Get an overview of the projects currently being worked on in the field of Early Church History. If you would like to learn more about the projects, please get in touch with the contact persons mentioned.

Early Christian Creeds

Faith in Formulae. A Collection of Early Christian Creeds and Creed-related Texts. Edited, translated, and annotated by Wolfram Kinzig, 4 volumes, Oxford University Press. Date of publication 2017. 

The collection will replace August Hahn / Ludwig Hahn, Bibliothek der Symbole und Glaubensregeln der Alten Kirche, third edition, Breslau: E. Morgenstern 1897.

The introduction to this set considers the present state of research in Early Christian creeds. This is followed by a collection of all creeds and credal formulae of the early Church in Greek and Latin, from the writings of the New Testament down to the early Middle Ages. 

For more information contact Professor Wolfram Kinzig.

Projekt Alte Kirchengeschichte_Glaubensbekenntnisse
© Oxford University Press


Kyrill von Alexandrien, Contra Iulianum – edition, translation, commentary

The aim of the project was to produce the first critical edition of the work "Contra Iulianum" of the Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria (about 380-444), the substantial refutation of the emperor's anti-Christian pamphlet. The edition includes the 10 remaining books of the work and its surviving fragments and provides, besides the text, a detailed introduction and apparatuses of variants, sources, und parallel passages. It is supplemented by a translation and commentary to be released in a separate publication. This international project, which was supervised by the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, was funded by the DFG from January 1997 to October 2014 and from November 1997 to August 2006 also by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

In co-operation with our project group, Marie-Odile Boulnois (University of Nantes) also produced a minor edition of the work with French translation for the Sources Chrétiennes.

The critical edition is now published in two volumes by De Gruyter. The annotated translation is coming soon.

Projekt Alte Kirchengeschichte_Kyrill
© De Gruyter

The Council of Ephesus 431

The records of the Third Ecumenical Council which was held in Ephesus in AD 431 offer the most important evidence for all studies dealing with the first stage of the Christological controversies in the fifth century. Their definitive edition, as it is used today, was produced by Eduard Schwartz in 1923-29 and forms the first tome of the series Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum (ACO). The collection not only includes texts documenting the events at and the proceedings of the Council proper, but, by the inclusion of additional texts, even illustrates the entire history of that controversy, which flared up over the question as to whether it was orthodox to call Mary, the Mother of Jesus, ‘God-bearer’: its beginnings in AD 428, the Council proper, which was summoned for clarification of this problem, the agreement that was reached in 433, and the immediate aftermath of the controversy. Within the collection, however, the documents, which comprise almost 1.800 pages of Greek and Latin text, are not printed in chronological order, but are grouped into various individual collections, as they have been preserved by their textual tradition.

This project aims at producing the first modern translation of all documents in Schwartz’ collection, accompanied by introductions and extensive notes. It is envisaged that in the end they will be grouped in such a way that the sequence of the proceedings of the Council itself and of the events surrounding it will immediately become transparent to the reader. The commentary will discuss not only theological, but also historical, intellectual, and philological problems.

Projekt Alte Kirchengeschichte_Ephesus
© Wikimedia Commons

Althoff-Harnack Correspondence

The aim of the project is to publish the correspondence between Friedrich Althoff and Adolf Harnack (1886-1908), accompanied by an introduction, commentary, and index. In his capacity as director of the first Department of Education, Althoff was responsible for universities, libraries, museums, the preservation of historical monuments, and secondary education in Prussia. In turn, Harnack was one of the most influential academics and ‘political scholars’ of Wilhelmine Germany. Their correspondence deals with central aspects of the history of science, education, universities, politics, and mentalities of that period and thus allows an in-depth study of the expansion and diversification of German Higher Education in the second half of the nineteenth century.

It shows in particular
(1) that university administration was gradually professionalized and modernized due to the growing influence of Prussian bureaucracy on higher education;
(2) that, as a result, the state control of the system of appointments of professors increased while the traditional autonomy of the universities in this area was increasingly disregarded;
(3) that institutions for national and international academic cooperation were systematically expanded;
(4) that certain academic disciplines were targeted for promotion;
(5) that private funds were attracted for the sponsorship of research within and outside universities;
(6) that, finally, Althoff had established an elaborate network of contacts which was typical of his working method (Bernhard vom Brocke, Hochschule- und Wissenschaftspolitik in Preußen und im Deutschen Kaiserreich 1882-1907. Das "System Althoff," in: Baumgart, Peter (ed.), Bildungspolitik in Preußen zur Zeit des Kaiserreichs (Preußen in der Geschichte 1), Stuttgart 1980, pp. 9-118; here: S. 69)

Projekt Alte Kirchengeschichte_Briefwechsel
© Wikimedia Commons

Bonn Cluster of Excellence

The project "Dependency in the Late-antique and Early Medieval Western Church" seeks to focus on both structures of dependency within the late antique and early medieval western Church (4th-8th centuries) and on similar structures linking the Church of this period with its surrounding societies.

While overall hierarchies within the Church (e.g. Church offices) have largely been researched, these internal and external structures and levels of dependency have not yet gained much attention.

The focus of research will thus be, on the one hand, on dependencies and inter-agencies between individual holders of office on the different tiers of Church hierarchy, and, on the other hand, on the external structures of dependency, i.e. in the interaction of Church clergy and members of society (both Christian laity and non-Christians).

It is suggested that these dependency relations have contributed towards the growth of the Church’s social and political influence and economic power within late antique and early medieval societies.

Projekt Alte Kirchengeschichte_Dependency
© Bonn Center for Dependeny and Slavery Studies

Project Details

While the traditional view on these power structures is based mainly on normative texts (such as canon or secular law, synodal decisions, church orders, or statements of doctrine) which represent idealized views of order within Church and society, the project aims at gaining insight into the praxeological dimensions of the said dependency structures. Including additional evidence (such as letters, sermons, liturgies, the lives of saints and bishops, charters, inscriptions, archeological findings, pagan and ecclesiastical histories, etc.) will allow for a closer approximation to social reality.

The project will focus on the relationship between agents and dependants, studying a) the Church’s exercise of power through the tiers of its hierarchy (top-down), and b) its repercussions (bottom-up). The research project contains the following subfields: (1) agency and dependency among the clergy, (2) doctrinal norms and their implementation, (3) ethical norms and their implementation, (4) Church as social space, (5) Church jurisdiction, and secular governance, (6) the Church as economical agent.

Professor Dr. Wolfram Kinzig, Dr. Julia Winnebeck, and two PhD students will each carry out individual research projects contributing to a greater understanding of structures of dependency in the late antique and early medieval Western Church.

All of these projects are part of the Bonn Cluster of Excellence Beyond Slavery and Freedom: Asymmetric Dependencies in pre-modern societies24.

Dissertation Projects

Get to know the dissertation projects currently being worked on in the field of Early Church History at the Department of Church History of the Faculty of Protestant Theology. In the following overview you will also find recently completed projects.

© Volker Lannert / Universität Bonn

Dissertation Projects

Dissertation project of Nathalie Kröger.

Coming soon.

See also

Prof. Dr. Wolfram Kinzig

Get to know Professor Dr. Kinzig, head of the Subdepartment of Early Church History.


Get to know the team of the Subdepartment of Early Church History.

Department of Church History

Get an overview of the Department of Church History and its subdepartments.

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