DFG project “Inner-Biblical Scriptural Interpretation in the Narrative Texts of the Pentateuch”

The literary genesis of many texts within the Hebrew Bible can be explained as inner-biblical exegesis: Later texts expand on older texts and regularly adapt them to the present situation of the respective authors. If one considers such successive formation and theological expansion of the biblical texts the younger, so-called secondary texts, also receive their own theological and theological-historical appreciation.

The discovery of the phenomenon of inner-biblical interpretation began in previous research with (very) late parts of the Hebrew Bible or even early Jewish texts, which already presuppose a sort of canonical form of the Old Testament texts. On the other hand a focus was placed on the prophetic and legal texts. The narrative texts, however, have so far hardly been analyzed especially in regard to phenomena of interpretation. In particular, the project will examine whether the intention of updating and adapting a given text to the respective present, observed in the prophetic and legal texts, can also be detected within the narrative texts, or whether the phenomena of interpretation within the narrative texts serve other theological issues. The aim of the project is therefore to uncover processes of interpretation and exegesis in the narrative texts of the Pentateuch, to analyse and classify their literary techniques and theological intentions on the basis of representative examples and to compare the results with the corresponding results from the study of the prophetic and legal texts. Additionally, the project aims at interrelating the concepts of inner-biblical exegesis, redaction (-history) and intertextuality. Furthermore one may ask – with hermeneutic, systematic theological or homiletic interests – how modern readers and interpreters are in continuity with inner-biblical exegesis.

Project manager

Junior professor Dr Walter Bührer

Research assistant

Meike Röhrig


Conference and book project “Do Relational Horizons of Understanding Constitute a Link between Exegesis and Systematic Theology?”

Conference took place in Bochum on 21.-22.04.2017

Organised jointly with Dr R.J. Meyer zu Hörste-Bührer, Mainz

The conference and the conference proceedings have two main purposes: on the one hand, they look into the question what, exactly, the notion of the relationality of God and humans entails for the individual disciplines and for theology as a whole, especially in the fields of the exegetical disciplines and in systematic theology. On the other hand, they inquire if the study of the relationship between God and humans constitutes an intersection of exegesis and systematic theology. This is because the fact that God’s wish to have a relationship with humans and the human existence in relationships, which is studied in the field of systematic theology, are inherent in texts of the Old and the New Testament. Thus, the conference and the conference proceedings reacted to the discrepancies between individual theological disciplines, which have become more and more evident in the recent years, and attempted to put an emphasis on the coherency of theology in its entirety by highlighting relational thought patterns.


Research network “Theory and Method of Scriptural Commitment in Protestant Theology”

This network of 14 early career researchers in the exegetical disciplines and systematic theology examines the question of the relevance of the “sola scriptura” principle in Protestant theology for contemporary theological reflection. Considering the identity-forming nature of the “sola scriptura principle” in the Reformation-based churches, the ongoing debate on the so-called “crisis of the scriptural principle” poses a fundamental challenge for Protestant theology. The network tackles the challenge from an interdisciplinary approach, based on a jointly developed theory of “scriptural commitment”: a term which describes a process-focused and in many respects relational theological approach to the Scriptures. It takes into consideration the relationship between the Scriptures and their interpreters, including that which is interpreted, as well as the plurality of the Scriptures and their interpretations. Scriptural commitment is understood as a reformulation of the objective which in Protestant theology has traditionally been expressed with the term “sola scriptura principle,” in dialogue with formulations of a scriptural principle. At the same time, the interdisciplinary structure accepts the challenge of the necessity of a formal, overarching understanding of all the theological disciplines – both in their distinctiveness as well as their unity (in German: theologische Enzyklopädie) – which originated in the crisis of the scriptural principle.

The network is pursuing the objective of joint formulation of an interdisciplinary theory of scriptural commitment in thesis form, scheduled for publication in 2018.


Members of the network:

Clarissa Breu (Wien, Neues Testament)

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Walter Bührer (Bochum, Altes Testament)

Dr. Johanna Conrad (Marburg, Neues Testament)

Dr. Friedrich-Emanuel Focken (Heidelberg, Altes Testament)

Dr. Nadine Hamilton (Erlangen, Systematische Theologie)

Dr. Stephen J. Hamilton (Marburg, Systematische Theologie)

Elisabeth Maikranz (Heidelberg, Systematische Theologie)

Dr. Raphaela J. Meyer zu Hörste-Bührer (Mainz, Systematische Theologie)

Elizabeth Morgan-Bukovics (Wien, Systematische Theologie)

Dr. Frederike van Oorschot (Hannover, Systematische Theologie)

Prof. Dr. Scott Paeth (Chicago/IL, Systematische Theologie)

Torben Stamer (Bamberg, Systematische Theologie)

Kinga Zeller (Aarhus/Kiel, Systematische Theologie)

Carolin Ziethe (Heidelberg, Neues Testament)