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Research focus

Mirja Kutzer

  • Theological Anthropology
  • Theological epistemology
  • Methods/categories of cultural studies in systematic theology
  • Theology and Literature
  • Feminist systematic theology and gender studies
  • Theology of Love

Mareike Schlehahn

  • Emotions in theological ethics

Johannes Thüne

  • 'Mystical' theology
  • History of Theology

Supervised doctorates


Mareike Schlehahn: Who judges, lets his emotions be silent? On the Relevance of a Current Moral-Philosophical Debate for Theological Ethics
Lisa Thiel: Baptism of Minors? Infant Baptism in Ecumenical Dialogue and Theology
Johannes Thüne: 'Mystical' Theology in Epigrams. On the Theological System of Thought of Angelus Silesius


Manuel Raabe: "God Was Never on Your Side!" Images of God and Criticism of Religion in Rock and Metal Music - submitted August 2018.
Viva on May 9, 2019

Research Seminars

Feminist theology has always been more than a theology by women for women. Starting from the concrete experiences of people and especially of women, feminist theologians were concerned from the beginning with making often strictly drawn boundaries permeable: between science and social practice, between abstract thinking and spirituality, between theological jargon and everyday language, between man and nature. The fruit of this are theologies that take a look at concrete, everyday life and in the process put it to the acid test: What do faith and theology do in people's lives?

With theologians such as the Dutch Maaike de Haardt, the US-American Elizabeth Johnson or the Brazilian Marcella Althaus-Reid, the research seminar is dedicated to outstanding feminist theologians from different parts of the world.

"Sacred Times" - Systematic-Theological Perspectives

Religions structure temporality. They rhythmize the course of days and years, create interruptions or standardize the general relationship to time - for example, by putting time under tension with the expectation of a dawning end or by characterizing earthly time as provisional and time of transition. The Christian approaches to temporality today stand in contrast to a currently dominant conception of time, according to which time runs on and on along a linear timeline, is economically available, and any event loses meaning because it is simply "over" at some point. The seminar deals with different conceptions of temporality from a systematic-theological perspective, primarily from Christianity, but also from Judaism and Islam. The seminar integrates several guest lectures, which can also be attended separately as part of the lecture series "Sacred Times".

Sustainability and justice - on the (theological) connection of two dimensions.

Since Lynn T. White's famous article The historical roots of our ecological crisis from 1966, Christianity in its interpretation of the Bible has been held jointly responsible for the ecological crisis. It is not only the dominion mandate of Gen 1:28 that is laid to its charge. Even more fundamentally, it is the talk of man as the crown of creation and an anthropocentrism derived from it, which constructs nature as a counterpart and has fundamentally severed the connection between man and the world surrounding him. With far-reaching consequences. If Christianity is now held responsible for the ecological crisis in this way - can it also contribute to overcoming it?

Here it is not only necessary to tie in with traditions of Christianity, which indicate an interdependence of creation and mankind and which are currently being reconsidered. What is central here is above all the linking of sustainability to justice and the enabling of life possibilities. In this, the topic of sustainability opens up theologically from a perspective that Documenta 15, with its conceptual title Lumbung , places at the center. The encounter with contemporary art is to be understood as locus theologicus . It is a place where rehearsed habits of seeing and thinking can be unlearned and sensitivities can be gained anew, in order to gain a new view of Christian traditions from there. Conversely, the debates on sustainability and justice are also permeated by religious motifs, and the planned exhibition in the Elisabethkirche is a prime example of this interchange.

In the seminar, students will be sensitized to the connections between sustainability and justice through the elaboration and discussion of relevant theological positions as well as the examination of concrete works of art. The aim is to enable them to critically evaluate current sustainability debates and to argue for a genuine theological contribution.

Time and justice

The connection between the concepts of time and justice can be illustrated with a few questions: How seriously does one take injustice if time simply moves forward until all that has been done and suffered sinks into oblivion? On the other hand, how heavy do relationships and actions weigh if everything were to recur over and over again? Finally, how urgent does the work for justice seem if it is expected from an otherworldly future? Given the repercussions of conceptions of time on the interpretation of the world and action in it, the New Political Theology in particular, and notably Johann Baptist Metz, has criticized the view of a linear time without time limit that has become dominant in modern times, contrasting it with biblical conceptions of a time limited, even apocalyptic, that require memory and objection.

The research seminar will focus on conceptions of time from philosophy and theology, including Walter Benjamin, Giorgio Agamben, Johann Baptist Metz, and Kurt Appel. There will also be the opportunity to present and discuss ongoing qualification work.

Jacques Dupuis - A Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism

The question of the theological recognition of non-Christian religions is one of the currently pressing issues. However, the "theology of religions", which deals with this topic, seems to have come to a kind of standstill at present. Inclusivism and pluralism mark two positions between which the border of orthodoxy and heresy is identified. But the question is by no means off the table: Would an actual opening of Christianity to other religions be conceivable without running the risk of losing the genuinely Christian?

The Belgian Jesuit and theologian Jacques Dupuis (1923-2004) gave impulses whose potentials are only slowly being discovered, at least in German-speaking countries. In his central work Towards a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism he understands religions as God-given richness, which must not be "endured" but positively evaluated out of deepest Christian conviction.

