Last updated: 13 August 2019

I. Research Emphases

1) Worldviews and Religious Thought in the Ancient World and the New Testament

The task of exegesis is not (only) to trace and systematize the claims of individual texts, but rather, from a methodological perspective, to reconstruct the systems of ancient thought that underlie and inform individual texts. Thus, the attempt should be made to understand various ancient worldviews and religious conceptions in terms of their internal logic and coherence. Ever since Bultmann’s critical contributions on mythology and ancient worldviews, New Testament scholarship has been in general well aware of worldview issues, yet scholars have far too seldom asked about the concrete details of ancient worldviews. The concern here is not the superficial gathering of “parallels” but rather the investigation of comprehensive models of reality and their correlation with the biblical texts. Such investigation assumes, however, not that there is “the” one ancient system of thought, but that there are, perhaps even within the NT itself, competing models and thought complexes. Yet even within one stratum of tradition it cannot be assumed that all religious ideas were systematized or that all religious ideas could coexist without umbrage. Nevertheless, it can probably be assumed that each individual approach was distinguished by an internal logic. It is precisely this logic which should be laid out. My own research has sought to fulfill this task, for example concerning the theme of sin personified (hamartia) in Paul, the relation between divine providence and human free will, the ancient concept of religious substitution as well as concepts of “presence” in the Lord’s Supper, though that is not to say I have given the last word on these topics.

In contrast to the investigation of metaphors, images and terms, investigating ancient “thought” has the merit of being able to encompass phenomena that are not directly represented on the surface of the text, but rather occur as underlying ideological assumptions. It is also important to take care against the suspicion that such investigation concerns itself merely with imaginary constructs or the history of ideological superstructures. Rather, ancient “thought” stands for a consciousness that can vitally influence religious and social processes.

This entire undertaking is not an end in itself, but asks about possible connections to contemporary experiences or missing experiences. The search for such connections does not imply a demand for confessional acceptance of biblical conceptions and thought, but what should be carefully examined is where ancient thought offers helpful models for contemporary life, thought and challenges.

Related Publications

a) Sin and Redemption

Exegetical studies Hermeneutics

b) Predestination

Exegetical studies Hermeneutics

c) Substitution

d) Presence of Christ (in the Lord’s Supper)

2) Pauline Theology

Related Publications (supplementary to 1a-d)

Exegetical studies Hermeneutics

3) Issues in Bible Translation and Biblical Hermeneutics

Related Publications

4) Other Topics of Focus

a) Resurrection and Eternal Life

b) The New Testament and Ancient Culture

c) The Gospel of Matthew

d) Bible and Canon

e) 1 Peter

II. Dissertation Projects

"From Primus inter Pares to Sole Missionaries: The Twelve in the New Testament and the Early Christian Writers"
(Dominik Pioch)

This study attempts to examine the manifold concepts of the Twelve in the New Testament and the early Christian writers and to contextualize them within the theology of the Apostolic Age and the Early Church. In this process it aims to pose two questions: Which dynamic processes have taken place in the "career" of the Twelve in Early Christianity? Furthermore, is it possible to trace a development from Paul's concept of the Twelve as primus inter pares as witnesses of the resurrected Christ (1Cor 15,3b-8) to Norbert Brox's concept of the Twelve as sole group responsible for mission, as seen in some of the early Christian writers (cf. N. Brox, Mission in der Spätantike, in: K. Kertelge [ed.], Mission im Neuen Testament, QD 93, Freiburg/Basel 1982, 190-237)?

"Paul and Christian Suffering"
(Tobias Mölleken)

The sufferings of the Apostle Paul have been the subject of numerous studies. In recent years, however, the sufferings of the communities and Christians to whom Paul writes have received increased exegetical interest. In this context, Paul's interpretations of suffering play a prominent role. The primary question of interest is typically how Paul's interpretations of suffering help the communities cope with suffering. This project seeks to move a step beyond previous studies by examining the positive implications of suffering for Christian existence. What positive function does suffering in the Christian life take on? Could it even have a soteriological function? The study proceeds on the basis of exegetical analysis of relevant passages and makes use of tradition-historical considerations.

"Testing in the Gospel of Mark"
(Arnd Herrmann) completed

For some time now the Gospel of Mark has enjoyed increased scholarly attention. The theme of testing in Mark has, however, played hardly any role in scholarly discourse. Yet a deeper understanding of this gospel can be gained by paying attention to this theme in particular. Herrmann investigates the function of the testing motif in Mark on the basis of several chosen texts. In the narrative world of Mark, testing provides a seam for Jesus’ earthly path, from his baptism to his death on the cross. This, together with the manner in which the Son of God passes tests in Mark, has exemplary significance for discipleship. The stories of testing in Mark precisely reflect the challenges that the readers themselves face. Mark’s Christology sets the standards of discipleship by illustrating both its stipulations and promises. The evangelist wants to strengthen his community in faith under the conditions of the Jewish War and he seeks to safeguard them in the face of the danger of apostasy. He carries out this program by appeal to the fates of Jewish prophets, but also by drawing on the genre of ancient biography, especially the lives of the philosophers.

Versuchung im Markusevangelium. Eine biblisch-hermeneutische Studie, Stuttgart 2011 (BWANT 197)

Reviews: P.-G. Klumbies, ThLZ 137 (2012) 11, 1195-1197; A. Wypadlo, BZ 57 (2013) 122-125

"Jesus as Mystic in the Synoptic Tradition"
(Thomas Kiesebrink)

In this dissertation, the author pursues the question of whether Jesus of Nazareth is depicted as a mystic in the synoptic tradition. The central objective of the study is to bring into view certain aspects of Jesus’ religiosity that in contemporary theological discourse are usually only given marginal consideration but that can best be understood in the context of mysticism.

"Adoption in Paul"
(Annika Krahn) completed

By examining ancient adoption certificates and other sources using the term adoption, this study demonstrates that by using the term adoption, Paul makes recourse to a term rooted in the ancient encyclopedia in order to highlight the inclusion of non-Jewish Christ-believers. Since faith and adoption proceed from two different subjects, the study asks whether besides the faith of the individual, Paul’s imagery suggests he understands the admission of the believer into the people of God in a stronger “legal” or “social” sense of initiation. In particular, besides faith, adoption by God plays an essential role in the salvation event, for adoption ensures the same rights for all Christ-believers and thus also the sharing in the promise of God.

Legitimation qua Adoption. Eine Inklusionsmaßnahme bei Paulus, Weilerswist 2018 (Velbrück Wissenschaft).

"The 'Presence' of Christ in the Lord’s Supper"
(Christina Risch) dissertation accepted, Bonn 2011

This project deals first of all with the question of whether 1 Cor 10.1-22 and 11.17-34 allow the thesis that Paul implicitly assumes the 'presence' of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. This leads to the second question, namely whether and how one can capture with theologically precise terms such an implicit, unexpressed "idea of presence" on the basis of Jewish and Hellenistic comparative material.