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Current Projects

The Theology and Science Dialogue


In April 2019 an international and interdisciplinary consultation will take place at Heidelberg. It deals with „The Impact of Science and the Academy on Character Formation, Ethical Education and the Communication of Values in Late Modern Pluralistic Societies“ and stands in continuity to various consultations in this area that we have conducted over the last years.

Between 2013 and 2015, numerous scholars wrapped up multi-year, international, and interdisciplinary research projects at the FIIT with book publications. For instance, an international team of theologians, philosophers, and natural scientists who examined anthropological questions published their findings in the collection, The Depth of the Human Person: A Multidisciplinary Approach (ed. by M. Welker, Eerdmans: Grand Rapids 2014).


Furthermore, a major international conference also took place in Heidelberg, which examined 25 years of dialogue between science and religion in European and American contexts. Part of the consultations and colloquia was organized by the FIIT and took place at International Forum for Science in Heidelberg (Internationales Wissen­schaftsforum Heidelberg (IWH)). The discussions coming out of this conference were also published in a collection.

Embodiment as Paradigm of a new Evolutionary Cultural Anthropology

The Marsilius-Project „Embodiment as Paradigm of a new Evolutionary Cultural Anthropology“ has led to various publications within the last years, among them „Verkörperung als Paradigma theologischer Anthropologie“ (eds. Gregor Etzelmüller u. Annette Weissenrieder, Berlin: De Gruyter 2016) and the programmatic volume „Verkörperung - eine neue interdisziplinäre Anthropologie/ Embodiment – a new interdisciplinary Anthropology“ (eds. Gregor Etzelmüller, Thomas Fuchs et al., Berlin: De Gruyter 2017).

In this project the FIIT cooperates with the IFBK (Interdisciplinary Forum for Biomedicine and Cultural Studies) and the Karl-Jaspers-Chair for Philosophical Foundations of Psychatrie within the framework of the Marsilius-Kolleg of the University of Heidelberg.

Money as God: The Monetization of the Market and the Impact on Religion, Politics, Law, and Ethics

Cover Money As God

Over the centuries, time and again, theologians, philosophers, poets and even sociologists have proposed that money should be regarded as a “god-term“ (Kenneth Burke). They have spoken of the omnipotence of money (Georg Simmel) and pondered whether we should not organize religious faith like money (Niklas Luhmann). They propagated a “pantheism of money“ (Falk Wagner) and called it the “all-determining reality".

The Result: That people put their trust in material wealth rather than a transcendent god is a phenomenon observed and bemoaned in many different cultural and historical contexts. The properanswer to the problem, however, cannot be a demonization of money, if only because monetizationalso has many positive aspects for society. Instead, what is required is an ethical, cultural and eschatological (re)orientation.


Business Ethics in South East Asia

A group of young professors from the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Ja­pan, and South Korea, all of whom had received doctorates from the Theological Faculty of Hei­delberg University, conducted expert interviews with CEOs or other leading representatives of major corporations and then analyzed the results. Supported by the Karl Schlecht Foundation, the project concluded with a gathering of scholars for two colloquia at the Internationales Wissenschaftsforum (IWH) of Heidelberg University in March 2016 and at the FIIT in November 2016.

In July 2017, a colloqium on "Divine and Human Righteousness" with colleagues from Heidelberg University and Seoul Theological University followed. It took place in the FIIT.


The Impact of the Economic Market on Character Formation, Ethical Education, and the Communication of Values in Late Modern Pluralistic Societies

In October 2018 the consultation „The Impact of Religion on Character Formation, Ethical Education, and the Communication of Values in Late Modern Pluralistic Societies“ takes place at the Internationales Wissenschaftsforum (IWH) of Heidelberg University. Various disciplines such as Economy, Sociology, Law and Theology will be represented by leading international scholars.

