From 7 to 9 October 2015, twenty scholars from nine universities took part in the interdisciplinary conference 'Scriptural Interpretation at the Interface between Education und Religion' hosted by the Department of New Testament Studies at the University of Göttingen and held at Mariaspring.
Over almost two decades, scholars in biblical and religious studies from the universities of Durham, Göttingen and Groningen have met every second year in order to jointly explore 'Themes in Biblical Narrative' (TBN). Now, this well-established partnership has been put on an even broader basis.
The meeting was integrated into the U4 network so that junior scholars from Ghent and Uppsala were able to join the TBN-team. Moreover, the conference was part of the research programme of the Collaborative Research Centre 'Education and Religion in Cultures of the Mediterranean and Its Environment from Ancient to Medieval Times and to the Classical Islam' which made it possible to involve experts from other universities (such as Munich and Durham, NC) as well.
The topic of the Conference was also linked to the 100th anniversary of the birthday of Hans Conzelmann, professor of New Testament studies at the Faculty of Theology in Göttingen from 1960 to 1978. He is one of the most famous Biblical scholars of Göttingen who enhanced the knowledge with regard to the relationship between education and religion in antiquity. Thanks to the funding in context with the U4 network, the organizers were able to invite Prof. Andreas Lindemann (Bethel) to give a public lecture on Conzelmann's work in the field.
Research has demonstrated that an in-depth analysis of the Spannungsfeld between education and religion is fundamental to a better understanding of the religious, cultural, and intellectual developments which started in antiquity and have extend over the centuries up to the present. In this context, the topic of scriptural interpretation is of vital importance. In late antiquity, religion was connected to authoritative scriptures in one way or the other. This was especially true for Judaism and Christianity. Their holy scriptures had to be interpreted; and interpretation required education, knowledge as well as exegetical skills. What were the hermeneutical principles and interpretative techniques that guided the application of scriptures to religious practice? What role played scriptural interpretation in situations of crisis and interreligious debates, and how did such debates affect interpretative strategies? In what ways was the authority of the learned interpreter secured in relation to his addressees?
The papers presented during the conference dealt with these questions – tackling, e.g., the methods of translation, the application of ethical norms, the reception of exegetical standards developed in foreign cultures or the educational dimension of textual communities – and lead to lively discussions. This way, the meeting fostered scholarly understanding of the function of scriptural interpretation at the interface between education and religion. The papers will therefore be assembled into a conference volume within the renowned TBN-series, edited by Prof. George van Kooten from Groningen and published by Brill in Leiden (Netherlands).
Prof. Dr. Florian Wilk
University of Göttingen
Faculty of Theology
Platz der Göttinger Sieben 2
+49 - 551 - 397123