(C2-16) Interreligious Theology

Religious discourse on truth traditionally takes place by drawing on the sources of one’s own religious tradition. At the same time, other religions often come up as no more than a negative backdrop although in effect there have indeed been numerous mutual borrowings and influences between religions. At present, a development is beginning to show in several areas – in conjunction with a far more positive perception of other religions – that not only one’s own religious tradition is consciously and systematically resorted to in the case of theological questions, but other religions, too. Therefore, interreligious theology of this kind is currently a central form of the “transfer between world religions” dealt with in the cooperation project. Going by terms such as “global theology”, “world theology”, inter-faith theology” and the like, interreligious theology has gained more and more attention over the past decades and this will probably continue to increase in future.

The projects will investigate the beginnings and manifestations of the development of interreligious theology. The focus will be on interreligious learning processes which are to be localised methodically in a first step and thematically analysed in a second step. In what areas of theology are such interreligious learning processes manifest? What opportunities in terms of content become apparent as regards the advancement of theology’s self-conception towards interreligious theology? What are the problems and critical enquiries that arise? In addition to this rather general perspective, the potentials of interreligious theology are to be substantiated in a third step on the basis of Christian-Buddhist learning processes.

An expert symposium on “Interreligious Theology” was held in November 2012 in cooperation with the University of Basel (Prof. Dr. Reinhold Bernhardt). Its results will be published at Theologischer Verlag Zürich in 2013. In addition, a close cooperation with the Academy of World Religions at the University of Hamburg within the framework of project “Religion and Dialogue in modern Societies” funded by the BMBF has been existing since 2012. The project deals, among other things, with the beginnings of interreligious theology from the perspectives of different religions. To achieve an exemplary concretion of a Christian-Buddhist theology, a Christian commentary (monograph) on the Bodhicaryāvatāra by Śāntideva (8th century) as part of the series Christian Commentaries on Non-Christian Sacred Texts will be published.

The Project is part of interconnecting platform F Transcultural Entanglements and coordinated project group Exchange among and between ‘world religions’: appropriation – transformation – demarcation.


In a separate subproject, research assistant Dr. Jutta Sperber investigates the question of the idea of man in an interreligious context. She pursues this focus notably within the scope of an extensive study about the anthropological aspects in the Vatican’s Christian-Muslim dialogues. The study is carried out at the invitation of the “Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue” and will review all material on the Catholic-Muslim dialogue from the Second Vatican Council until the end of the papacy of John Paul II (papal statements and publications of the said council, be they of a more general nature or on dialogues made). The aim, on the one hand, is to make accessible in a compact form this very scattered material, which largely belongs to the so-called “grey literature” (the study will be published in English, with abridged German and Italian versions). On the other hand, aspects which focus on man and human coexistence will be addressed in detail. Work on this study is well advanced. It will be submitted as a professorial dissertation upon completion.

Fabian Völker is working on a PhD project on the Neo-Buddhist work of David Loy. Loy is currently one of the most renowned Buddhist thinkers with a western background. With his non-dual philosophy building on different religious traditions, David Loy claims an interreligious foundation on which he likewise establishes a social ethics and ecological ethics which aim at today’s specific challenges.