Issues in Practical Ethics: From Genome Sequencing to Biopatents

The ethicalization and politicization of patents reflect a major societal shift caused by the rapidly proliferating possibilities for biotechnology to intervene in basic life structures (e.g., genes). As a result, there is a desire for new guidelines for research and development in the life sciences that which would apply beyond national borders. In response to ethical and legal pressures, the relationship between promoting scientific innovation, on the one hand, and protecting and asserting economic interests, on the other, has been shifting – leading to new challenges as patents have become a medium for ethicalization and politicization. This affects how the entirety of the life sciences are being organized, so that the findings from a project on stem cell research and its medical applications can be transferred to this larger scientific, ethical, political, and economic context.


The collaborative network examining these issues is being led by Professor Dr. Klaus Tanner, who is also overseeing a subproject focused on ethics. Prof. Dr. Paul Kirchhof and Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Wolfrum are responsible for the legal part of the project. In addition to junior research associates from the University of Heidelberg and the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, experienced patent lawyers, other lawyers, scientists and representatives from the business world serve as advisors to the project.

Theology and Civil Society

Church _ Civil Society Cover Front

Religious traditions are a powerful factor also in today's society. They have been shaped in history and will continue to influence individuals and societies. As an example, the political upheaval in central and east Europe in 1989 has shown the large extent to which religious convictions contribute to a con­scious­ness of freedom, to democratic thought and an active quest for peace.

In the research project on "Theology and Civil Society," FIIT seeks to explore critically the importance of theology in the development of civil societies. Among other projects, a fruitful dialogue between German and South African theologians - both stemming from societies who have experienced drastic transitions with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1986 and the end of Apartheid in 1994 - has taken place at the FIIT. Its results were published in 2017.

Joint Project: Jurisprudence and Theology

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A Project from the Research Division I ‘Theology in Dialogue with Science and Cultural Studies’ and II ‘Theology and Jurisprudence’


This joint project of the FIIT and the Max Planck Institute began with a compact seminar on classic texts in the philosophy of law and now focuses on analogies and significant differences between legal doctrine and theological doctrine. The following professors, among others, have been involved in this exchange: Professors Armin von Bogdandy, Matthias Goldmann, Ute Mager, and Eberhard Schmidt-Assmann from Legal Studies, and Professors Gregor Etzelmüller, Philipp Stoellger, Klaus Tanner, and Michael Welker from Systematic Theology.


Together with the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at the Emory School of Law and its director, Professor John Witte, they are currently working on the topic: “Law and Religion: Interactive Normativities.” Previously, they successfully concluded an interdisciplinary project on “Concepts of Law in the Sciences, Legal Studies, and Theology.” In April 2019 the consultation „The Impact of Law on Character Formation, Ethical Education, and the Communication of Values in Late Modern Pluralistic Societies“ takes place at the Internationales Wissenschaftsforum, University of Heidelberg (IWH).

Concepts of Peace in Asia and the West


Joint Project with Scholars from South Korea


Between 1984 und 2015, 49 South Korean doctoral students successfully completed doctorate degrees (Dr. theol.) at the Theology Faculty of Heidelberg Uni­versity. In addition to researching and writing their dissertations, they took on the task of learning German and English and demonstrating competency in Biblical Hebrew, Ancient Greek and Latin to complete their degree requirements.


The FIIT is now embarking on a new phase of bilateral cooperation with these researchers. As several scholars from South Korea have returned to Heidelberg in recent years for research visits, numerous consultations have come into being. For example, the newly-founded “Center for the Study of Science and Religion” at Hanshin University in Seoul, whose director Prof. Chun Chul also received his Dr. theol. from Heidelberg, is actively working together with the FIIT. The Seoul Theological University has also entered into a partnership with the Theology Faculty at Heidelberg University which will involve a series of annual consultations. Further, in Novem­ber 2015, Heidelber­g professors Peter Lampe, Manfred Oeming, Philipp Stoellger and Michael Welker co-organized a consul­tation on “Concepts of Peace in Asia and the West” in Seoul, and in March 2016 Heidelberg professors Johannes Eurich, Philipp Stoellger, and Michael Welker were involved in a consultation on the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Joint Projects with Chinese Universities

Since its founding, the FIIT has been interested in expanding contacts and deepening relationships with Chinese scholars in religious studies, the philosophy of religion, and theology. Numerous Chinese theologians who received doctorates from the Theology Faculty at Heidelberg University today teach in places such as Hong Kong, the People’s Republic of China, and Taiwan. They regularly invite their colleagues from Heidelberg to come to Asia for lecture tours.


