Projekt “Eschatological Images”

The interdisciplinary research project on concepts of salvation in biblical and modern times combines a philosophical and systematic theological approach to our modern society as well as an analysis of biblical salvific notions and ideas.

Das interdisziplinäre Forschungsprojekt beschäftigt sich mit Heils- und Jenseitsvorstellungen unserer Zeit und kombiniert dazu eine philosophisch-theologische Analyse der heutigen Situation mit einer Reflexion der zugrundeliegenden biblischen Konzepte.

(Spät-)Mittelalterliche Jenseitsvorstellung: Das Jüngste Gericht, Hans Memling (um 1470)

There is a problematic paradox in modern day society caused by a conflict between religious world-views  and scientific approaches. Traditional beliefs in salvific eschatological concepts of life after death or some form of final divine judgement by a higher power are in decline in nearly all Western countries, while the use of biblical apocalyptic motifs is in popular demand as evidenced by recent movies or news reports of catastrophes. The project initially seeks to understand this dichotomy against the background of a shifting emphasis from traditional religious worldviews that are dominated by a heavenly salvific orientation to the contemporary view that exhibits an inner-worldly salvific focus based on empirical thinking due to the rise of modern natural sciences.

It aims at aligning different concepts of salvation that are inherent in today’s (post-)modern world-view, which, although still employing biblical motifs, are perceived to be in conflict with traditional religious beliefs of salvation. It employs an interdisciplinary approach that is divided into four stages in order to investigate the original Jewish-Christian matrix of salvation, its perceived change through the emergence of modern sciences, and the crisis of modernity right up to its post-modern setting.

A. At first the hermeneutical framework has to be clarified by defining central terms related to salvation. This implies an ongoing interdisciplinary process throughout the whole project: Different definitions of the central terms change the basis of the data and influence the results

B. The second stage identifies biblical concepts of salvation in the Old and New Testament and investigates their salvific orientation and use of imagery, including apocalyptic motifs. The emphasis will be put on the idea of the kingdom of God, which presents the major salvific notion in the New Testament.

C. In the third stage, it is investigated what impact recent developments have had on contemporary understandings of salvation, especially the crisis of modernity and the growth of post-modern society. The initial hypothesis suggests that the rise of modern natural sciences has played an integral part in the inner-worldly orientation.

D. While the second and third stages investigate the concepts of salvation in their specific settings and provide conclusions about their meaning and the function of their topoi, the fourth stage intends to bring the results together in a comparative approach. It is suggested that there are remarkable differences and congruencies between the biblical and (post-)modern concepts of salvation and their way of employing certain topoi. This comparison not only leads to a better understanding of these salvific concepts, but allows for an assessment of their value.









Projektvorstellung Eschatologische Vorstellungen in heutiger Zeit (deutsch)

Project management: Patrick Becker and Steffen Jöris
Research assistant: Georg Hanneken

Funded by the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments.

Heutige Jenseitsvorstellung? Vietnam als Hölle, Filmszene aus "Apocalypse now" von 1979

Heutige Jenseitsvorstellung? Vietnam als Hölle, Filmszene aus "Apocalypse now" von 1979


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