Habilitationen in Arbeit

Márta Cserhati

Jesus' Temple Act

Ever since E. P. Sanders made Jesus' demonstration in the temple the cornerstone of his historical reconstruction, this episode has figured as one of the main elements in studies of the historical Jesus. This incident, however, has turned out to be more of a puzzle than a key, fraught with difficulties concerning the textual evidence, the historicity and the interpretation of the event, and even its correct placement in the course of Jesus' ministry.

In terms of the textual witness, a major question is the relationship between the Markan account (Mark 11,15-17) and the Johannine version (John 2, 13-22). Another notorious difficulty is the significance of Mark 11,16, a verse which is missing from the other Synoptics. Also, are the Scriptural quotations in Mark 11,17 original, a distillation of a longer sermon, or a Markan interpretive comment?

The historicity of the incident has been questioned mainly in view of its key role in the development of the Markan (anti)temple theme that unfolds during the passion narrative. And even if we accept the basic historicity of the episode, we are still confronted with the question whether Mark preserves or alters the original intention(s) behind Jesus' action.

Finally, the history of the interpretation of this story rreveals a bewildering array of positions. The two major strands seem to be the understanding of this action as a cleansing or purification, and a symbolic prophecy of destruction. These two options include several different possibilities, ranging from exclusively religious to exclusively political readings, with different combinations in between.

My thesis tries to make sense of at least some of these questions, placing this incident within the wider framework of first-century Palestinian social, religious and political issues as well as looking at the place and function (or disfunction) of temples in antiquity.

Boris Paschke

Eucharistic Prayer to Jesus Christ in the Apocryphal Acts of John

While the canonical New Testament contains or refers to only a few prayers to Jesus Christ (cf. John 14:14; Acts 7:59-60; 2 Cor 12:8; Rev 22:20), the apocryphal acts of the apostles provide numerous of such prayers, including Eucharistic ones.

The Acts of John from the second century C.E. are generally regarded the oldest of the apocryphal acts. They contain two long Eucharistic prayers that are exclusively addressed to Jesus Christ (ActJ 85 and 109). Even though these prayers are of an immense value for the study of early Christian spirituality and liturgy, they have not been the subjects of an in-depth investigation so far.

This neglect is due to the two-fold thesis of Josef-Andreas Jungmann who stated that Eucharistic prayer to Jesus Christ was not practiced before the fourth century C.E. and that the apocryphal acts of the apostles, because of their ‘heterodox’ character, are not relevant for the study of ‘mainstream’ Christian liturgy.

There are an increasing number of scholars who question Jungmann’s thesis. Nevertheless, an examination of the Eucharistic prayers to Jesus Christ in ActJ 85 and 109 is still a desideratum. By investigating these prayers in their historical and narrative contexts, the present habilitation project makes a worthwhile contribution to research on early Christianity.          


1976 geboren in Siegen (D)

1995 Abitur in Siegen

1997 - 2004 Theologiestudium in Gießen und Leuven

2009 Promotion, Evangelische Theologische Faculteit (ETF), Leuven

2009 - 2014 Postdoc-Assistent, ETF Leuven

2011 - 2014 Oberassistent für Forschung, FWO Flandern

seit 2014 Gastprofessor für Neues Testament, ETF Leuven

seit 2015 Lehrer für Evangelische Religion an weiterführenden Schulen in Brüssel

J. Andrew Doole

The First Person Plural in Paul

The letters of Paul reveal a complex matrix of personal and communal speech, and are usually understood in the context of the apostle and his co-workers addressing a Christian group in another city. Paul can write in both the first person singular and the first person plural, and often switches between the two. It is however by no means always clear who is meant in references of “we”, “us” and “our”.

Previous scholarship has identified the “we”-group – in various instances and within each specific context – as referring to all Christians, “Pauline” Christians, “Jewish” Christians, humankind, the “strong”, the apostles, the co-senders of each letter, Paul with a specific colleague (e.g. Timothy or Barnabas), a rhetorical “we” of the author and reader, and an authorial “we” referring simply to Paul alone. Nonetheless, there is disagreement on the referent of many first person plurals in the Pauline corpus and there remain many instances where a tenable solution is yet to be found. 

The aim of my research in this area is to provide the first comprehensive study of all instances of the first person plural in the seven undisputed letters of Paul, with the hope that the clarity of examples in texts such as 1 Thessalonians, Philippians and Philemon will shed light on the difficult references in Galatians and the Corinthian correspondence. Finally the letter to the Romans –written in Paul’s name alone to a presumably ethnically diverse group which he had neither founded nor ever visited – can be analysed, and the tendencies of Paul’s other letters can be brought to bear on the interpretation of the “we”-passages in his magnum opus.

The results may not only help to clarify syntactic and theological issues in “we”-passages but also contribute to the continued discussion on possible interpolations and the (dis)unity of the canonical letters. 

It is by no means to be claimed that Paul’s use of the first person plural reveals only one consistent pattern, rather that he adapts its use subconsciously but nonetheless purposefully in his address to groups of Christians, from groups of Christians, and about groups of Christians. Once we see how Paul speaks of “us”, we might have a better sense of his theology and self-understanding.


Born 1984 in Belfast, Northern Ireland 

2004–2007 BA (Hons.) Theology, University of Oxford 

2007–2011 doctoral research in New Testament Studies at the University of Marburg cum laude with the dissertation “What was Mark for Matthew? An Examination of Matthew's Relationship and Attitude to his Primary Source”2013 Dr. theol.  

since 01.07.2015 Assistant Professor in New Testament at the Department of Biblical Studies and Historical Theology, University of Innsbruck