Research strategy 2020-2023 at the Biblical Studies Section
The Section studies the formative writings of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur’an. These scriptures are studied both separately and in terms of their interrelationship. The texts are the most influential writings in the world. They have had an immeasurable impact on the understanding of humankind, society and nature, both past and present. As a result, the study of these texts directly addresses several fundamental academic questions.
The researchers have a dynamic approach to the texts, looking at the various historical, social, literary, etc. preconditions behind them; the different redactional, narrative, rhetorical, etc. structures, layers and levels in them; and the effects and impacts on e.g. the history of events, mentality and research in front of them. The texts are viewed as complex and wide-ranging networks of impacts, relations, conflicts and effects. They are not just shaped by people; they also shape people that are born into their history of effects. The fact that the texts function as holy texts for living people is, therefore, a significant aspect of the Section’s work. The actual use of the texts, both now and in the past, is a priority area for research by the Section.
Approaching the texts in this dynamic and polyphonic way requires a theoretical and methodological pluralism. At least in principle, the exploration of the texts draws on all available and relevant methods and theories that can illuminate their many dimensions. However, the section has a particular focus on philological and historical critical perspectives that enable the adoption of new, critically and hermeneutically reflective approaches.
The Biblical Studies Section therefore operates within the tradition of classical historical criticism, with a particular focus on linguistics, but also integrates new methodologies and new approaches to the written texts, and because of the nature and status of the texts draws on an interdisciplinary network of meaningful configurations.
The Section aims to:
- Ensure continued critical and creative reflection on the foundational writings of religions, cultures and societies, in order to have an informed and qualified perspective on these texts
- Challenge current scholarly, secular and religious ideas
- Provide a classical education, with a view to ensuring a qualified, hermeneutically reflective and critical approach to the texts
- Critically reflect on the role of the texts and of exegesis in relation to religious institutions and political power structures.
- End time studies
Apocalypticism and eschatology are recurring themes throughout the areas covered by the Section. This field therefore combines Old Testament, New Testament and Qur’anic Studies. The Qumran scrolls include examples of the earliest occurrences of the apocalyptic genre. The Section explores the dynamics behind apocalyptic ideas and texts in the three religions, via a number of studies, each with a different theoretical focus, including cognitive. Semitic philology is a crucial element of these studies.
The aim is to establish an externally funded research centre that generates a range of publications, including digitalised versions of some of the Qumran scrolls. In addition to its obvious research benefits, the project serves to further integrate the Section’s academic groups and to develop theoretical and methodological competences in digital humanities and cognitive exegesis.
- Migration, exile and diaspora
A number of studies conducted by the various groups in the Section are gathered under this heading. Different approaches to texts from the Section’s entire corpus shed light on various aspects of the concepts of home and exile. The Section’s researchers employ a number of different new methods, including empirical ones.
The aim is to establish an externally funded research project that will generate multiple publications.
The project aims to shed light on themes that are of great interest to the general public. The research makes use of both traditional approaches and new methods that focus on how the texts are used in specific contexts.
- Language and translation
The Section has a particular focus on language, which it seeks to maintain and expand. It also focuses on the materiality of texts, paying attention to both the manuscripts and books and to the translations, which will be subject to independent studies. This will enhance the Section’s competences and bring them up to date in a new way.
The aim is to develop the theme as a shared focus in the Section, and lead to funding and publications that will position the Section at the centre of a new research area.