Research Concentration Medieval Theology

Giovanni di Paolo, Thomas von Aquin und Averroes (1450), St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri, U.S.A.

The research concentration "Medieval Theology" within the Department for Historical Theology studies theological texts and ideas from late antiquity to the threshold of modernity. It sponsors individual projects by providing a supportive academical environment, in which scholars benefit from substantial intra- and interdisciplinary expertise as well as from library and other research resources. As a joint effort of the members, it contributes to a new awareness for the richness and fertility of premodern theological thought and practice. The research concentration "Medieval Theology" distinguishes the Faculty of Theology at the University of Vienna within the German speaking academic world and beyond.

In this endeavour, the research concentration relies on the network of the "International Society for the Study of Medieval Theology" (IGTM) and supports its goals. The Society's yearbook "Archa Verbi", currently edited by members of the research concentration, serves as a preferred organ within the larger community of medieval theology worldwide.

The Importance of Medieval Theology  

The medieval period was crucial for the development of theology as an academic discipline as well as a complex philosophical, philological and spiritual endeavor to reflect on and respond to divine revelation. Medieval theology had an enormous impact not only for the development of doctrine and ethics, but also for the formation of social, ecclesial and cultural institutions in the modern period. Our secularized contemporary culture relies on numerous ideas, structures and institutions elaborated within medieval theological discourses.

Thus, our community of researchers is aware of the importance of medieval theology for questions and problems in our time. Religious controversies, political conflicts and intellectual debates on competing ideologies frequently originate in differences that emerged and developed during the Middle Ages. Modern or contemporary worldviews as well as philosophical and political concepts often depend on medieval debates. History has acknowledged these links and the importance of medieval culture for contemporary civilizations for long, while church history and theology, facing many impasses, are becoming more and more open to recognize and rediscover the importance of medieval theology.  

Benefits and values of studying medieval theology  

The study of medieval theology has not only a superficial value of simply better knowing our common past. Instead, it envisages to recognize cultural differences and to overcome polemics by suggesting solutions that take into account the history of conflicts, their causes, motives and responsibilities. The study of medieval theology inspires new insights and models in search of new plausibilities when speaking about faith, doctrine and theological knowledge.  

Last but not least, medieval theology is part of and interlocutor for other disciplines within the larger family of medieval studies and aspires to contribute to these fields from its own field, themes and results, while at the same time learning from other disciplines and taking their insights as occasions for refining theological understanding. 

German version