Triennial of religion 2013

The Precarious Knowledge of Religions:
Religious Sceneries of Risks and Theological Processing of Ventures

Religions have a proper knowledge of God. It is represented in the contents of religious teaching, the actually lived basic principles and in the specific convictions of the believers. This is especially true for the three religions of revelation and scripture: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The differences in their respective image of God become apparent in their historical relatedness and their religious relations, which are manifest in intertextual connections. A possible consequence of these differences are controversies about criteria of right interpretation as well as religious conflicts – not only between different traditions but also within one tradition. Thus the precarious knowledge of God becomes obvious in the ambivalence how to talk about God and how to act in the name of God. Nevertheless, religions also have capabilities to deal with and control those risks connected with the knowledge about Got. A "tolerance of ambiguity"1  (the capability to deal with ambiguous settings), a  theological competence of difference (the ability to endure divergent images of God) and a  willingness to relativization (the capability to productively deal with the different images of God in Judaism, Christianity and Islam) – these competences can be found in the theological traditions of each of the three monotheistic religions, a competence that made a history of religious tolerance possible. One common ground is the shared insight in  the impossibility of grasping God – an understanding that the revelation of God is intertwined with his concealment. This is the background for the multiple elements of negative theology that can be found in late-antique theologies2

This is the thematic background for the first part of the "Triennial of Religion" that aims at presenting and analyzing the precarious knowledge of religions in order to discuss the theological risks as well as the theological abilities to counter these risks. The main-speakers will deal with these topics from the perspective of their respective faith tradition using the methods of their specific discipline.  



  1. Cf. Thomas Bauer, Die Kultur der Ambiguität. Eine andere Geschichte des Islams, Berlin 2011, 26-53.
  2. Cf. Guy G. Stroumsa, Das Ende des Opferkults. Die religiösen Mutationen der Spätantike, Berlin 2011;  Angelika Neuwirth, Der Koran als Text der Spätantike. Ein europäischer Zugang, Berlin 2010.