Not only have Christian groups and churches been growing rapidly in the “Middle Kingdom” recently, but an intensive academic interest in religion, religious studies, and theology has also emerged. The FIIT has hosted several colloquia with colleagues from the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Chinese colleagues have been closely involved in international and interdisciplinary research projects, and several individuals have been scholars-in-residence at the FIIT.


The findings of the conference on “Love and Law: The Science and Theology Discourse in China and the West” included German, Chinese and Anglo-American scholars (from the fields of theology, religious studies, philosophy, biology, psychology and neurology) and will soon by published in book form.

Multiple Reformations?: The Heidelberg-Notre Dame Dialogue on the Legacies of the Reformation Age

On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, this interdisciplinary project is bringing together a group of theologians and historians from the universities of Heidelberg and Notre Dame, the leading Catholic university in North America. We will be meeting four times from 2016 to 2018 (in Rome, Heidelberg, Chicago und Jerusalem) to discuss the following questions. a) How do we interpret and assess the Reformation as a historical and theological event, as a historiographic category, and as a cultural myth from the perspective of different disciplines and confessional traditions? b) What are the long-term global legacies of the Reformation as manifest in the development of distinct Christian world religions and competing confessional cultures, producing different types of modernities? To compare different confessional modernities we will look at how Catholic and Protestant theologies and lived religions interacted with the development of modern empires and nation-states, with the emergence of the natural, historical and biblical sciences, as well as with divergent legal cultures and traditions in education and social welfare. c) Finally, the colloquia will also address the challenging question regarding how the Reformation should be commemorated (or can be celebrated) from an ecumenical perspective today.

Europa Reformata

Europa Reformata

A book detailing the Reformation history of 48 European cities and the lives of the Reformers active in those cities was published in 2017 - together with English and Korean translations. The volume aims at drawing attention to the international dimension of the Reformation, reaching from cities in Spain over Central Europe to Estonia, from Scotland and England to Romania.

The Anthropology of Media and Visual Culture

Given the extensive research and publications in visual studies from the perspective of theology and the philosophy of religion, we propose a new approach to studying religion, media, and anthropology: 1) to analyze religious cultures as visual cultures - not exclusively so, but always including the visual as well. 2) Within the wider framework of visual culture, the media practices of religion need to be considered, which amounts to media theory from a theological perspective. 3) The anthropology of media is incorporated as a focus and research field within this broader view, in conjunction with and cross-linked with projects on “embodiment” from the perspectives of phenomenology, visual studies, and theology.

Edition of Cotton Mather's Biblia Americana

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), Prof. Dr. Stievermann and a team of young researchers from American Studies and Theology have completed the fifth volume of Cotton Mather’s Biblia Americana, which was published by Mohr Siebeck in 2015. Written by the famous Puritan theologian Cotton Mather (1663-1728), the Biblia was the first comprehensive Bible commentary composed in British North America. The manuscript, written between 1693 and 1728, had never been published before or even transcribed in its entirety.

Monasteries in the High Middle Ages


The project “Monasteries in the High Middle Ages as innovators of conceptions of life and organization in Europe” seeks to analyse the monastic world of the Middle Ages as a pathfinder to modernity. In the social and religious change of the 11th to 13th centuries mediaeval monasteries developed an unprecedented degree of rationality in their way of life. At that time models of cultural departure developed, out of which specific systems of configurations evolved that were even relevant in modern times.

Two closely-interlinked research groups have been set up to further elucidate these research objectives; they are located in the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Saxonian Academy of Sciences respectively. The sub-projects’ fields of work complement each other: While the Dresden group concentrates on inner-monastic regulations and life, the research in Heidelberg focuses on meaningful texts about the interpretation of the world and designs of exemplary regulations.

