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News from the University of Regensburg

“Why is New Testament Scholarship Important?”

International (Post-)doctoral Colloquium and Seminar at UR’s Centre for Advanced Studies Beyond Canon_ (FOR 2770)

12. Juni 2023

Research projects and the future of New Testament Studies were the topics of a conference of early career scholars, which met from 17 to 20 May 2023 at Haus Johannisthal in the Upper Palatinate: The seminar was hosted by Dr. Judith König, research assistant at the chair of Professor Dr. Tobias Nicklas, Chair of Exegesis and Hermeneutics of the New Testament at the University of Regensburg and the Director General of the DFG funded Centre for Advanced Studies Beyond Canon_. They hosted the meeting together with Dr. David Cielontko from the Czech Academy of Sciences and Charles University Prague. Participants came from the University of Regensburg, Charles University Prague and Trinity Western University (TWU) near Vancouver, Canada, under the aegis of Professor Dr. Thomas R. Hatina, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at TWU and Visiting Professor at Charles University Prague.

At the conference, participants shared developing research projects and discussed the overall future of New Testament Studies.(from left) Prof. Thomas Hatina, Prof. Tobias Nicklas, Dr. Mari Mamyan, Dr. Elisa Manzo, Marina Čakić, Naomi Rey, Stu Talene, and Marko Jovanović. Credit: Charlotte von Schelling/Beyond Canon_

From a (nearly) unknown late-antique author to the „parting(s) of the ways“

During the seminar, doctoral students and post-doc researchers presented their projects with a broad variety of topics to several young and emerging scholars as well as the professors: Stu Talene, from TWU and PhD student at Charles University, examines Marcion’s Evangelion and the composition of Luke-Acts and issued the statement, “Great authors don’t describe the world, they change it.”

Dr. Elisa Manzo, a postdoctoral fellow with the Margarita Salas Foundation in Spain, introduced the audience to the late-antique historian and theologian Orosius. In her project, Manzo combines historical, theological, and exegetical research and described her approach as walking with a torch, trying to make space between the words of Orosius’s texts and enlighten this space to discover exegetical meanings. While she pointed out, “context is always key, without forgetting the actual product.” Nicklas characterised Orosius as “an artist who painted with the medium of the bible.”

In the context of the presentation of his doctoral thesis, Marko Jovanović presented the models and theories of the parting(s) of the ways between Christianity and Judaism, the criticism of this approach which keeps being discussed controversially, and models of interlacement, concluding with a discussion about the use of models as such.

Research in Regensburg includes Armenian manuscripts

Mari Mamyan, post-doc at Beyond Canon_ since 2019 and currently working on her own DFG-project on the Armenian Infancy Gospel, explained how comparing all possible witnesses of one text from different manuscripts and examining all variations, omissions, and additions – e.g., confusion of words graphically resembling each other or of similar sounding words – brings to light new results and aspects of the textual genesis and its variations in translations.

The semantic shift of the word ὥστε, from indicating result to purpose clauses and how it is used in LXX Leviticus and Greek documentary papyri, was presented by Naomi Rey, a promising emerging scholar from TWU, who is doing research on this topic within her Master’s thesis.

Judith König, former PhD student of Tobias Nicklas and currently working on her habilitation thesis research topic, proved the immense relevance of her project for society as a whole, dealing with the question of sexual autonomy in Antiquity and exploring the role of the bible, especially New Testament texts, in the context of sexual autonomy of women. The project was considered having the potential of changing the whole field of New Testament Studies: the bible was and still is used to do and justify great harm – thus, critical studies of the bible cannot be valued highly enough, and in the end, scholars do have responsibility.

With Kyle Parsons’ PhD thesis, the audience followed the tracking of negative reputations in early Christianity, e.g., with the example of receptions of the death of Judas, who can be read quite differently, as negative or tragic figure.

The early career scholars collected reasons for the importance of New Testament Studies. Credit: Charlotte von Schelling/ Beyond Canon_

"But why studying the New Testament?"

The all-encompassing parenthesis of the workshop was the question of relevance of New Testament scholarship today: The competence regarding what “being human” means can be taught by the provided myths to live by as well as the revelation of us as human beings that were viewed as crucial. Critical studies of texts that can unfold danger go hand in hand with responsibilities, damage control, and the possibility of hoping to reverse harm. Understanding history through texts with a context that always needs to be taken into consideration can provide moral and ethical guidance, teach resilience against ideologies, and train social emancipation. Challenging changes with the competence to ask questions can be a way to facilitate peace.

As always, also this exchange between international young researchers from different traditions and countries with the supervising professors provided an ideal opportunity for exchange beyond one's own disciplinary boundaries; the relationships established during this seminar will also be able to be used for more intensive research in the future.


Centre for Advanced Studies Beyond Canon_ (FOR 2770)
UR - University of Regensburg
Universitaetsstraße 31
D-93053 Regensburg

For further information please contact:
Charlotte von Schelling

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