Den himmelske kungen och hans folk

Article by Tobias Ålöw in Svensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift.

‘Den himmelske kungen och hans folk: Betydelse och användningar av βασιλεία i Matteusevangeliet’

This article examines the meaning and uses of the Greek term βασιλεία in the Gospel of Matthew. Contrary to the scholarly opinio communis, according to which the term should be construed dynamically as the “rule” of God, it argues with reference to Charles Ruhl’s theory of semantic monosemy/pragmatic modulation that the pertinent term has a single abstract meaning – “that which pertains to royalty” – which is modulated pragmatically throughout the course of the narrative, to the effect that five distinct senses are engendered. Through an analysis of five examples in the text, it is submitted that Matthew employs the pertinent term both personally as to mean “king”, abstractly to mean “majesty”, dynamically to mean “rule”, collectively to mean “people”, and spatially as to mean “kingdom”. At the same time, this article also argues that these distinct uses are best understood not in separation from each other, but as integrated parts of a coherent concept. Finally, the two dominant uses – the collective and the personal – are related to the overarching dual focus of Matthew’s narrative, namely the new king and his people, to which they attest and contribute. While the wider scope of the pragmatic field opens up to a more nuanced understanding of Matthew’s Basileiakonzeption in itself, it indirectly also has more far-reaching implications for how we understand βασιλεία in early Jewish and Christian literature at large.

Teologins kritiska pedagogik

Article by Peter Karlsson in Svensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift.

‘Teologins kritiska pedagogik: Illich, Herdt, Hitz och den eskatologiska referensen’

In this essay, I examine three thinkers who have turned to theology as a resource for thinking critically about learning: Ivan Illich, Jennifer A. Herdt, and Zena Hitz. Situating my project in the context of what I with refer­ence to David Lewin call a post-secular educational philosophy, the aim is to investigate which mechanisms that are included in the articulation of a de-instrumentalized conception of learning that draws from theological sources. Starting with Ivan Illich’s concept of the “epimethean man” – the person not-in-control – I investigate which understanding of learning that is implicated in the production of this life form. By drawing on the theological and philosophical projects of Herdt and Hitz – who articulate an anthropological and political vision similar to Illich’s – I come up with three different concepts that are implicated in the pedagogical process and connected to a de-instrumentalized view on learning. The first concept is eschatology, which in this context means a reduction of the possibility of educational perfection in the learning process. The second concept is ascetism, delineating a learning practice that is both condi­tioned by and produces traditional ascetical themes, such as seclusion and attention. The third is dialogicity, which is the ethical and political outcome of the eschatological and ascetical aspects of learning.

Från antika kättarmunkar till religionsdebatter på Facebook

Article by Paul Linjamaa in Svensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift.

This article argues that there are observable similarities between the way ancient heresiologists depicted their theological opponents and how religious people and religion as a phenomenon are described by con­­­tempo­rary anti-religion orators. The short study takes its departure from previ­ous studies on the Nag Hammadi texts and ancient heresiological discourse and ends with reflections on the parallels to how religion is debated in social media today. It is argued, by way of Zygmunt Bauman and
Umberto Eco, that if we wish to understand the underlying mechanisms behind both ancient heresiological and contemporary anti-religious rhetorics, we can gain much by applying theories on the formation of individ­ual and group identity.

Hope gone awry—An odd bed fellowship of Islamic and Christian neo-apocalypticism

Article by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen in Dialog.

While the rise of neo-apocalypticism, as it is called in Christian parlance, is a well-known phenomenon to theologians and other scholars observing the current global religious landscape, the significance of neoapocalypticism in Islam is a less well-known fact. Yet–and this makes the topic so significant theologically–between these two forms of intense eschatological expectations, astonishing cross-breeding is taking place. This is counterintuitive in light of the fact that in many ways Islamic and Christian neo-apocalyptic visions seem to be totally hostile towards each other. This article introduces both Islamic and Christian neo-apocalypticisms and reflects on the implications of their co-existence and mutual exchanges for the future of interfaith relations and global peace.

Human hope and the reign of God

Article by Werner G. Jeanrond in Dialog.

This article discusses the theological virtue of hope in relation to the Christian expectation of God’s coming reign. Hope, as distinct from optimism and from all sorts of individualistic hopes, refers to God’s gift of future. Hence, the tension between expecting God’s coming reign, on the one hand, and the challenge of living constructively in the here and now, on the other hand, engages theological approaches to hope. It is argued that the divine gift of love, rather than faith, provides the main source of orientation for the Jewish and the Christian praxis of hope in this world. Faith is often understood in terms of assent to certain doctrinal definitions, while the other dimension of faith, God’s offer of relationship, has moved to the background. Accepting love as guide to the Christian praxis of hope strengthens the relational nature of hope. No one can hope for herself or himself alone. The Gospels and the Pauline letters confirm the centrality of love for Christian discipleship. The article concludes with, first, a discussion of the contemporary challenge of migration; and, second, with a consideration of the connection between hope for personal fulfilment and hope for the future of the universe. Both examples point to a theology that is inspired by love and equipped to approach Christian discipleship in a spirit of hope.