Scholarly Knowledge, Drollery or Esotericism? The Masora of the Hebrew Bible in its Various Material Properties

This project, which is part of the DFG Research Centre on Material Text­ Cultures, seeks to clarify whether the relationship between the Masora in the Biblical manuscripts and the Masora traditions presented either in the form of lists or in isolation mirrors a relationship of ‘permanency’ in the textual tradition (liturgical tradition: synagogue) conserved in the Biblical artefact, and of ‘(varying) reception’ in an expanded field of application (commentary; grammar: Lehrhaus). It is led by Prof. Dr. Hanna Liss.

Archeology of Settlement in Phrygia

Banaz Canyon

The Montanist Cities of Pepouza and Tymion - Prof. Dr. Peter Lampe

In a settlement archeological survey in Phrygia (Turkey) led by Prof. Peter Lampe (University of Heidelberg), the locations of the long-lost centers of Christian Montanism, Pepouza and Tymion, have been rediscovered. With a refined array of scientific methods the project explores an entire cultural landscape, covering a period of several thousand years.

Excavations near Jerusalem / Aseka and Socho

In 2012 Prof. Dr. Oded Lipschits (Tel Aviv) and Prof. Dr. Manfred Oeming (Heidelberg) have started archeological excavations in both Aseka and Socho. They are working together with the Weizmann Institut in Rechovot as well as the EU-Project „Reconstructing Ancient (Biblical) Israel the Exact and Life Sciences Perspective” (led by Israel Finkelstein), exploring new ways of collaboration between the humanities and the natural sciences.

Anthropology and Ethics in early Christianity

As one of the most important text written by the apostle Paul, the Letter to the Romans must be read against the background of Paul’s complex anthropology and ethics and needs to be interpreted from multiple perspectives. This is especially relevant given current exegetical debates. The traditional Lutheran interpretation understood Romans in light of the justification of the individual person, while the “new” perspective on Paul that has dominated scholarship since the 1970s points instead to the social expansion of the congregation to include all people. Yet another approach is being pursued by professors Gerd Theissen (Heidelberg) and Petra von Gemünden (Augsburg), which incorporates the analysis of semantics and images, discourse analysis, psychology and social perspectives to shed new light on Romans.

The Technological Compatibility of Networks in the Ambulant Care of Patients Suffering from Dementia

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Interdisciplinary Project of Computer Science, Engineering and Diaconal Studies (Research Division XIII)

In cooperation with the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT), this joint project analyzes and identifies the factors critical for success in developing networks and in successfully using innovative technology in the ambulant care of patients, especially those suffering from dementia. This project is supported by the HEiKA Initiative of Heidelberg University and the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT).

The Varying Potential of People at Different Life Phases


Professors Johannes Eurich, Andreas Kruse, Friederike Nüssel (Forschungsabteilungen XI und XIII), Hans-Werner Wahl and colleagues from the Institute of Psychology, Heidelberg University

Out of the “Love and Empathy” project that involved several members of the FIIT as well as colleagues from the UK, Finland, and Switzerland, a new interdisciplinary research group has emerged which focuses on aging. The project examines both the possibilities for aging people to shape their lives and the impact of religious traditions on the aging process. Entitled “The varying potential of people at different life phases: An interdisciplinary exploration of the social opportunities of different age groups,” the project succeeded in gaining funding from the FRONTIER innovation endowment fund, which is part of the Excellence Initiative II of Heidelberg University.

A new research group has developed out of the “Love and Empathy” project – in which several members of the FIIT were involved as well as colleagues from the UK, Finland, and Switzerland – and which focuses on what opportunities aging people have to shape how they live their lives and also considers the impact of religious traditions on the aging process. As an interdisciplinary exploration of the social opportunities of different age groups, the project succeeded in gaining funding from the FRONTIER innovation endowment fund, which is part of the Excellence Initiative II of Heidelberg University.

Letzte Änderung: 2018-10-03
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