CTSI Annual Conference

Interreligious Episteme. Methodological and Criteriological Challenges for Comparative Theology

Comparative theology has developed mainly in the context of Western universities, and in a dialogue with Christian theologies. However, the growth of Islamic theology in Germany demonstrates that the methods, attitudes, and objectives of comparative theology can develop beyond the exclusive interest and frameworks of Christian theology. Considering this development from the point of view of a post-colonial theory, one may still raise the question, if this has resulted in a unilateral accommodation of Islamic theology to the epistemic standards of Western Christian scholarship, or even more in a prolongment of Western colonising of non-Christian religions. While in the case of Islam and Judaism, one could point to common intellectual presuppositions and mutual influences going back to the formative era of each one of these theological traditions, post-colonial criticism becomes even more acute when considering religions that stem from other, different cultural contexts. Can one even talk about “theologies” in those cases, and is it legitimate to apply in other cultural and intellectual traditions fundamental epistemic categories such as the principle of non-contradiction? 

Taking a look at the theologies as well as at non-theological religious scholarship in Europe, one cannot fail to notice that these have already developed a common epistemic paradigm of bundling and transferring knowledge in an academic context. Western theology has evolved in intimate interaction with forms of knowledge stemming from the humanities, and it becomes obvious that it has been adapting, time and again, epistemic standards to those of other disciplines from within the humanities. Our conference aims to bring about an awareness of this process and render it accessible to a critical meta-reflection that should not just test the methodological and criteriological standards of research in comparative theology within broader academic scholarship, but also seek to examine the epistemic fundamentals of non-Christian theologies.

In order to initiate this process, the first annual conference of the CTSI shall invite six exemplarily designated scholars of the University of Bonn to make transparent the epistemic standards of their own research in the humanities. The disciplines selected are exactly those that are trademarked in Western academic contexts as the disciplines of reference for theological scholarship. For this reflection on the fundamentals, there will be for each discipline a lecture of 30 minutes, put to writing at greater length in advance in order to be read as a background text in preparation for the discussion.

This lecture shall be then followed by two 15 minutes long responses. First, a theologian of the CTSI or of its environment shall react, from a theological point of view, to the lectures’ impulses and shall explain to which extent the previously delineated epistemic standards are received, or find further development, in Christian theologies too. Subsequently, a member of the International Advisory Board (or someone designated by the IAB) shall reflect, in a response of another 15 minutes, on the experiences of comparative, interreligious and intercultural research, in order to have them engaged in a dialogue with the epistemic standards of the previous lecture, and to perhaps render visible their cultural contingencies.

The event will take place at the Ceremonial Hall of the university.

Wednesday 4.5., 10:00-10:45

Ceremonial act for the official opening of the CTSI, with addresses to be given by the Mayor, the Rector, and the auxiliary bishop Rolf Steinhäuser. A short introduction to the conference.



Soziale Grundlagen verstehenden Erkennens: Clemens Albrecht

Response: Cornelia Richter (Prot. theol.); Muhammad Legenhausen (Islamic Philosophy/ Qom)




Epistemic Foundations of Philological Research: Gernot Michael Müller

Responses: Christian Blumenthal (Cath. theol.), Francis X. Clooney (Harvard/ IAB)



Normative Fundamentals of Political Science: Volker Kronenberg

Responses: Martin Breul (Cath. theol.), Ebrahim Moosa (Notre Dame/ IAB)



A ceremonial lecture by Zishan Ghaffar on the “Korantheologische Grundlagen einer islamischen Komparativen Theologie”, followed by a reception, drinks, and dinner


Thursday, 5.5., 11:00-12:45

Epistemic Foundations of the Theory of Public Law: Klaus Gärditz

Responses: Judith Hahn (cath. theol.), Joshua Ralston (Edinburgh/ IAB)



Epistemic Foundations of Applied Ethics: Christiane Woopen

Responses: Jochen Sautermeister (Cath. theol.), Catherine Cornille (Boston College/ IAB)



Epistemic Foundations of Historical Research: Christine Krüger

Responses: Gisela Muschiol (Cath. theol.), Charlotte E. Fonrobert (Stanford/ IAB)


Wird geladen