What may we hope?

Article by Antje Jackelén in Dialog.

Christians are a people of hope. There is no other alternative after Jesus Christ overcame the power of death through his resurrection. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer,” Paul encourages the congregation in Rome (Romans 12:12). The author of 1 Peter is conscious that hope is no mere feeling. Like faith and love, hope is a gift. But hope is also a choice that is based on realities, a virtue if you like. For this reason, “always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear.” (1 Peter 3:15–16). Keeping silent about hope is to deceive. Speaking of hope when humankind is shuttered in crisis requires both clear mind and pastoral empathy. Otherwise speaking of hope may sound as an escape from reality, a superficial consolation, or even cynicism. We need to ask: how is hope a power that prevails in worldly adversities?

Olav den hellige etter reformasjonen

Article by Tarald Rasmussen in Teologisk tidsskrift.

‘Olav den hellige etter reformasjonen. Om den norske reformasjonen og omkodingen av Olav til en protestantisk helgen’

In Norway, the reformation came along with Danish political takeover and a loss of political sovereignty. It is a remarkable characteristic of Norwegian reformation history that the country had no reformation hero of its own. In this situation, Norwegian sixteenth century humanists turned to the Old Norse tradition. Here, they found a Norwegian hero who could be reinterpreted in a Protestant context: St. Olaf – Norway’s martyr king. His memory was kept alive during the Protestant centuries. In the era of national consolidation in the nineteenth century, new energy and new perspectives were brought into the Protestant reinterpretation of Olaf.

Taking Responsibility for Truth: Ecclesial Practices in an Age of Hypocrisy

Article by Jan-Olav Henriksen in Truth-telling and other ecclesial practices of resistance, Christine Helmer (ed).

From the book description:

In this book, leading American Lutheran theologians, inspired by the Scandinavian emphasis on theology as embodied practice, ask how Christian communities might be mobilized for resistance against systemic injustices. They argue that the challenges we confront today as citizens of the United States, as a species in relation to all the other species on the planet, and as members of the body of Christ require an imaginative reconceptualization of the inherited tradition. The driving force of each chapter is the commitment to truth-telling in naming the church’s complicity with social and political evils, and to reorienting the church to the truth of grace that Christianity was created to communicate. Contributors ask how ecclesial resources may be generatively repurposed for the church in the world today, for church-building grounded in Christ and for empowering the church’s witness for justice. The authors take up the theme of resistance in both theoretical and pragmatic terms, on the one hand, rethinking doctrine, on the other, reconceiving lived religion and pastoral care, in light of the necessary urgencies of the time, and bearing witness to the God whose truth includes both justice and hope.

Kærlighedens ansvar

New book by Ulrik Nissen: Kærlighedens ansvar. Grundlag og områder for kristen etik. København: Eksistensen Akademisk, 2022 (published February 10th)

The Danish book outlines an understanding of Christian ethics as loving responsibility in the light of the Bible, tradition, reason and experience as its sources. In doing so, it unfolds a Christian ethics between radicalism and compromise with a call to a life formed by Christian love and a responsibility for the common good. The last half of the book reflects on what this implies with relation to current ethical issues in medical ethics, economics, migration and nature.

It is central to the book that the Christian faith and the Christian life cannot be separated from each other. Faith expresses itself in good deeds. It is this essential connection that Christian ethics reflects on and raises the question, what we can say about the life that springs from the Christian faith? One of the basic arguments of the book is that the Christian is called to bear witness to Jesus Christ and that it is the task of Christian ethics to examine how this witness can be expressed in the Christian life today.

Ind i fællesskapet: En samtidsteologi om gudsriget og det evige liv

New book by Niels Henrik Gregersen on Existensen (2021).

Man kan ikke tale om livet efter døden uden at tale om livet før døden. Hvis det evige liv overhovedet findes, må det allerede være til stede midt i tidens flow og stedets bevægelser. Allerede nu kender vi til tidsoverskridende erfaringer. Hører vi en stump af en melodi, klinger også de forudgående toner med, ligesom vi forventer, at nye toner dukker frem. Vi lever rytmisk, på én gang i nuet, i fortiden og i fremtiden. På samme måde lever vi i resonans, i spændingsfeltet mellem os selv og andre.

Jesus af Nazareth strøede om sig med eksempler på gudsriget fra dagliglivet. Det kan vi også gøre i dag. Guds riget er resonansernes rige: en intensivering af de erfaringer af imødekommelse og accept, der forbinder mennesker med hinanden og med naturen. Kødets opstandelse betyder livshistoriens opstandelse ind i Guds evighed, der giver plads til både individualitet og fæl-lesskab.

Gennem inspiration fra resonansteorien og K.E. Løgstrups skabelsesteologi giver Niels Henrik Gregersen et sammenhængende bud på, hvordan man kan tænke om gudsriget og det evige liv i dag.