One of the most interesting aspects of working here in Tübingen is coming into contact with diverse Christian traditions...not only the two standard denominational labels here in Germany ("evangelisch" or "katholisch"), but other Christian families and traditions as well. Students in Theological German & English are not only Lutheran, but also Orthodox, Methodist, Baptist and Reformed--and that diversity makes for intense and challenging discussions. Early this morning, black-clad Orthodox priests were streaming into the Tübingen Old City from all directions, heading for the main church (Stiftskirche), where the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople (leader of the Orthodox Churches) was to receive an honorary doctorate from the Protestant Faculty of the University...I ended up walking with a group of priests who had lost their way and discovered that they came from all over the world. Security was tight: no handbags or coats, and each guest was expected to produce photo ID. Prof Tilly, in his role as Dean, introduced the Patriarch and awarded the doctorate. Patriarch Bartholomew then gave a short lecture--in German, no less! He urged Protestant Christians here in Germany, where they are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation (the "Lutherjahr", as it is called), not just to trace their roots back to Luther--but to trace their roots all the way back to the "Urchristentum", to the early church...that reminded me of the vision of this Institute: the study of Christian origins / Erforschung des Urchristentums.
HEAVEN IS A FEAST
Last week, Dr Claudia Bergmann from the University of Erfurt read a paper for the colloquium on "The Messiah and the Meal." She examined how in both Judaism and in Christianity, there are descriptions of a meal or feast in the world to come. She made fascinating observations about commensality--the act of eating / sharing a meal together (you can't hold a feast all alone!), and what sharing a meal means both in social and in theological terms. She also discussed various passages in the NT in which Christ the Messiah not only takes part in the feast(Matt 26:29) but invites and even serves the guests (Luke 12:37). Striking to consider that the Lord's Supper is a dress rehearsal for the heavenly feast.
Tübingen 01.June 2017