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Scriptural Principle and Reformation Theology in contemporary perspectives

Workshop on Scriptural Principle and Reformation Theology in contemporary perspectives April 5–6 2016

14.01.2016 | Sita Malene Jensen

Dato tir 05 apr ons 06 apr
Tid 10:00    15:00
Sted Konference Centret, Frederik Nielsens Vej 4, 8000 Aarhus C(April 5) & Building 1451, Room 415,Jens Chr. Skous Vej 3, 8000 Aarhus C(April 6)

The crisis of the Scriptural Principle is a still unsolved problem of Protestant Theology. While there are different attempts to find viable solutions, the connection to Reformation Theology is very often neglected. However, there would be no Scriptural Principle without Martin Luther and his high esteem towards the Bible expressed in the famous formula sola scriptura.

We think it is advisable to examine this connection anew taking into account newest research. Therefore Ph.D. fellows and senior scholars of relevant fields investigate, whether a historical reconnection can have a surplus or not. Relevant questions in this context could be, e.g., which important insights could be gained from Reformation Theology for the current debates, if the Lutheran sola scriptura could be brought into discussion with recent hermeneutical insights, at which points should we possibly take leave from Luther’s theology, which new challenges arose from the field of Biblical Studies for the Scriptural Principle, and which importance had the dogma of Scripture within theology.



The workshop consists of four lectures given by well-known scholars within the relevant fields on the first day, and discussions of papers handed in by participants on the second. The lectures are also directed towards open public, whereas the paper presentations and discussions are designed as a closed seminar.

In order to guarantee thorough and efficient discussions the participants shall present their research in short talks based on more elaborated papers of max. 5000 words that are to be send in till the 15th of March so they can be passed around and be prepared by the other participants.

Workshop participation is credited with 2,5–3,5 ECTS-points. It is no obligation to submit a paper. Those who do will be credited with 1 ECTS-point more. There is a maximum of eight possible papers.




The first day of the workshop takes place in the Aarhus Conference Center, Frederik Nielsens Vej 4, 8000 Aarhus C and the second day in the Department of Theology, Jens Chr. Schous Vej 3, building 1451, room 415.


5th of April(Konference Centret, Frederik Nielsens Vej 4, 8000 Aarhus C)

10:00–10:15                        Coffee and welcome

10:15–10:45                        Official welcome and opening lecture                                      

Associate Prof. Bo Kristian Holm, PhD:

The Lutheran understanding of Scripture between ambiguity and unambiguity

Luther’s view on Scripture emphasized the unambiguity of the Gospel as the hermeneutical key for understanding scripture. This lecture asks if a concept of unambiguity is still possible to maintain vis-à-vis the obvious varieties and ambiguities of Biblical exegesis. Luther’s “scriptural principle” was depending on the confession of the Church; a framework modern exegesis to a large extent has left. Following the line coming from Luther’s scriptural hermeneutics it may be possible to understand the “scriptural principle” not as a principle but rather as a mode of communication. Interpretation of Scripture and use of Scripture has then to be distinguished, and interpretation of Scripture cannot be exhausted by a pure historical reading, but has to take into account the unanswered questions within the text forming the Wirkungsgeschichte of Scripture. The theological question is then if it remains possible to regulate the use from this perspective.


Prof. Dr. Eve-Marie Becker

The role of the commentator: How exegesis and hermeneutics can meet in a distinct scientific genre

A commentary still is the "locus classicus" of exegetical work: it represents the state of the art of New Testament studies and - by bundling up the current understanding of scriptural texts - provides a material basis for further hermeneutical tasks. However, even though seen as a genre that is distinct from a monograph and its authorial profile, commentaries are by no means results of "objective" research: they are already built upon individual interaction with texts and their history of interpretation; they are enriched by the commentator's personal interests, views and insights. This does not need to be a weakness of exegetical work – it is rather, as I intend to show in my contribution, a chance of interconnecting exegetical needs and hermeneutical quests. The role of the commentator thus can be mediating and authenticating. It is an important task of hermeneutics then to explore the margins of the individual's approach to and design of textual interpretation. Focusing on the role of the commentator opens for understanding the relation between exegesis and theological hermeneutics.


