European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results
Content archived on 2024-06-18



Translating God(s): Comparative Theology in Europe

This four-year Marie Curie IRG research project (06/2010 to 05/2013 and 01/2014 to 12/2014) studied recent developments and scholarship in Anglo-American comparative theology and explores its transatlantic transfer and reception in Europe. During the last two decades, in the American academy of religion and theology, comparative theology as the dialogical and theologically conscious study of religions has evolved as new and quickly developing field of research and scholarship. Scholars have produced an increasing number of studies that either the authors or others have identified explicitly as “comparative theology,” new scientific communities have been formed, and postgraduate study and research programs have been established at various universities. In Europe, with a few exceptions, this thriving scholarship and development so far has received little attention and has had little impact on its academy of theology and religion. The project has been hosted by Trinity College Dublin (06/2010 to 05/2013) and University of Münster (01/2014 to 12/2014). The research project was carried out throughout by PI Prof. Norbert Hintersteiner.

The objectives have been: 1. To initiate a research process in Europe on comparative theology with a research group comprising junior and senior scholars, carrying out in-depth research on Anglo-American comparative theology. Aiming at recruiting Ph.D. dissertation projects in that research area at the host institutions and the PI's production of an introductory study in comparative theology. 2. To initiate a “collaborative publication” of U.S. comparative theologians and European scholars, so to situate and present the recent cholarship in comparative theology and the field in its complexity from the angle of these two regions of scholarship. 3. To host a number of international experts seminars / lectures / conferences and intensive study programmes exploring key areas of comparative theology, intersecting it also with Europe's novel academic fields of intercultural theology and interreligious studies. 4. Allow for European reintegration and career development of the PI.

Works performed to Acchieve Objectives and Main Results:
1. An international research group was formed in October 2010, comprising fourteen junior and senior scholars. Three of them started PhD projects under my supervision at Trinity College Dublin. The group pursued studies in comparative theology and interreligious studies and aimed at producing a number of publications and PhD theses. The PhD theses pursued within this project have been done by Richard Kimball (Trinity College Dublin), who pursued a Christian-Islamic comparative theological project on the "People of the Book (Ahl-al-Kitab)" (completion expected in 2015); Katerina Pekridou (Trinity College Dublin and U of Münster), working on a PhD project on "Comparative Ecclesiology and Ecumenical Theology" (completion expected in 2015); Darren McCallig (University of Münster), PhD project on "Interreligious Prayer in Comparative Theological Perspective" (in progress).
2: To initiate a “collaborative publication” of U.S. comparative theologians and European scholars, so to situate and present the recent scholarship in comparative theology, two edited volumes and a special journal issue have published in the context of this project: Special Issue of International Theological Journal: Concilium 1 (2011), edited by Felix Wilfred and Linda Hogan, “From World Mission to Interreligious Witness” (ISSN: 0588-9804). Norbert Hintersteiner (ed.), Thinking the Divine in Interreligious Encounter, In Collaboration with Francois Bousquet, Amsterdam / New York: Rodopi 2012. Francis X. Clooney and John Berthrong (eds.), European Perspectives on the New Comparative Theology, 2014 (ISBN-10:3906980448).
The PI also published three peer-reviewed research essays on comparative theology: Norbert Hintersteiner, “From Cultural Translation to Interfaith Witness: The Intercultural Transformation of Missiology,” in: Concilium 1 (2011) 85-94; idem, "Missio inter gentes: Komparative Theologie als Praxis interreligiösen Lernens und Bezeugens", in: Theologische Revue 110,6 (2014), 1-18; idem, Adyani Jahani Chigunih ba Yikdigar Muvajih Mishavand? Prudjihyi Ilahiyyati Tatbiqi, (Persian) (How to Engage World Religions? The Project of Comparative Theology), translated by M. Khalilizand, in: Kitabi Mahi Din (Monthly Journal for Religious Studies), Vol. 17, Nr. 197, Isfand 1392 (March 2014), pp. 80-92.
3. To host international experts seminars / lectures / conferences / intensive study programmes, exploring key areas of comparative theology in Europe in conjunction with the disciplines of intercultural theology and interreligious studies a number of research and study events have been coordinated, including the following: A kick-off conference titled “From World Mission to Interreligious Witness” was coordinated for June 16-18, 2010. As a result, a special journal issue of the international theological journal “Concilium” was co-edited comprising the major conference contributions. A conference titled “The Study of Religion in a Changing Europe: Integrity, Translation and Transformation” was carried out jointly with the European Society for Intercultural Theology and Interreligious Studies in Istanbul, April 26-29, 2011. Two international theological colloquia have been carried out with distinct U.S. scholars at the host Institution of Münster: (1) From 1-4 April 2014 with Prof. Orlando Espin (San Diego) on "Intercultural Theology of Tradition". (2) From 3-5 December 2014 with Prof. Jonathan Tan (Cleveland) on "Missio inter gentes: The Future of Christian Mission in Asia". Studies”. As complementary study elements of structured PhD programmes and dissemination vehicles, three 2-week European Intensive Programmes and a Summer School for PhD students and junior researchers were coordinated.The first ones titled “Translating God(s): Intercultural Theology and Interreligious" have been carried in Dublin 06/2010, Istanbul 04/2011 and Constanta 09/2012; a Summer School on "Christianity in Asia" was carried out in Münster in 09/2014. In each of these programmes 60 students and 25 professors participated. These activities allowed to create a new European Network for Comparative Theology.
4. As for European reintegration and career development, the project allowed the PI to be reintegrated in European academica at Trinity College Dublin initially as Assitant Professor and then Associate Professor (years 1-3 of the project); and to acchieve a career development to Full Professor at the University of Münster (year 4 of the project).

The academic impact of the project can be seen in the already taking place of a formation of a European Network of Comparative Theology as well as the cross-fertilization with related fields and their academic societies like the European Society for Intercultural Theology and Interreligious Studies (ESITIS), where comparative theology also becomes now a regular momemt in its biannual conference meetings. Target groups are policy makers concerned with interreligious dialogue and coexistence in the public domain as well as policy makers of education in theology and religious studies seeking to enhance curriculum developments in global religious learning and research.