Panel 1. Bible between Academy, Religious Communities, and Society: Reports from the Centers of Christianity Globally

An ecumenical panel of early career scholars from three different regional-cultural centers of Christianity will open the symposium with short provocations addressing the questions: Why do we study the Bible academically? How does this help us? What challenges, tensions, or problems does academic study of the Bible create ecclesiologically, socially, or academically in our situation?

Panel 2. Bible between Academy, Religious Communities, and Society: A Question of Method

It is a truism to say that exegesis comprises a wide range of methods: The “classical” canon of historical-critical methods is nowadays flanked by many “engaged” approaches such as feminist, post-colonial, queer or ecological hermeneutics. One gets the overall impression, however, that these approaches rather coexist than really cooperate. This panel aims at a meta-reflection on this phenomenon, including consideration of the reasons for this situation and what can we do about it. Questions to be addressed include: To what extent are methods culturally bound and/or products of specific socio-historical developments? Or, more concretely, given the fact that historical-critical methods are a European invention, how can they be made compatible with non-Western cultures, and is it even necessary to do that? What is the status of contextual and post-colonial interpretations within the field of exegesis, and what exactly can we learn from them? How can we make use of new trends in neighboring disciplines, such as Digital Humanities? In what ways are or could methods be combined?

Panel 3. Academy: Parsing the Study of Bible by Institutional Context

Scholarly exegesis of the Bible takes place in a variety of systemic and institutional contexts, each of which operate on the basis of presuppositions that can fundamentally impact the way the Bible is handled. This panel seeks to make these implicit, often impervious backgrounds explicit in order to understand the conditions in which exegesis is undertaken in various academic systems around the world. More concretely the panel brings together presenters from various global perspectives who can speak about their own contexts by reflecting on questions such as: In what sorts of institutions is exegesis practiced and taught? How do these institutions relate to other academic institutions or disciplines? Is exegesis practiced and taught at religious or secular institutions? If religious, which religious confessions are present and how do they interact? How are these institutions regulated legally and how is the academic-cultural position of exegesis negotiated politically? What is the historical background to the socio-political and institutional position of exegesis in that context? And finally, in what concrete ways have exegetical debates or exegetical questions been influenced by this contextualization?

Keynote: Comparing and Combining Methods of Exegesis 


Panel 4.  Religious Communities: On the Confessional Construction of Bible 

Exegesis deals with the Bible. But what exactly is a Bible how do concepts of “Bible” impact the ways it is to be read and interpreted? It seems obvious that this question depends on the denominational background, beginning with the fact that there is no consensus on the exact extent of the OT canon between Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christians. This may lead to the question of how “Jewish”, “Catholic”, “Protestant”, “Orthodox” or “Pentecostal” exegesis might be described. On the other hand, it might be worth asking to what extent these respective approaches to “Bible” also depend on cultural backgrounds: If we ask how, when, by whom, and with what intentions the Bible is read, the answers might differ significantly from country to country. For example, in what ways is exegesis understood to be an academic discipline or not? When it is, should it matter at all whether a text is “sacred” or not? These are some of the questions to be discussed in this panel – from international and ecumenical perspectives.

Panel 5. Society: Scientific Transfer and Exegetical Knowledge for Whom and for What?

The communication of academic results to the public faces a number of challenges, especially when it comes to religious themes. Biblical exegesis in particular encounters various receptions in church and society, whether it is given pride of place in doing theology (à la a classical Protestant understanding of the sola scriptura principle), whether its historical claims are received as harmful to faith, whether its relevance is completely doubted, or whether the Bible and its interpretation is put to political use. In this panel we want to ask how academic exegesis is situated vis-a-vis church and society in different scientific and cultural settings and how it communicates to these different publics. This topic can be approached from a variety of angles, whether in terms of inner-theological discourses themselves (e.g., What does exegesis have to do with systematic or practical theology?); in terms of teaching methods (e.g., How is exegesis taught and for what purposes, and what should student exegetes be able to do with their findings when they go on to teach or preach?); or in terms of communication of exegetical knowledge to society at large (e.g., How does society know about the Bible? Where are biblical contents presented in society? Who communicates this knowledge and in what contexts? To what extent are books on the Bible accessible and what kind of quality do they have?).


Panel 6. Possible futures: What will Bible Do between Academy, Religious Communities, and Society?

The final panel of the symposium will feature a series of future-oriented papers written by outstanding current doctoral students, scholars with their fingers on the pulse of exegesis and with diagnostic insight into the vitality of academic research on, with, and in Bible. The panel is devoted to two basic questions: Why do scholars continue to conduct research on the Bible today, and why will scholars read the Bible in the future? Within this framing, more specific questions will include: Are scholars who conduct research on the Bible interested in the Bible in and of itself (and if so, on what kind of understanding of canon or of the Bible’s importance is this interest based?), or are they interested in the Bible because of how the Bible refers to or reflects on other issues (and then what are those other issues? Cultural and societal? Existential? Philosophical? How are those categories constructed and “found” in the ancient texts of the Bible?)? This panel strongly encourages bold, vector-charting proposals that are constructively (self-)critical of past approaches, insightful of present cultural and institutional conditionalities of Biblical research, and that approach possible futures of exegesis in creative, norm-bending ways.