and activities of the new Bach Society.
  • Theological anthropology and ethics in connection with different teaching and research projects of the Institute of Systematic Theology in co-operation with specialists in the field of medical ethics
  • Religion as a subject of theological and sociological research. Next to empirical studies this kind of research deals with the rank of religion in religious criticism and theology. Several projects of the Institutes of Systematic Theology, Practical Theology and Religious Education fall under this category.
  • Research in the history of the faculty and the university are anchored in the Institute of Church History which co-operates in this matter with all other institutes of the faculty.

Major research projects at the institutes of the faculty

Institute of Old Testament Studies

Research priorities

  • The prophets in the postexilic time
  • Wisdom literature
  • Child and childhood in Israel
  • Death and afterlife in Ancient Israel and its surrounding areas
  • History and history of the religions of Palestine/Israel
  • Culture of every-day-life

Elected Projects

Research project: Child and childhood in Israel and its neighbouring civilizations PD Dr. Andreas Kunz-Lübcke, Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Lux (kunz@rz.uni-leipzig.de, lux@rz.uni-leipzig.de)
It is possible to describe the situation of the children in ancient Israel and its neighbours? Several voices of popular represents of the research of the children’s history have claimed that the situation of the children in the ancient civilizations was anything but positive. Meanwhile show researches in the field of the social situation of the children in Egypt, in the ancient near east and in the classical Greek a better picture of the living conditions of the children an their social role and importance in the families.
The project researches the living conditions of the children in Israel, the idea(s) of procreation, pregnancy and birth, the role and importance of children in their families and other aspects of the social life of the children.

Encyclopedia of Material Culture in the Biblical World (EBW)
Prof. Dr. Angelika Berlejung (berle@rz.uni-leipzig.de)
The “Encyclopaedia of Material Culture in the Biblical World” (EBW) is a completely revised and updated English version of the former German “Standardwerk” Biblisches Reallexikon (BRL). It was published first in 1937 (BRL), second edition 1977 (BRL2) by J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck, Tuebingen) and was edited by Kurt Galling (Tuebingen). The BRL2 focused on the material culture of Israel/Palestine from the Neolithic Age to the Roman Period, giving primary attention to the material from the Bronze and Iron Ages. Its aim was to document and present systematically the archaeological material from the Southern Levant. Its goal was to enlighten the everyday-culture by using the available lexical, epigraphical, iconographical and archaeological evidence. In past decades, the BRL has been a reference book for biblical scholars and archaeologists. Since its first publication, the material finds for the entries have increased and many methods have changed. Therefore the new edition was a necessary task.

Research funded by grants

The largest research projects of the Institute of Old Testament Studies funded by grants are:

  • DFG-project “The Child in Israel and in its Neighbouring Cultures” (Institute of Old Testament Studies, Prof. Dr. Lux, PD Dr. Kunz-Lübcke).
  • Funding was obtained from the Gerda-Henkel-Stiftung, to organize the international symposion „Death and Afterlife in Ancient Israel and its Surrounding Areas, 16.3.-18.3.2007 Villa Tillmanns/Leipzig“ (Institute of Old Testament Studies, Prof. Dr. Berlejung).

Institut of New Testament Studies

Research priorities

  • Academic editions and commentaries of central texts of the Hellenistic Judaism and Early Christianity (f. e. pseudoepigraphs, paralipomena Jeremiae, septuaginta)
  • The letters of the New Testament (Pastoral Epistles, Galatians, Hebrews, James)
  • Theology of Luke
  • Editing projects (Symposia, essays etc.)
  • Monograph on „Jesus“ for the series „Biblical Figures“

The book (meanwhile appeared) is part of the series “Biblical Figures”. It is going to be one of the most important volumes of this series. During the last years Jesus research has received fresh impetus mainly through American scholars, that led to a discussion about methodological questions. On top of that new understanding of Jesus was added through excavations in Galilee during the last two decades. The comprehensive literature on Jesus of the past years and the new archaeological findings will be put together in the projected book, which is meant for a wider reading public.

