As the basic document of Christianity, The New Testament raises the great questions of life and faith. Where do we humans come from and where are we going? What is love? What is faith? What is evil? Is praying meaningful? Besides such existential topics, New Testament research takes us into historically exciting contexts. How were the 27 “books” of the New Testament selected from the multitude of early Christian writings? How did people live as first-century Christians in Alexandria, Corinth or Rome? If you try to understand the New Testament, you must immerse yourself in the context of the Jewish and Hellenistic-Roman religions and cultures of the time.
New Testament scholarship pursues these questions in various subfields. New Testament exegesis (interpretation of the texts) examines the writings of the New Testament in their religious and cultural-historical context and asks about their genesis, their literary form, and their theological content. New Testament hermeneutics is concerned with the prerequisites for understanding the texts and with the challenge of bridging the great historical gap between then and now as well as determining the lasting theological and pragmatic statements of biblical texts.
At Bern, we pay special attention to teaching languages that are closely linked to the contents and sources of theology.