Seminars

Are you pursuing a master's degree at the PThU? Or are you a master student at another university? Or are you an alumnus, pastor or other interested party? You can partake in a PThU seminar. 

Practical information

All seminars are offered in semester 1. You can take seminars in period 1 (September to November) or period 2 (November to January). To register for one of the seminars, please contact our admissions office.

Seminars period 1

  • Multidisciplinary Spiritual Care

    Practical information

    Level: master
    Size: 7,5 ECTS
    Language: English
    Lecture day: Wednesday
    Location: Amsterdam and Groningen (with live connection between the two locations)

    Description

    This seminar welcomes both Christian students and students with other spiritual (including non-religious) backgrounds. Participants are in the Master phase of one of the following studies:

    • theology
    • chaplaincy
    • medicine
    • nursing studies
    • health care sciences
    • pedagogy
    • psychology
    • sociology
    • criminology 
    • anthropology

    People living with a serious disease, or having served in the army, have spiritual questions ('zingevingsvragen'). For example, does my wife still love me, now that I suffer from dementia? Will society accept me, once I have served my time in prison? Frequently, these questions are closely interwoven with their relationships with significant others. Not only can these relationships be sources of strength but also are they part of spiritual struggles.

    For believers, their relationships with significant others include their relationship with God and their (community of) faith. Christian theology is one of the sources that offers ideas, images and language to reflect on these existential questions and issues.

    In this seminar, students acquire practical and academic skills necessary to provide spiritual care to persons struggling with the just posed questions. Spiritual care, in this course, is approached in a multidisciplinary way and each student will learn to provide spiritual care at a basic level. Students in theology, including students in chaplaincy, will learn to provide it at an advanced level.

    The course helps students to improve their competences in providing spiritual care and to teach (future) colleagues on spiritual care, based on available evidence and students’ own qualitative research. Most classes will include reflection on one’s own beliefs, spirituality and worldviews.

    Teaching staff

  • The Adventures of Lady Wisdom

    The Adventures of Lady Wisdom. Hokhma/Sophia in Jewish and Christian Traditions

    Level: master
    Size: 7,5 ECTS
    Language: English
    Lecture day: Friday 
    Location: Amsterdam

    Sophia Icons Kyiv type 13:58

    Description

    The seminar provides an overview of the figure of personified Wisdom as she/he is presented in the Hebrew Bible (Job, Proverbs), and in its interpretation in Second Temple Texts (Apocrypha of the OT, Dead Sea Scrolls), Jewish-Hellenistic literature (Philo), NT, Church Fathers, Protestant Mysticism, and modern thinkers (Thomas Merton ao), as well as Orthodox icons. Each week is devoted to one literary tradition (for instance Hebrew Bible, Philo, rabbinic literature, Merton and so on), as well as (one week) about icons.

    In the iscussion of the interpretative traditions, explcit attention will be given to issues of gender. The texts and icons, in their religious and cultural-historical background, are introduced by various experts in filmed courses that the students have to watch each week before the meeting and watch again afterwards.

    During the contact hours, students and teachers discuss the filmed lecture, ask and answer questions, discuss the source texts and additional material. In addition, students work on assignments and research. PThU master students complete the seminar by writing an individual research paper.

    Teaching staff

  • Reenchantment and Ethics

    Practical information

    Level: master
    Size: 7,5 ECTS
    Language: English
    Lecture day: Friday 
    Location: Amsterdam

    Description

    The rise of modern science has gone hand in hand with the idea that the world is, ultimately, an empty and silent place. The sciences, on this view, have disenchanted the world: while we used to believe that the world contains magical forces we cannot control such as God(s) and spirits, and that the world is a place filled with value and meaning, we now know better. The physical world follows causal laws without a moral meaning. All meaning is projected onto the world by human beings, and therefore contingent. This disenchantment narrative, however, is increasingly being criticized. Recent years have seen the rise of a theological-philosophical debate that seeks to point to the limits of the disenchantment narrative by deploying the notion of ‘reenchantment’.