Elected Projects

"Fourth Baruch. Text and Translation with Indroduction and Commentary, Writings from the Greco-Roman World 22, 254 S., Atlanta/Leiden 2005
Prof. Dr. Jens Herzer (herzer@uni-leipzig.de)

Critical edition of the Greek text of 4Baruch, a pseudepigraphical Jewish writing from the second century C.E., with introduction and commentary (meanwhile appeared).
New edition of "Antike christliche Apokryphen"
Prof. Dr. Jens Schröter (schroetj@rz.uni-leipzig.de), Prof. Dr. Christoph Markschies
A new edition of this widely known collection of New Testament apocryphal texts in German translation is currently under preparation. The editors are Christoph Markschies and Jens Schröter. A great number of scholars is involved in the project. The first volume will probably be published in 2007. This means that a lot of work has to be done in organising and editing the project.

Institute of Church History

Research priorities

Late Middle Ages and Reformation
Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. h.c. Günther Wartenberg
Research concentrates on the history of the Wittenberg branch of Reformation in the 16th and 17th century, the political and ecclesiastical history of Saxony and the history of education in „Mitteldeutschland“ (approximately equivalent to modern Saxony, Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt) including the history of Leipzig University (in preparation of the 600th anniversary in 2009).

New and Recent Church History
Prof. Dr. Klaus Fitschen
Research is concentrated on the history of Christianity from the age of enlightenment up to the present day. A particular point of view is the history of protestant minorities in Europe. In cooperation with the „Evangelische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte“ (a research group appointed by the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany) research projects in the field of church history in the period around the year 1968 were planned and started.

Territorial Church History
Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. h.c. Günther Wartenberg, Prof. Dr. Gerhard Graf
The work on the „Sächsisches Pfarrerbuch“ (a register of all pastors in Saxony since the Reformation) and the cooperation with the Institute of Saxon History and Folklore on a „Sächsische Biographie“ (a Lexicon of prominent Saxons) have been continued.

Christian Archaeology and Christian Art
Prof. Dr. Gerhard Graf
Research on the historical topography, the history of ecclesiastical architecture and interior furnishing was continued.

Institute of Systematic Theology

Research priorities

  • Fundamental theological issues dealing with the dialogue between theology and philosophy, between theology and current ideological movements and between theology and contemporary religious criticism
  • Fundamental anthropological issues. As an example of this programme of emphasis within teaching and research investigations in medical ethics should be mentioned. It is an interdisciplinary project dealing with questions of life, the protection of life, the protection of embryos, the dignity of man, the beginning and the end of life, the understanding of health and illness (Prof. Dr. G. Schneider).
  • Fundamental dogmatic questions
  • Ecumenical-theological questions
  • Theological Bach-research

Elected Projects

Martin Petzoldt has produced a series of publication about Theology, primarily Bach research, also mainstream publication, at last
Bach-Commentary. Theological and Music-research Commentatings of the Bach's sacred vocal-works. Vol. I: The sacred Cantatas of 1st to 27th Sundays after Trinity. Stuttgart and Kassel 2004.
The following volume of Bach's sacred Cantatas of 1st Sunday of Advent to the Feast of Trinity will be published in September 2006.

Interdisciplinary Dialog of the Leipzig Forum Science-Philosophy-Theology
Spokesman: Prof. Dr. Annette G. Beck-Sickinger (Department of Biochemistry) and Prof. Dr. Matthias Petzoldt (Deoartment of Systematic Theology)
The texts of the first public course of lectures at the University of Leipzig on “God in the Brain? Brain Science and the Phenomenology of Religious Experience” which took place in the winter term 2003/04 are collected in „Brain Science and the Phenomenology of Religious Experience. Interdisciplinary Dimensions“, edited by PD Dr. Christoph Jäger and will be published by Springer-Verlag in 2006.
The second public course of lectures on “Paradigm Evolution: A theory’s Prospects and Limits” followed in the winter term 2005/06 and in the summer term 2006. A collection of the lectures will be published.

