Many religious communities relate their practises to scriptures considered holy. Nonetheless, these texts require interpretation, and which methods to choose can become precarious as soon as the legitimacy of non-religions techniques of interpretation is called into question. In the Mediterranean, interpretive methods of Hellenic origin coexisted with Jewish and Christian hermeneutics. Encounters, conflicts and efforts of demarcations lead to new or more defined text genres, forms and methods of interpretation, which could indeed culminate in new syntheses. In this process, dealing with holy scriptures called for educated authors – as well as addressees who themselves already required a certain amount of education in order to be able to receive this kind of religious teaching.
Sub-project B 01 deals with Biblical exegesis in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The focus is on the pescharim (pNahum, pJesaja, pPsalmen) and aims at answering four research questions: 1) what is the place of the pescharim commentaries in relation to the interpretation going on in the literary development of the relevant Biblical books; 2) how do they compare to further exegetical literature in Qumran; 3) how do they fit in against the background of Ancient Near Eastern and Hellenistic educational traditions and commentaries, and 4) what is the institutional framework for transmitting the exegetical works as part of general education?
Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Florian Wilk
Research Fellows: Konrad Otto, Dr. Dr. Loïc Berge, Christina Bünger, Dr. Eduard Käfer, J. Andrew Cowan Ph.D.
Scriptural Exegesis as Educational Process in Paul’s Letters
The aim of this project is to understand Paul’s use and exegesis of the “Scriptures” – and especially of the Moses-exodus-tradition – in his letters to the Corinthians as a process of religious education. To this end, the scriptural references are to be identified, categorized and analyzed with regard to their presuppositions, their place in Paul’s arguments and their relationship to other interpretations of the time. In this way it can be ascertained what the addressees are taught about the authority and the content of “Scripture” and about the ways of reading it – and how this process helps them in defining their religious identity.
Christian Oriental Studies
Principal Investigator: PD Dr. Dmitrij Bumazhnov
Research Fellow: Sofia Fomicheva
Scriptural Exegesis and Religious Polemics in Syriac Texts in Late Antiquity
The sub-project investigates possible interrelations between biblical exegesis (Ephrem the Syrian, Theodore of Mopsuestia) and anti-Jewish polemics (Aphrahat, Isaac of Antioch, Narsai and others) mainly in the East Syriac Christian literature (4th–6th centuries). Moreover, it deals with the relevance of these two text categories for Christian polemics in Syriac against Islam in 7th–8th century (especially in Theodore bar Konai as well as in anti-Islamic apocalypses, apologies, and historiographical writings).
Egyptology / Coptology
Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Heike Behlmer
Research Fellow: So Miyagawa, Julien Delhez
Scriptural Exegesis and Educational Traditions in Coptic-Speaking Egyptian Christianity in Late Antiquity: Shenoute, Canon 6
The project examines the reception and the exegesis of the Bible in texts from Egypt's cenobitic monasticism, with a focus on the works of the abbot Shenoute († 465). The aim of the study is fourfold: to explore the exegetical and rhetorical strategies of the abbot, in particular, the grammar and pragmatics of biblical quotations, to understand the relationship between author and recipients, to analyse their respective level of education and to trace the interaction between Christian, Ancient Egyptian and Classical/Hellenistic educational traditions in Shenoute’s exegetical practice.
Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Shlomo Naeh, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Jewish Thought
Early Rabbinic Hermeneutics: Methods and Development