12:00–13:00                        Lunch break



Prof. Dr. Ulrich H.J. Körtner

Reader-response-criticism in the light of the Scriptural Principle

The concept of the Scriptural Principle originated in the time after the reformation. However, since the very beginning there has been talk of its crisis, and Luther’s claim of the clarity of scripture as “principium” of all theology has been challenged in different ways. In the lecture it shall be shown how with reader-response criticism the classical doctrine of inspiration and the Lutheran notion of the inner clarity of Scripture could be reconstructed.

It shall be discussed if and how Scripture’s perfection, sufficiency and sole efficacy can be affirmed. Special attention shall be put on the question, if the sola gratia and sola fide become dubious: If the reader is ascribed an active roll in the accomplishment of the text’s meaning, is the act of reading then understood as a work? The claim is hold that this synergism problem of a reader-oriented reconstruction of the reformational scriptural principle can be handled in connection with the history-of-effects models of the Christology of Martin Kähler and Paul Tillich. In this context the category of the intentio operis, which wasintroduced by Umberto Eco into the debate about the boundaries of interpretation,plays a key part.      


14:15–14:30                        Coffee break



Prof. Dr. Notger Slenczka

Questioning the Canonic Value of the Old Testament

Already in the second century has the normativity and canonical validity of the Old Testament been called into question by Marcion. Famous theologians like Schleiermacher and Harnack have taken up his objection and developed his line of argumentation. In recent times it is Notger Slenczka himself who reconsiders their arguments in the light of contemporary church and theological practices concluding that the factual normativity of Old Testament texts is long since and for good reasons neglected.

He claims that the ongoing debate on the canonic value of the Old Testament calls for a hermeneutics of the Old Testament that takes into account the historical meaning of the texts as well as the meaning that emerges when the text is read by a contemporary reader; a non exclusivistic correlation of the approaches of both Christianity and Judaism; and the claim of the unity of God in both parts of the Bible. In the lecture, recent interpretations will be discussed and a proposal to deal with the problem of conflicting intentions will be presented.

15:45-16:00                         Break


Prof. Dr. Raik Heckl: From the emergence of the Hebrew Bible as authoritative literature of Judaism to a hermeneutics of the Old Testament

The books of the Hebrew Bible did not emerge as authoritative texts. The literary history of the texts shows that they originally were composed as intentional literature. The aim was to establish programmatic religious concepts, ethical rules and concepts of identity. Only during the literary history gradually an authoritative status of these texts was accepted. That happened in parallel to the formation of the religious community. Based on the processes and on the conceptual changes during the emergence of the Hebrew Bible the paper defines the position and the function of the Old Testament in Christianity.

Each lecture has a duration of 30–45 Minutes and is followed by a discussion.



19:00                        Common dinner with conference participants



6th of April(Building 1451, Room 415, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 3, 8000 Aarhus C)


Discussions of Papers with Notger Slenczka and Bo Holm

Each paper shall be presented in ten minutes, followed by a discussion with duration of 20 minutes. There will be coffee and respectively a lunch break after every second paper. A more detailed program will be passed around after the papers have been submitted.


Registration and fees

For those only interested in participating in the open lectures there is a fee of kr. 60/day covering expenses for coffee and snacks and shall be paid via webshop: auws.au.dk/scripturalprincipleandreformation till March 21..


Interested Ph.D.-students and Postdocs shall send a short abstract of their relevant topic (200–250 words) to Kinga Zeller (kize@cas.au.dk) until 15. February 2016, if they want to present a paper.

The whole workshop is charged with 350kr / 47€. The fee includes a common lunch, beverages, and coffee during the whole workshop and participation in the common dinner on April 5.. The amount shall be paid via webshop auws.au.dk/scripturalprincipleandreformation till March 1..

Afdeling, Teologi, Kristendom og teologi i kultur og samfund