    The course ‘Reenchantment and Ethics’ explores this debate and its importance for ethics. It consists of two main parts. In the first part of the course we will we investigate the phenomena of disenchantment and reenchantment. We will study the history, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the view that the world is a disenchanted place. Moreover, we will explore a number of important recent texts that advocate and criticise the idea of reenchantment.

    In the second part we will explore the ramifications of reenchantment for ethics. The starting point will be the idea that a moment of ‘enchantment’ is crucial for morality: morality cannot do without the non-projective experience of being called to account or to moral action. This view of morality is central to a classic text in ethics by the Danish philosopher and theologian Knud Eljer Løgstrup (1905-1981), The Ethical Demand. This book which was originally published in 1956 has been translated anew in 2020 (Oxford University Press) and remains an original contribution to the field of ethics and theology. It is particularly challenging to read and evaluate it against the background of the current debate on reenchantment.

    Teaching staff

  • Liberal theology in Modernity and Postmodernity

    Practical information

    Level: master
    Size: 7,5 ECTS
    Language: Engels
    Lecture day: Friday 
    Location: Amsterdam

    Description

    Liberal theology has its roots in the beginning of the nineteenth century. It criticized orthodox supernaturalism and Biblicism but underlined the importance of religion. At the beginning of the twentieth century it was sharply criticized by dialectical theologians, who forced it to redefine itself. In the course of the twentieth century liberal theology was criticized for being bourgeois by liberation theology, and fell victim to sharp critique from the postmodern side. Yet, a liberal theological tradition developed that tries to mediate Christianity and (post)modern culture.

    In this course we will ask, what is liberal theology. We will pay attention to its great scholars, Schleiermacher, Troeltsch and Tillich. Next, we will focus on liberal theology – a modern way of doing theology – in a postmodern context. We will draw our attention to the work of Richard Kearney, John Caputo and Catherine Keller, whose theology presupposes a liberal theology, yet incorporates a postmodern point of view, and still upholds a religious perspective. They developed a theology of ‘God after God’ from various backgrounds and in different ways, yet seem to accord in several respects.

    Teaching staff

  • Covenant and Baptism

    Practical information

    Level: master
    Size: 7,5 ECTS
    Language: English
    Lecture day: Wednesday 
    Location: Amsterdam

    Description

    Baptism and Lord’s Supper are the oldest and most fundamental practices of the Christian Church. In baptism, the life of the person receiving baptism is connected to the triune God. In reformed Protestantism, baptism is closely linked to the notion of the covenant. Baptism marks the inclusion in the covenant that God bestows. The relationship between God and the believer is therefore asymetric.

    From the outset, the covenant has been very important for the foundations of the practice of child baptism. Today, the practice of baptizing children is called into question, because as autonomous individuals they do not have the opportunity to make their own decisions. What does this mean for the perception of baptism and the theology of baptism at a time when autonomy of the subject is paramount and the notion that one is part of a community plays much less of a role? Another question, which is being discussed to this day, is what happens when one is baptized. How is salvation mediated in the ritual? On the basis of central texts, a cross-section of the Reformed theology will be offered over the centuries.

    Teaching staff

  • Communities With Impact

    Practical information

    Level: master
    Size: 7,5 ECTS
    Language: English
    Lecture day: Wednesday and Friday
    Location: Groningen

    Description

    In this course we will take cognizance of research into the social form and functioning of Christian communities in antiquity and today's, largely secular, times. We aim at understanding how Christian core beliefs, values, master narratives and cultural influences shape the identity and communal practices of these communities, how they express their faith, how they interact with the surrounding world and how they develop to cope with challenges from within and without.
    Groups from two phases of Christian history will be studied as examples: first the earliest (to become) Christian communities formed by Paul and his co-workers in the first century CE, second, Christian communities in the Netherlands of the late 20th and early 21st century. Both situations are characterized by the fact that the communities can be described as minority groups in a society where other belief and value systems dominate. How did the first Jewish-Christian groups establish their identity and practices vis a vis Jewish and Greco-Roman majority views and managed to attract nonbelievers? How do contemporary Christian communities establish their identity and practices, coping with the challenges of post-Christian society?

