30 June - 11 July 2014
The course deals with the complex interrelationships between texts, traditions, and interpretations in the field of biblical studies. The topics addressed in the course range from issues related to textual criticism (what texts exist, how were they used, and how were they published?), to topics related to their transmission and translation, as well as the establishment of interpretative traditions, to questions related to philosophical and theological hermeneutics (what is the role of reading communities, how ‘objective’ isthe interpretation of a text, etc.). By discussing these various aspects of biblical interpretation in the context of one course, an interdisciplinary view of biblical interpretation can be achieved that is otherwise hardly possible.
The professors in Biblical Studies of VU University Amsterdam combine their expertise to create this unique course. The setting of Amsterdam and VU gives an extra impetus to the questions at stake in the course: while VU University has strong ties with Christian theology, the postmodern and postsecular setting of Amsterdam, and the broad academic setting in which the Faculty of Theology of VU University is located provides a context that invites exploring new questions and going beyond disciplinary and theological boundaries. Tradition and innovation meet in new and exciting ways.
Syriac Christianity in Context
14 - 25 July 2014
Syriac Christianity is one of the best hidden secrets of the Christian tradition and is more often than not ignored in curricula and handbooks. Recently, however, given the political developments in Syria, knowledge of this particular branch of Christian tradition has become much needed again. In this unique course, experts from VUUniversity and guest lecturers offer a thorough introduction into its most important aspects. This will notably include the development of Syriac versions of the Scriptures and their transmission, the emergence of Syriac theology and the interrelationship between theology and biblical interpretation and translation. Also, the complex relationship of Syriac theology to emerging Islam, and to Western and Eastern theology will be paid attention to, as well as to Syriac Christianity’s current, difficult, existence in Syria itself. The latter part of the course will be developed in relation to the course that history will take in Syria in the coming months. Exchange with the Syriac immigrant/refugee community in the Netherlands will also give an impression of the ongoing life of Syriac Christianity and its interpretation of Scripture and tradition. In sum, the course offers a unique opportunity for studying the complex interrelationship between tradition, identity formation, and interpretation in the case of Syriac Christianity from the past till the present.