Institute of Practical Theology

Research priorities

  • Liturgical and homiletic questions (church calendar; the history of protestant church services; a DFG-project about the peace prayers in Leipzig; church service as a place for religious education; young adults and church service; prayers during the day; Easter hymns; the Berneuchener movement; the concept of sin in contemporary sermons)
  • Subjects of counselling (pastoral psychology in the GDR; the myth of sense as the context for counselling; biographical research)

Elected Projects

Peter Zimmerling, Dietrich Bonhoeffer as Practical Theologian
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, probably Germany's best-known 20th-century theologian at home and abroad, who would have turned 100 on 4 February 2006, continues to exert an unbroken fascination. Yet, his Practical Theology has so far attracted relatively little attention. Here, Bonhoeffer emerges – precisely during his time as director of the preachers' seminary, on which the research project focuses – as a wholeheartedly spiritual and radically ecclesiastical theologian. Given the resurgence of religion and present crisis of the institutionalised churches, his practical thinking on theology is particularly topical. The research project's first aim was to gain a basic perspective on Bonhoeffer's Practical Theology. The next step involved an investigation into the specific practical-theological fields of activity: doctrine of preaching, understanding of worship, theory of pastoral care and congregational development. Here, a three-step approach – moving from biographical background, to the fundamental theological principles and concretization – proved effective. First, the particular subject under investigation was placed in its biographical context. This was followed by a consideration of Bonhoeffer's theological reflections on the issue. The third step involved a closer analysis that focused on particular questions or advanced various propositions designed to illustrate the topicality of Bonhoeffer's thought.
The research project, whose results have been incorporated in teaching activities (one lecture, one seminar), is set to continue in the coming year. The book “Bonhoeffer als Praktischer Theologe” (“Bonhoeffer as Practical Theologian”), Göttingen 2006, presents the initial findings.
(Prof. Dr. Peter Zimmerling, Zimmerling@theologie.uni-leipzig.de )

Johannes Block, Speaking of Sin in contemporary Preaching and homiletic Theology
The research work is basically divided in to an analytical part and a systematic part. The analytical part is focussed on selected sermons speaking of sin. Homiletic strategies are analyzed and criticized. The systematic part outlines a new homiletic theology concerning the subject of sin as understood by the Reformation. The contemporary problem of a harmless speaking of God („cheap grace “) is intended to be solved.
The research work will be organized in several steps, e. g.:

a) consideration of the social and ecclesiastical situation with regard to the speaking of sin;
b) selection of sermons;
c) development of an analytical method concerning the speaking of sin;
d) new relationship of dogmatic and homiletic perspectives.

Institute of Liturgical Studies

Next to continued lecturing and organizing conferences, which include publishing tasks (f.e. the series “Beiträge zu Liturgie und Spiritualität”, EVA Leipzig) research is focused on a project which deals with the history of liturgy entitled “Studies on the function and change of the protestant church service in Saxony.”

The following research projects are in preparation:

  • A documentation of essential texts and studies on the development of the Buß- und Bettag
  • The liturgy of Georg Rietschel
  • Alternative church services in the early years of the GDR.
  • An edition of Christian Gerber: „Historie der Kirchenceremonien in Sachsen“ (1732).

Institute for Religious Education

Research priorities

For the last years the main focus of research of the Institute for Religious Education has been the exploration of the conditions of Christian social learning in different social environments (family, school, parish) and the development of models which help to mark this kind of learning. A second focus has been the empirical research of the relationship between everyday experience and the religion of pupils.

Elected projects

Christian social learning at school – evaluation of a new school subject at the parochial grammar school in Michelbach/Bilz (Dr. Christoph Gramzow)
The investigation focuses on a theory based on examination of the effects of Christian social learning in everyday life at school. The parochial school in Michelbach/Bilz is the nation’s forerunner to introduce Christian social learning as a school subject. The school offers its pupils the opportunity to take Christian social learning as a qualifying subject in grade 9 - 11. Qualitative and quantitative methods will be applied to find out if and in what way the anticipated learning objectives are met.

The understanding of miracles with children and adolescents (Prof. Dr. Helmut Hanisch)
It is a special challenge for teachers in religious education to deal with biblical miracles. Since we know very little about what concepts of miracles pupils have, it is necessary to undertake an empirical study to find this out. The results of this study will give us a possibility to come to didactic conclusions.
Further research projects of the Institute for Religious Education concentrate on Johann H. Wichern as a stimulator for Christian social learning (Lydia Steinbach) and the contribution of Christian women to Christian social learning (Ulrike Witten)


Home Zusammenstellung: Forschungskontaktstelle, 16.10.2007