    Teaching staff

  • Cross-Cultural communication of the Gospel

    Practical information

    Level: master
    Size: 7,5 ECTS
    Language: English
    Lecture day: Wednesday and Friday
    Location: Groningen

    Description

    This course will create a greater awareness for the cultural distance that often exists between local expressions of the Christian faith and the variety of communities and networks that surround it and in which its members may also move. It will introduce and critically evaluate models of contextualisation that help root the Christian message and praxis in these various contexts and models for proclaiming the Gospel in a multicultural world that allows communities to both embrace cultural diversity within itself and of its contexts, yet remain an expression of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church”. Course sessions include theories of communication, theologies of culture, the role of community in communication and the communicative power of practices.

  • Understanding Bible and Christian Tradition

    Practical information

    Level: master
    Size: 7,5 ECTS
    Language: English
    Lecture day: Wednesday and Friday
    Location: Groningen

    Description

    In the course we focus on some of the stepping stones in the Christian tradition of reflection on the interpretation and understanding of Christian faith in its historical form.  The history of interpretation starts within the Bible itself. Reading (Biblical) texts involves bridging historical and cultural distances between texts and readers in which new understandings of Christian faith are gained and expressed.  We study the theoretical (methodological, philosophical and theological) decisions and implications in the theories of interpretation and understanding of Philo of Alexandria, Augustine, Luther, Schleiermacher, Barth/Bultmann and Kwok Pui-lan (as a representative of the recent tradition in feminist, post-colonial and multifaith interpretation). We investigate the challenges their theories were answering in their own historical, cultural and intellectual contexts and ask for the lasting relevance of their contributions. These are tested in the praxis of intercultural Bible reading in class and compared to documented results of and reflections on intercultural Bible reading elsewhere.

    Teaching staff

Seminars period 2

  • Christian Social Service in Europe

    Practical information

    Level: master
    Size: 7,5 ECTS
    Language: Engels
    Lecture day: Friday
    Location: Amsterdam

    Description

    The seminar is about diaconal work in Europe, or faith based work for social justice, social care and inclusion for all people, especially for people in the most vulnerable situations in society. All Christian diakonia is meant to create a space for new breathing, for liberation, for dignity and for comfort which allows for the regenerating of life.

    Diaconal work, often referred to as Christian Social Work, used to have in Europe a close relationship with churches and ecclesiastical practices. In recent decades most of these Christian inspired activities and organisations developed themselves as (semi-)independent NGO’s, still working by the same mission of enhancing human dignity, initiating and supporting actions that contribute to social justice and inclusion. Diaconal services in diverse European countries show remarkable differences in shape, expression, financial sources, and in their relation to church, state and other NGO’s.

    This seminar has a focus on the identity of Diakonia as a contextual practice. It includes the following topics:

    1. theological foundations and outlooks on Diakonia in Europe
    2. the position of diaconal work in society 
    3. the ethics of the diaconal practice with an emphasis on the dynamics of power within relations of care
  • The Hebrew Bible in its ancient Near Eastern context

    Practical information

    Level: master
    Size: 7,5 ECTS
    Language: English
    Lecture day: Friday
    Location: Amsterdam

    Description

    The Bible forms part of the broad literature of the ancient Near East, as is shown by many biblical references to customs, laws, religious concepts, and so on, that were common in the context of the Bible. Of course, our growing knowledge of ancient Near Eastern thinking has its consequences for biblical exegesis and the way in which the Bible can be used in systematic theology, preaching, and so on.

    In this course, students will get insight into important theological themes in the Bible that also play an important role in non-biblical texts from the ancient Near East (for instance Creation, Providence, Evil and the Devil, Morals, Covenant, Prayer, Sickness and Healing). Especially the correspondences and differences will be analysed, as well as the theological consequences for biblical and systematic theology.

