• Dr. Christian Wetz
  • Matthias Gran
  • Jördis Drees-Bajorat
  •      (student assistant)
  • Amy Berg             (student assistant: Ancient Languages Greek)

New Testament

The science of the New Testament deals with the contexts of origin (historical challenges) and the interpretation (exegesis) of the 27 writings of the second part of the Bible and their significance in the history of theology. The aim of this study is hermeneutical reflection and the question of a "didactic what", with a special focus on education in the various courses of study. What is to be taught in different professional fields?

Scientifically, we start from the assumption that the texts of the New Testament neither "fell from heaven" nor were divinely or spiritually "inspired", but were written by people in their historical-cultural-religious world as well as in and for their own time. This perspective opens up possibilities for a historical-critical, methodologically reflected approach to the texts. When our students learn "exegesis", they learn to reconstruct the growth process (diachrony) and the original meaning (synchronicity) of the texts with almost surgical methods and to understand and make them useful for the present.

In the New Testament, whose 27 writings were written between 50/51 A.D. and ca. 125 A.D., there are essentially two ways of presenting theology: in the Gospels and Acts, theology is presented narratively, i.e. as a narrative; in the Epistles - above all in those of Paul - theology is presented argumentatively. Whether narrative or argumentative: all the writings of the New Testament breathe the air of the ancient world as a broad "ecumene" ("ecumene" understood as the inhabited world known at that time, the οἰκουμένη). Some of its authors saw themselves as belonging more to Judaism, others more to Greco-Roman thought and faith, and some to both. As representatives of their own, certainly also disparate faith community, they move both in a socio-political ecumenical context and in a cultural-religious ecumenical context. In this, they are witnesses to the faith of early Christianity in the ecumenical debate and diverse discussion of their time and world. Thus, students learn hermeneutically-historically a different approach to an "ecumenical" discourse that differs from today's ecclesiastical concept of ecumenism.

One last thing: The systematic theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) is said to have given his students the following advice when he left Bonn University in 1935(!): "Take [...] my last advice: exegesis, exegesis and once again exegesis!"

(Changed: 19 Jan 2024)  | 
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