For more than 20 years, the Theology Faculties from the Universities of Bonn and Oxford have run joint seminars for faculty members and students, alternately in each university. As JOHN BARTON explains, this programme is set for expansion now that it is linked to the Europaeum.
"Theology is a very different discipline in Britain and Germany. Oxford has traditionally been strong in biblical studies and historical theology, with specialists and research students in patristics (the theology of the first few Christian centuries) and medieval and Reformation studies. It also has a strong interest in the philosophy of religion, from the standpoint of Anglo-Saxon analytical philosophy, and more recently has developed a concern for the direction of the study of `religion' as a cultural and psychological phenomenon. Bonn's strengths have lain in the realm of `systematic theology' - the attempt to synthesize the whole of religious thought through a (continental) philosophical system, a concern little found in English theology, though commoner in Scotland.
The movement of academic staff between partner universities is central to the mission of the Europaeum. It promotes the exchange of ideas and provides opportunities for collaborative projects. The Europaeum Visiting Professorship programme, founded in 2001, also provides insights into our different academic cultures, as MICHAEL WOLTER and JOHN BARTON found out during their EVP exchange between Bonn and Oxford. They Share their experiences below.
The first thing any German professor of biblical studies who spends two weeks as a visiting professor at a British university such as Oxford is likely to learn, is that academic discourse also has a geographical dimension.