    Students will write a final paper in which they compare a passage or a theme from the Hebrew Bible with relevant non-biblical texts from the ancient Near East. Knowledge of biblical Hebrew is recommendable. A basic introduction to Ugaritic is optional. The analysis of non-biblical texts is done on the basis of English translations.

    Teaching staff

  • Translating the Bible: Exegetical, Historical and Practical Perspectives

    Practical information

    Level: master
    Size: 7,5 ECTS
    Language: English
    Lecture day: Wednesday
    Location: Groningen

    Description

    Translating the Bible is an art, a craft and a lifestyle that is performed consciously or unconsciously on many levels every time when individuals or communities of faith take the Bible into consideration in their life and their work. From this overarching perspective and basic experience we choose two fields for a deep study of the divers dimensions involved.

    The course consists of two parts:

    • an exegetical and hermeneutical part devoted to problems of translating individual biblical texts from their original language into modern languages (taught by Annette Merz) and
    • a church historical part devoted to Abraham Kuypers vision of translating the Bible into Christian action in a modern, democratic context (taught by Gert van Klinken).

    Besides the lessons given by the main lecturers we will have the opportunity to profit from expert knowledge provided by guest speakers (professional Bible translators and prof. Hans-Georg Ulrichs, an expert on Kuyper) and will explore the visible traces of Kuypers ideas in the urban landscape of Groningen on an seminar excursion. Students will follow all seminars and take a written take home exam on the content of both parts (counting 40%), they give a presentation (20%) and write a paper in one area (Old/New Testament or Church History: 40%).

    Biblical Part: Translating the Bible: Art and Craft

    The history, theory and practice of translating the Bible will be treated from several angles, by studying and discussing selected chapters from the books of Wilt and Noss and some additional reading (provided in a reader) and by discussing student’s work of translation and comparison of different translations of Biblical Texts. Students will keep a logbook with own translations of Bible passages into English or Dutch using different theories of translation and translating for different target groups and contexts (e.g. congregational service, Sunday school, general public, exegetical paper). At the end of the course they will be able to compare their own translations to distinct published translations and reflect on hermeneutical, exegetical, and practical questions that are related to the translation process in general and relevant to the chosen passage in particular.

    Church-historical part: Abraham Kuyper: Translating the Bible into Christian Action

    Reading the Bible belongs to the central phenomena in Church history. The aim may be described as an effort to translate the Hebrew and Greek texts of Scripture into a proper understanding of the original context, that is also able to shape Christian life in the present. But how can words, written down so many centuries ago, remain viable and inspiring? This question marks the starting point for a series of lectures by the Dutch Reformed theologian Abraham Kuyper, delivered at Princeton University (USA) in 1898. As a Calvinist with an active interest in the development of contemporary church, science and politics, Kuyper is very much aware of the fact that recent developments in these areas pose a challenge for the exegesis and application of the Biblical message. Yet he remains convinced of the vital possibility, perhaps even necessity, of rejuvenating modern society by the application of central tenets of a Protestant worldview based on Scripture. Proper exegesis, in Kuyper’s view, will always be followed by a comprehensive program of translating the Bible into Christian action.

    The first of the Princeton lectures discusses Calvinism as a Life System, based on Biblical notions of the relationship between God and man. The following lectures discourse on Calvinism and Religion (Biblical notions: sin and redemption, priesthood of believers), Calvinism and Politics (Biblical notion: sovereignty of God), Calvinism and Science (Biblical notion: providence), Calvinism and Art (Biblical notion: creation) and Calvinism and the Future (Biblical notion: covenant).

    While critics argue that Kuyper, in his desire to translate Biblical notions into a viable program for Christian action in modern democratic context, tries to achieve the impossible, his ideas still offer inspiration for many. Background information on Kuyper is provided by James Bratt (USA), while German pastor and theologian Hans-Georg Ulrichs affirms the inspirational value of Kuyper’s Princeton lectures in a volume in 2019. Ulrichs will be available to join a life discussion with students of this course via a Zoom connection. The original text of Kuyper’s Lectures on Calvinism is widely available via the Internet and in recent international editions.