The research seminar is devoted to the reading of central sections of this book. 

Racism and Religion

At the beginning of the new millennium, a "new religious intolerance" (Martha Nussbaum) can be discerned in Western, democratic states: People experience personal or institutional discrimination, up to and including physical violence, because of a religious affiliation that is visible or even ascribed to them. The increase in anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic crimes in Germany is only the tip of the iceberg. More fundamental are (culturally) racist attitudes that attribute or deny certain characteristics to members of minority religions and infer corresponding behavior toward them. Such attitudes are also represented with reference to "Christian values" and can also be found in Christian, for example right-wing Catholic circles up to high-ranking church officials. The research seminar explores the basic manifestations, thought strategies and motives of religious racism, sheds light on theoretical explanatory models and discusses counter-strategies.

Telling God - Narrative Theology

Christian theology must be a narrative theology. For only a narrative theology does not disconnect itself from the events of history. And only narrative is capable of keeping alive the memory of its victims. With these theses on a narrative theology, the recently deceased Johann Baptist Metz had turned against forms of systematic theology that seek to transfer the content of Christianity into the timelessness of the concept or discursively composed systems. But are narrative texts really an alternative theological form of thought to established discursivity? How do they shape theological content? How should we evaluate the fact that the majority of biblical texts are (fictional) narratives? And what are narratives in general? To answer these questions, the research seminar deals with theological positions on narrative theology, but also with literary narratology and philosophical theories of narrative, and tests them on the basis of biblical texts.

(Gender) Diversity and Justice

The life worlds of today's people, children, adolescents, adults are (more or less strongly) permeated by diversity. Some of these diversities have always shaped coexistence, such as the difference between the sexes, which has been dramatized differently throughout the ages. Others are coming into focus again today due to the growing together of cultures in a globalized world characterized by migration and the pluralization of society.

Diversity becomes a topic of theology not least because it inevitably raises the question of justice: for diversity demands that justice take into account the fact that the same does not mean the same for people in different situations. From a theological perspective, diversity is not unproblematic from the outset. The theological tradition, in its engagement with various philosophical systems, has understood diversity primarily as deviation from the true and the good. This still shapes the rather negative assessment of diversity today - for example, in the reservations about different life plans (in contrast to the classical family ideal) or the persistent adherence to gender stereotypes.

The upper seminar will deal with various philosophical and theological texts on the current discussion about diversity, including Homi Bhabha, Gayatri Spivak, Judith Butler, Pope Francis, Kwok Pui Lan, Mayra Rivera Rivera.

Desire (appetitus, desiderium) is a basic category in Christian theological discourse about man. Man is not enough for himself. He desires things, other people, in order to achieve a feeling of wholeness, of fullness, of meaning. Ultimately, as the Christian tradition has described it since Augustine at the latest, man finds this fulfillment in God. Desire, which has to do with sexual desire but means something more comprehensive, thus becomes the key to the relationship with God.

At present, however, desire also plays a central role in secular, psychoanalytically inspired philosophies and cultural theories. As a permanent search for meaning, desire makes human beings culturally productive, lets them search for new possibilities of expression and meaning. The seminar searches for connections between the theological as well as the philosophical-cultural scientific thematizations of desire on the basis of relevant texts, including Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Sigmund Freud, Julia Jacques Lacan, Gilles Deleuze.

The Constitution on Revelation of the Second Vatican Council Dei Verbum has further defined revelation as God's self-communication. God does not primarily communicate something , that is, not or at least not primarily certain contents. Rather, revelation means a personal encounter. This encounter, in turn, is essentially communicated through texts - those of the Bible, but also the theological and spiritual texts of the history of Christianity. But how can it be reasonably thought that in the reading of texts another person, that God is encountered? To make this plausible, the seminar will refer to current textual theories and discuss their applicability to theological/biblical texts.

The question of how to deal with the foreign is one of the central issues of our time. In a globalized world, the foreigner does not remain "outside" and one oneself is increasingly seldom "at home. People who perceive and name each other as "different" have to find ways to live with or next to each other. In the process, the stranger appears as fascinating as it is threatening. In a disconcerting way, as the French philosopher and psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva notes, the stranger is within ourselves. He is the hidden side of our self and prevents us from forming fixable I or we identities. After all, as biblically documented many times, God shows himself as a stranger, in the stranger. If we consistently close ourselves off from the stranger - how then to encounter God?
The research seminar deals with philosophical and theological texts on the stranger (e.g. Arendt, Camus, Kristeva, Spivak, Levinas, Appel). Prerequisite is the independent reading of the texts, which will then be discussed in the sessions.  

The phenomena of power pose an inescapable challenge to theology. Christianity organizes a world relationship. It makes an offer of orientation for human beings who are looking for guidelines for their actions. In the light of faith, power relations appear as legitimate or illegitimate, experience confirmation or criticism. The peculiarity of monotheistic religions to refer to an absolute is perceived as extraordinarily productive of power. How are the connections to power concretized? With which concept of power can they be traced? How do different Christian denominations deal with this topic? The seminar explores these questions by reading selected texts, among others by Michel Foucault, Jan Assmann and L.V. Litvinova.