Senior Fellow: October 2017–March 2018
Research Project: Theology of the Old Testament
It is a matter of debate between Christian and Jewish theologians whether a “theology of the Old Testament” should be written, since this is necessarily not only a historical but also a subjective hermeneutical venture. However, while being aware of the possibility of different approaches, it is a promising challenge to attempt a fresh comprehensive survey of the concepts of God, Israel, and humankind in the Hebrew Bible in the light of modern exegesis, the history of religions, and cultural studies. The monograph to be finished at the Maimonides Centre will present the ancient Jewish writings collected in the Masoretic canon in a systematic manner and as the outcome of the emergence of monotheism, with a special focus on the concept of creation. The project assesses specific problems of thought in the arena of creation theology which have remained unsolved. This is where scepticism comes into view as a specific way of questioning traditional truths, e.g. in texts of critical wisdom such as Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Psalter, and as a formative principle for discourses that increasingly realise how the very fabric of the problems of evil, justice, and truth prevents definitive answers. In this respect, the hermeneutical value of the image ban, as well as that of the poetics of transcendence in biblical traditions, will be further explored and emphasised.
Since 2010, Friedhelm Hartenstein has been chair of the Institute of Old Testament Studies II at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.