    Teaching staff

  • Ethics of dignity

    Practical information

    Level: master
    Size: 7,5 ECTS
    Language: English
    Lecture day: Wednesday
    Location: Groningen and Amsterdam

    Description

    In this course we will start with an historical, conceptual and theological exploration of the concept of human dignity. We analyse different meanings and uses, such as:

    • dignity as merit
    • dignity as an inalienable right
    • dignity as the capacity for self-determination and autonomy
    • dignity as human flourishing

    We will relate these views to theological views on human dignity. Along two lines we will elaborate on this theoretical exploration:

    • along the line of the relationship between dignity and human rights including the debate on the historical and systematic foundation of both concepts in the Christian tradition
    • along the line of the role human dignity plays within end-of life decisions and debates, starting from the debates on euthanasia in the Netherlands, again including theological positions within this debate

    In a third step we bring the different elements of this course together and make an effort to formulate a ‘politics of care’. All students can contribute from their own contexts to a theologically valid justification of care for the dignity of vulnerable people and to the ways these can be shaped in various, religiously plural, political contexts.

    Teaching staff

  • New Ecclesial Communities

    Practical information

    Level: master
    Size: 7,5 ECTS
    Language: English
    Lecture day: Friday
    Location: Groningen

    Description

    We study and discuss different views on mission, based on the works of Moynagh and Hoekendijk.

    During the first part of the course we will engage in close reading of texts of these theologians, tracing their views on mission, church and the world in their different historical contexts.

    The second part of our course has a strong empirical component, where we will study new forms of developing church. Informed by different views on mission, diakonia and ecclesiology, students will visit a new ecclesial community (for example a pioneer church, diaconal initiative, church plant) and conduct interviews and do observations.

    The field work and theoretical perspectives will be evaluated and discussed in class.

  • Theology of Interreligious Encounter and Witness

    Practical information

    Level: master
    Size: 7,5 ECTS
    Language: English
    Lecture day: Friday
    Location: Groningen

    Description

    In this course, we will explore recent theological developments in the theology of religions in so far as they as they have a bearing on the possibilities and praxis of intercultural encounter, learning and witness and life together. Specific attention will be given to the question of the finality of the revelation of God in Christ, the role of the Spirit and a spirituality that allows for confidence and openness and ‘prophetic dialogue’. We will study some of the challenges of interreligious encounter with specific examples in view, particularly, but not exclusively with Islam. We will also discuss the implications of new phenomena such as dual religious belonging and so-called insider movements for interreligious encounter and witness. A final area of attention will relate to the political and social challenges of living together in religiously pluralist societies.

    Teaching staff

  • The Spirit as guide: Pneumatology and Spirituality

    Practical information

    Level: master
    Size: 7,5 ECTS
    Language: English
    Lecture day: Wednesday
    Location: Groningen

    Description

    The study of spiritual practices combines two dimensions.

    • Anthropologically, these practices concern human interactions, individual experiences and cultural expressions.
    • Theologically, spiritual practices are about God’s Spirit and the presence of the Spirit in these cultural expressions and human interactions.

    In this course we study spiritual practices according to these two dimensions. The first line in the course consists of the reconstruction of the pneumatological dimensions in three recent theologies from different cultural backgrounds in order to understand the relationship between cultures and the presence of the Spirit. The second line concerns the empirical study of spiritual practices according to participative and comparative methods. These practices are selected biographically and culturally.

    The course is research based and we aim to discover:

    1. how recent theologies of the Spirit interact with spiritual practices
    2. how this contributes to further understanding the interface of pneumatology and culture.

    During the course students work towards a scholarly article on the interface of pneumatology and culture, by studying concrete examples of spiritual practices. In the classes we create a setting of a ‘writing workshop’ with methodical contributions on research and writing and theological content on pneumatology and spirituality.

    Teaching staff

Cookies

Cookies help us improve your experience on our website. Functional cookies contribute to a smoothly running website. Analytical cookies provide us with insight into how users use the website. Marketing cookies allow us to offer you personalised content based on your website visit.