Church History Section
The Church History Section has a double scholarly profile. It combines classical textual sources and questions (intellectual history of Christianity and history of the institutional church within culture and society) with more aesthetic source-material and questions (the role of literature, music, architecture and art within Christianity). The Section carries out research in the history of Christianity from ancient times until today.
This double profile lies at the back of a row of specific research themes dealt with at the Section: Christian historical narratives and their meaning for national self-conceptions; Christian life within and withdrawn from the world; the cultural heritage of Christian rituals; theological anthropology and its aesthetic framework in language, images and music; synergy between politics/law and theology in early modern and modern times and finally global encounters between Christianity and other religions and cultures.
These research themes go across the following research fields that have traditionally enjoyed special attention at the Section: Research in Medieval Theology, Luther-research, research in Christianity and the Arts, research in Danish Church History and research in Global Christianity.
In the years to come research fields such as Reformation theology, Danish Church History and History of Christianity and the Arts will be strengthened through the achievements of the Danish National Research Foundation Centre of Privacy Studies (2017-2023). Church History is one of the Centre’s four core disciplines (the other are History of Architecture, Legal History and History of Ideas). The on-going exchange and collaboration between the Centre and the Church History Section will contribute to scholarly developments at the Centre as well as the Section.
Read more about Centre of Privacy Studies (PRIVACY)
It is a characteristic of the Section that besides specific research interests every staff member is obliged to teach the entire history of Christianity from ancient times to today. This obligation contributes to establishing a fruitful specialist environment within a broad historical framework.
- The rationality of faith and the science of theology in the Late Middle Ages (Lauge Olaf Nielsen)
Religion, historiography and cultural encounters in the Middle Ages (Baltic area) (Carsten Selch Jensen)
Christianity's attitude to violence and the use of violence in history (Carsten Selch Jensen)
Monastic life as an interpretation of existence in the history of the church (Mette Birkedal Bruun)
The history of the Reformation, the theology behind it and the history of its reception (Steffen Kjeldgaard-Pedersen, Anna Vind og Sven Rune Havsteen)
Theological anthropology in Luther’s thought, and it’s aesthetic framework (Steffen Kjeldgaard-Pedersen og Anna Vind)
Notions and forms of seclusion in Early Modern devotional culture (Mette Birkedal Bruun og Lars Nørgaard)
Praxis pietatis and artistic culture, especially music, in the Lutheran tradition (16th-18th centuries) (Sven Rune Havsteen)
The Moravian church in Denmark (Tine Reeh)
Christian historiography in the Enlightenment period (Tine Reeh)
Christianity, law and psychiatry in 18th century lutheranism (Tine Reeh)
Christianity, history and power in West Africa from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century (Niels Kastfelt)
Christianity as a world religion (Niels Kastfelt)
Research Strategy 2020-2023 at the Church History Section
- Targeted development and strengthening of the activities in the four research fields that reflect the Section’s academic breadth, based on of the overall aim of approaching church history as a tension between thought and tangible materiality.
- Development of the theological and interdisciplinary methodological foundation for the subject area
- Strengthening research collaboration and exchanges, both within and beyond the Section.
- Ancient Church and Late Antiquity
Isolation, sociality, space and movement in the culture of theology and religious history; Christianity and mediality.
Topics: Processions and urban spaces in late antiquity; principles of isolation in early monastic culture; musical understanding and the use of classical rhetoric in early Christianity; piety culture and ritual practices.
- High and Late Middle Ages
Theology and philosophy; academic and religious culture; Christianity and holy wars.
Topics: Medieval theology and philosophy and its interactions with academic and religious culture (e.g. the culture of the orders); the Reformation’s roots in scholastic theology, mystical theology and Renaissance humanism; the Cistercians; the Crusades, missions and power politics in German and Nordic Middle Ages.
- Early Modern Era
The interplay between theology, philosophy, historiography, history of ideas, art, music, architecture, law and psychiatry between 1500 and 1800.
Topics: Luther’s theology, the Reformation in Germany and Denmark, Luther reception and the history of Lutheranism in Denmark; theological aesthetics in Protestant culture: the relationship between theology, poetry and music; interdisciplinary studies in privacy, 1500–1800; the relationship between Lutheran theology and law during the Enlightenment; the Moravians in and outside Denmark; the relationship between Lutheranism and psychiatry in the 18th century.
- 19th and 20th century
Global church history, mission history, church and national identity; holy wars; religion and secularism; cultural heritage; theology and gender; the reception history of the Reformation.
Topics: Christianity in Nigeria with a particular focus on Bachama; studies in African Church historiography; nationalism and historiography in Orthodox Church communities; the relationship between nationalism, Christianity and the notion of holy war in contemporary Western currents of thought and political positions; understandings of Christianity and politics in Denmark with special reference to theological arguments for and against secularisation; female theologians and the ordination of women; Danish and German Luther research and Luther reception.