The Collaborative Research Centre investigates constellations of education and religion in Greco-Roman religion, Judaism, Christianity and Islam from the 5th century BCE to the 13th century CE. Research is guided by the assumption that investigating the relationship of education and religion will provide deeper insights into cultural, social, and religious dynamics which were fundamental in these cultures and religions; moreover, this research agenda will also be instrumental in revealing the historical roots of contemporary debates about education and religion. ‘Education’ will be conceptualized by differentiating processes of socialisation, education and the development of critical reflection on God, the world, and the self. ‘Religion’ comprises discourses, practices, and institutions which are based on the presupposition of the relationship to a being beyond human everyday experience. These concepts allow for an analysis of phenomena and constellations, employing typological as well as genealogical comparisons. This will be pursued within four project areas: storehouses of education, interpretations, communications and discourses.
Archaeology of Ancient Libraries: Religion, Representation, Storerooms of Knowledge
The sub-project investigates the archaeological and literary sources for Greco-Roman libraries by virtue of a new and comprehensive approach and interprets them with respect to both the contextualization of storerooms of knowledge within sanctuaries and imperial representation. In doing so, the question arises whether the localization, e.g., of Hellenistic libraries in sacred contexts served as prefiguration of the relationship of libraries and Christian cultic practices in Late Antiquity and medieval times. Also the integration of thermal baths as a precursor of the interconnection between bath and library in the Middle Ages will be discussed. Thereby it will be clarified whether ancient libraries – considering their functioning – should be regarded as a preliminary stage for later ensembles of storerooms of knowledge or whether they should rather be studied following a transcultural comparative approach.
The project investigates the interactions of education and religion in the case of several important early Christian libraries; continuities and discontinuities vis-à-vis their non-Christian predecessors will be documented by a comprehensive coverage of the relevant literary and archaeological evidence. Three paradigmatic cases will be studied: 1. the establishment of the school and library of Origen in Caesarea; 2. the transformation of the Bibliotheca Pacis (Rome) into the ecclesiastical building complex St. Cosmas and Damian; 3. the establishment of the (library and educational institution) Vivarium of Cassiodorus in Calabria.
Pagan Religion and Philosophy in ‘Virtual Libraries‘: Late Antique Compendia and Encyclopaedic Works
The project investigates various forms of the literarisation of pagan religious traditions in selected late antique compendia and encyclopaedic works. In doing so, it takes into account the full pagan religious panorama, including philosophy. Mechanisms of selection and condensation of knowledge about religion are analysed with regard to their impact on late antique pagan religiosity and to their embeddedness in conceptions of education and culture on the one hand, and to their importance for the construction and transmission of alternative worldviews in the Middle Ages on the other hand.
Religious Reception and Christian Transformation of Non-Religious Knowledge in the Carolingian Era
The project is focused on the Carolingian period and aims to reconstruct communication and transformation processes of non-religious knowledge in the fields of the Septem Artes and medicine that had been passed on in schools and by scholars since the Antiquity. In particular, the research will be focused on the re-interpretation of traditions of knowledge and education under Christian auspices on the one hand, and the use of this knowledge for representative and pragmatic purposes by the Carolingian rulers on the other hand. The subjects in concern are both the corpus of non-religious texts communicated at schools and collected in monastic and court libraries as well as the architectural ensembles of schools and libraries which were located at the court in Aachen and in palaces and monasteries all over the Frankish realm.
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, Eduard Käfer
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.
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 Fellows: 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
Enlightened Men – Superstitious Women? Religion, Education and Stereotypes of Gender in Classical Athens
The project investigates the intermediaries, processes of mediation and recipients of religious education in classical Athens (5th/4th century B.C.), paying particular attention to gender issues. It examines male and female agents, places and social contexts of religious education in a polytheistic culture. The question of “right” and “wrong” (possibly even criminalized) forms and contents of religious education for men and women brings to the fore the fundamental relationship between education and religion in Ancient Greece as well as their importance for the functioning of the Greek polis.
The Ancients in Mind: Religious and Antiquarian Transfer of Knowledge in the Educational Compendia of the Second Century CE
Starting from an exemplary analysis of three educational miscellanies from the second century A.D. (Plutarch, Quaestiones Romanae et Graecae; Gellius, Noctes Atticae; Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae), the project focuses on aspects of religion as addressed and discussed in the overall context of each of these works. Taking into account the didactic intentions these compendia pursue, the communicative strategies they employ and the imagined spatial and situational settings they introduce, the project focuses in particular on the marked antiquarian interest, with which these works draw on `the cultural heritage of ancient religion´ throughout.
Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Peter Gemeinhardt
Research Fellows: Dr. Maria Louise Munkholt Christensen, Olga Lorgeoux (associated), Nicolas Anders, Lina Hantel
Communication of Education in Late Antique Christianity: Teachers’ Roles in Parish, Family and Ascetical Community
The sub-project focuses on Christian teachers (male and female) in Late Antiquity in different contexts: the catechumenate (bishops and catechetical teachers), the family (particularly women) and the eremitic movement (teachers with charismatic instead of formal authorization). The shape of teachers’ roles will be investigated as well as their interaction and possible conflicts between ecclesiastical and – so to speak – independent communicators of religious education. Finally, the limits of human agency in communicating the faith will be dealt with.
Church History, Religious Education
Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Peter Gemeinhardt, Prof. Dr. Bernd Schröder
Research Fellows: Christoph Birkner, Elisabeth Hohensee, Olga Lorgeoux (associated), Lena Moritz
The Christian Catechumenate from Late Antiquity to Early Medieval Times and Its Reception in Modern Pedagogics of Religion
The sub-project which will be jointly carried out by scholars of Church History and Pedagogics of Religion intends a) to collect and interpret patristic and early medieval sources for the so-called catechumenate (concentrating upon the 4th to 7th centuries) and b) to investigate the reception of the ancient catechumenate in Catechetics and Religious Education in the 19th and 20th centuries. It focuses thus a) on the development of the catechumenate in terms of an educational process and its importance for theology and congregational practice in patristic times and b) on the modes of reception and the impact of historical knowledge of the catechumenate in modern religious educational thought.
Research Fellow: Dr. Elisabetta Abate
Emotions in the Mishnah
Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Marc Hirshman, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The Melton Centre of Jewish Education
Educational Practices in Rabbinic Literature
Religion occupies a prominent place in Cicero’s educational program. Making it a central topic of several of his philosophical dialogues, Cicero establishes a link between philosophy and religion. This project’s main aim is to address the question of how arrangement of discourse and religious knowledge interact in Cicero’s works as well as the questions concerning his independence from his Greek precursors.
Religion in Educated Discourse: The Evangelist Luke and the Orator Dion of Prusa
Like no other text of New Testament scriptures Luke-Acts demonstrates the endeavor of Early Christianity to impart its message to the educated circles of the Greco-Roman world. At the same time, rhetoric popularizes a philosophy which turns its attention more and more towards religious topics. Therefore, contemporary rhetoric and especially Dion as its most important representative in early imperial times lends itself to analyze the chances and limitations of Early Christian inculturation into the educated world of Later Antiquity.
Arabic / Islamic Studies
Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Sebastian Günther
Research Fellow: Dr. Yassir El Jamouhi, Ali Rida Rizek, Enrico Boccaccini, Christian Mauder
Ethical Instruction as Educational Discourse: The Muslim Moral Philosopher and Historian Miskawaih (d. 1030) between Reception and Transformation
This project analyzes the oeuvre of the classical Muslim scholar Miskawaih from two perspectives. On the one hand, it examines how the ideas of ancient pagan and early Jewish, Christian and Muslim authorities on ethics and education were received, adapted, and re-contextualized by Miskawaih from the standpoint of his own views on God, humanity, and the world. On the other hand, it studies Miskawaih’s use of discourse in communicating his own key ideas concerning ethics and education, and shows how these teachings were received and further developed by later Muslim scholars.
Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Tobias Georges
Research Fellow: Malte Rumkamp
Profiling Religious Identity in Learned Discourses. The Role of Education in References of 12th-century Christian Authors to Jews and Muslims
There are numerous writings from the 12th century in which western Christians refer to Jews and Muslims, often in the literary form of a dialogue. The topic of ‘education’ is often explored in that context. Starting from selected authors and their writings (Petrus Alfonsi: Dialogus; Petrus Venerabilis: Contra sectam Sarracenorum, Adversus Iudaeorum inveteratam duritiem; Petrus Abaelardus: Collationes), this sub-project will, in an exemplary manner, study what function education had in such references to Jews and Muslims.