Durham University

Department of Theology and Religion

Profiles

Dr Dorothea Bertschmann

Honorary Fellow
(31 Dec 2016 - 31 Dec 2019) in the Department of Theology and Religion

Contact Dr Dorothea Bertschmann (email at d.h.bertschmann@durham.ac.uk)

Abstract

Is Paul a political quietist or a revolutionary? Recent scholarly debate has re-discovered the potentially subversive content, which is at the heart of the Pauline gospel: Jesus Christ is Lord. But does Paul translate this into a straightforward anti-Imperial political theology?

In my research I try to take a step back from the current exegetical debates and enter into discussion with two 20th century political theologians: Oliver O'Donovan and John Howard Yoder. Their approaches and insights highlight the relevant issues and categories at stake and help to form a conscious hermeneutical horizon. In the main part of my PhD I am using the concepts thus won as heuristic tools to probe once more the political potential, both promising and problematic in two Pauline key texts (Philippians 2: 5-11 and Romans 13:1-7).

My research so far suggests that while Paul's gospel reframes the cosmos and relativizes political rulers there are few bridges leading from the confession of Christ as Lord to a re-evaluation of political authority. The church, while clearly portrayed as a communal body under ultimate authority is not seen as a corporate player over against the state. This is initially disappointing but may also have liberating potential and point us more precisely to the shape of our present task of political theology.

Other Research Interests

I am interested in Pauline theology and ethics, in reception history and generally the interface between exegesis and systematic theology/ethics.