Salvation and healing

For many decades, Early Christianity was only studied in German theology faculties using the theological concepts of great theologians like Origen, Athanasius, Tertullian or Augustine. Studies focused, as it were, on the intellectual side. In the past years, interest in everyday Christian life has been increasing and, in line with this, interest not only in intellectual, but also in physical aspects.

The triumphal march of Christianity and the progressing Christianisation of society also obviously had to do with the fact that people in antiquity recognised in the new religion a force and/or power that could be useful for them, both in life and in death. What was of special importance in conveying this notion was that there was not only talk in the Christian missions of the intellectual side of the religion, but sick people were healed and demons driven out, something historically associated with Jesus.

A series of institute projects will be looking at this dimension of the physical in the history of Early Christianity, both with respect to the history of the body of God and the human body. This research aims to find answers to the following question, among others: In what way were the salvation cults in antiquity and the notions of salvation changed by Christianity? How did Christian healing react to the professional medicine and the semi-professional healing arts of pagan antiquity?

This question will be dealt with above all as part of SFB 644 "Transformations in antiquity", as Christian healing always rests upon transformed medicine and the healing arts in antiquity. The work in this project is structured similarly to the three programme periods into three distinct, but still connected themes: "Salvation and healing" (2005-2008), "Body and salvation" (2009-2012) as well as "Demons and salvation" (2013-2016).