On September 1st, 2011, Prof. Christoph Markschies was made an honorary Doctor of Theology at the University of Oslo. The article is based on his Honorary Degree Acceptance Lecture, delivered on September 2nd at the Faculty of Theology. Markschies is since 2004 professor of Early Church History at the Humboldt University of Berlin. From 2006 to 2010 he was also the President of the Humboldt University. During the past 15 years, he has succeeded in a remarkable way to combine outstanding achievements within his field of research with a continuous presence in broader public debates on cultural and church-related topics.
The aim of this article is to shed light on the history of The Faculty of Theology. Together with the University of Oslo the Faculty celebrates its 200-year anniversary in 2011. The university was the first cultural institution in Norway and played a decisive role in the building of the nation. The main focus is on the historical changes – from 1811 to the present day. The primary task was to educate the clergy of the Norwegian state church. Until 1908, the Faculty was the only institution that offered theological and pastoral training in Norway. A major shift took place in 1990. Now pastoral training is only one among several studies offered by the faculty
«200 years of academic Theology in Norway, Questions to the History and Contemporary tasks of the Theological Faculty in Oslo» presents highlights of the theological controversies in Norway since 1811. The article discusses identity and openness in Lutheran theology and describes tasks this institution now develops, within research on the historical Jesus, hermeneutics, ethics, gender research, religious dialogue and intercontextual theology. Although the institution has changed during its 200 years, some issues stand firm throughout: a radical orientation towards the sources of Christianity, in its fundamental tension between openness and character, presented clearly and directly in contemporary Academy, Church and Society.
Bishop Eivind BerggravŽs sharp critique of the welfare state project in the post war period is here presented and discussed in relation to a. the historical context and b. the more recent debate on the relation between Lutheranism and the Scandinavian welfare states. The article discusses Berggravs critique in relation to politics and Lutheran theology.
To outsiders, the Scandinavian welfare states often appear as birds of a social democratic feather. However, to a Danish immigrant worker in Oslo (such as the author of this essay), the public discourse on social values seems strikingly different. Whereas in Norway national identity is linked to the ideas of justice and equality, it is freedom – especially of speech – that characterizes the Danish discourse. In addition, to a scholar of biblical exegesis (again, the present author), the different national values appear to be the products of two interpretive communities. Taking its starting point in everyday life experiences, the essay traces the roots of this difference to the interaction between national history and biblical interpretation. In Europe, the national identities took shape during the 19th century. In this period, the Norwegians received their country from the Danish (1814) and later Swedish (1905) rulers. Denmark, however, lost an even bigger part of the area once within its power. Whereas the Norwegian constitution was inspired by the French understanding of the state as (the will of) the nation, Denmark stuck to the Prussian model of the enlightened Obrigkeitstaat. In Norway, the historical Jesus and his alleged establishment of Gods kingdom played an important role in the formation of the national identity. However, in Denmark exegetes joined the Pauline chorus: they only knew of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Consequently, the two neighbors sided with each their aspect of the exegetical distinction between the already-not yet. Norwegian political theology was – and remains – characterized by the already. In Denmark, the not yet gained the upper hand, and the Danes remained in this evil world in need of redemption. Whereas Liberal Theology appealed to a nation in the making, the Dialectical Theology with its Kierkegaardian roots suited a nation marked by trauma. In its final part, the essay demonstrates the interaction between biblical interpretation and national values in the recent history of the two countries.
The essay was written before 7/22 2011.
The article examines the use of the concept «The Book of Nature» in the writings of three prominent Scandinavian scientists in the 18th Century: The natural historian Carl von Linné and the theologians Erik Pontoppidan and Johan Ernst Gunnerus. The three Lutheran scientists all set out to read this Book like the Book of Scripture, in quest of the literal and the historical meanings, and not as an allegorical text with the help of the tradition.
The author explores the concept of grace and the relationship between grace and Creation in Protestant theology. Martin Luthers Larger Chatecism and K.E. Løgstrups sermons from Sandager-Holevad are examined and the connection between the concept of grace and aesthetic experience is pointed out.