Department 2 (Benjamin Schliesser)

How did the early Christian movement manage to survive Later Antiquity? What set it apart? What made it attractive to a range of different persons from (almost) all social strata? How was it embedded in the cultural, religious, and social life of the metropolises of the Roman Empire? The project ECCLESIAE pursues answers to these timeless and fascinating questions using new methods and aims to develop a vivid image of the first Christian groups present in the leading centers of early Christianity: Antioch, Ephesus, Philippi, Corinth, and Rome.

In early Christianity and the New Testament, "faith" assumed a central role, presumably because faith "was discovered in an as-yet unknown manner" (Hans Weder). In New Testament studies, the topos of faith is experiencing a minor renaissance. Yet with faith, early Christianity also discovered doubt. It was not sought, but it was surely found. Doubt and its companions attach themselves "parasitically" to faith. Doubt belongs to faith, but cannot exist without it. As surely as there was no unified concept of "faith" in early Christianity, there was also no unified concept of "doubt". We ought rather to reckon with a multiplicity of forms of expression of doubt through which the concrete intellectual, emotional, and ethical dissonances in the world of meaning of individual believers and/or groups of believers come to expression.

The book is available Open Access here.


The Theological Reference Commentary to the New Testament series (Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt) was grounded in 1928 and revised editions have been produced since the 1950s. This commentary series aims above all to elucidate the statements intended by the text and the text's context and thereby to provide a firm foundation for exegetically and theologically informed teaching and preaching. The series' clear and compact layout renders it commendable not only for research and university and school instruction, but also and especially for students of theology and for those involved in congregational ministry (publisher's text, trans. Institute for NT – Bern).  

The series "New Testament Outlines" (Grundrisse zum Neuen Testament [GNT], Göttingen; Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) is published as a supplement to the series Das Neue Testament Deutsch (NTD) and is an internationally recognized commentary series. Each volume offers translations, explanations, overarching thematic excurses, and suggestions for further reading. Scholarly quality, lucid expositions, and a sensible pricetag have established this series as a go-to resource for pastors, teachers, students, and ecclesial personnel (publisher's text, trans. Institute for NT – Bern).


The planned series "Early Christian Centers" (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck) investigates the emergence and institutionalization of early Christianity from its beginnings on into the 4th cent. CE in Alexandria, Antioch, Athens, Ephesus, Jerusalem, Corinth, Philippi, Rome, and Thessalonica. Through a consistently applied local-historical approach, a team of international experts will inquire into the ways in which early Christian groups were embedded in their urban cultural-religious milieu and how they developed into an influential and dominant entity. 

The new series "History of Biblical Exegesis" (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck) continues the series "Beiträge zur Geschichte der biblischen Exegese", which was published from 1955 until 1998, was edited by O. Cullmann, E. Käsemann, et al., and which encompassed 33 volumes.


The series "Church and Milieu" ("Kirche und Milieu"; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) aims to display the significance of the milieu perspective for church practice in a concrete manner by way of discrete examples. Theological foundations as well as empirical social-scientific data and analyses open up possibilites for action which is oriented to the addressees, is pastorally sensitive, and which sees and takes people seriously in their concrete lifeworld character and situation.

Previously published: 

  • Handbuch milieusensible Kommunikation des Evangeliums: Reflexionen, Dimensionen, praktische Umsetzungen (eds. H. Hempelmann, B. Schliesser, C. Schubert, P. Todjeras, and M. Weimer), Kirche und Milieu 4, Göttingen 2019.
  • Handbuch Bestattung. Impulse für eine milieusensible kirchliche Praxis (eds. H. Hempelmann, B. Schliesser, C. Schubert, and M. Weimer), Kirche und Milieu 3, Göttingen ²2019.
  • Auf dem Weg zu einer milieusensiblen Kirche. Die SINUS-Studie „Evangelisch in Baden und Württemberg“ und ihre Konsequenzen für kirchliche Handlungsfelder (eds. H. Hempelmann, U. Heckel, K. Hinrichs, and D. Peter), Kirche und Milieu 2, Neukirchen-Vluyn ²2019.
  • Handbuch Taufe. Impulse für eine milieusensible Taufpraxis (eds. H. Hempelmann, B. Schliesser, C. Schubert und M. Weimer), Kirche und Milieu 1, Neukirchen-Vluyn 2013.

The journal "Theologische Beiträge" (Witten: SCM Brockhaus) is the bridge between academic theology and ecclesial practice. It connects scholarly work and biblically-oriented faith. The "Theologische Beiträge" has one of the highest circulation rates among theological journals in Germany (publisher's text, trans. Institute for NT – Bern).