Departmental Research Areas

The respective research focus areas and research projects of the five departments of the Faculty of Theology and Religion are aligned with the four research themes of the Faculty, namely Religion and Sustainable Development, Inclusive cities/communities, Religion and Science, and Economy, ecology and theology.

The five departments’ research focus areas and research projects are the following:

New Testament and Related Literature

The research focus areas of the Department are the social-scientific study of the New Testament, the post-colonial reading of ancient texts, African hermeneutics, rhetorical culture (a study of orality and its implications for biblical texts), and the abductive reading of ancients texts as hermeneutical approach. Flowing from these foci, the members of the Department currently are  facilitating the following research projects: the parables of Jesus, healing in the New Testament, ancient identities and identity formation, embodiment as religious expression, a ritual/functional analysis of New Testament texts, and sexuality in the New Testament.

Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures

Old Testament Studies comprises a broad field of disciplines and sub-disciplines. To have an academic grip or specialised expertise on them all is impossible for one Department with four people. Although staff lectures undergraduate modules on the broad content and sub-disciplines of the Old Testament, only a selection of focused research projects, initiatives and forums of the Department serve as focus for research. This includes the following:

  1. Pentateuch research (ProPent) (Sias Meyer, Jurie le Roux): A long-term project studying the texts of the Pentateuch. This includes the exegesis, theologies, hermeneutics, and composition of this corpus. Also the relationship between these texts and the rest of the Old Testament and extra-biblical texts are investigated. The project is conducted in close cooperation with Prof Eckart Otto (LMU, Germany) and other international experts.

  2. Psalms and poetic literature (ProPsalms)​ (Dirk Human): A long-term project studying the texts of the Psalms and poetic literature. This includes the exegesis, theologies, hermeneutics, and composition of this corpus. Also the relationship between these texts and the rest of the Old Testament and extra-biblical texts are investigated. The project is conducted in close cooperation with the Department of Ancient Languages (UP) and other international experts.

  3. Prophetic literature (ProProf) (Alphonso Groenewald): A younger initiative with similar objectives as the abovementioned two projects.

  4. Second Temple and Qumran research (Ananda Geyser-Fouché, Pieter Venter): Various aspects of this Old Testament corpus and Inter-testament period are investigated.
  5. African Contextual Hermeneutics research (research associates): Investigating the use, interpretation and application of Old Testament texts in various African contexts.

The abovementioned research topics are most relevant for the formation of ministers and pastors of religion (practitioners). They further contribute to the academic capacity building of theologians (academics). In an eclectic and exemplary way these topics cover a whole range of Old Testament texts and themes, which are important for public theological discussions.

Specialisation in these topics builds expertise which is important for national and international academic debate. To address relevant theological themes in Church and society the above themes provide multiple possibilities. Time and occasion determine the actuality and choice of a relevant theme.

Practical Theology and Mission Studies

Pathways out of homelessness (Phase II)

Since 2014 a coherent research agenda was developed in the City of Tshwane, bringing the city, the Tshwane Homelessness Forum, the University of Pretoria and the University of South Africa together. This has led to innovative research documenting practices and narratives that demonstrate pathways out of homelessness.  

We are now preparing to implement phase II of this project, which offers an exciting study opportunity to do research with dedicated researchers from various disciplines, in a way that combines research, concrete action and social justice. Phase II will focus on gaining deeper understanding of the dynamics, causes and possible solutions to elderly homelessness, student homelessness and the interface of chronic mental illness and homelessness in the City of Tshwane. Through ethnographies with people living on the streets, and case studies of practices seeking to facilitate pathways out of homelessness, we hope to contribute to new knowledge on the subject, but also to real alternatives for people who are currently very vulnerable.

If you would like to participate, contact [email protected]

Joint project of the Centre for Faith and Society and Department of Practical Theology on Youth Ministry

The project entitled "Youth ministry and faith development in South Africa" is led by Proff Malan Nel and Yolanda Dreyer. Currently there are 9 participants. Some 8 more will be invited to join. The project will run from 2012 to 2017. The research will focus on Christian education and the integration of education and family ministry. A core team of researchers consisting of people who have obtained doctorates in Youth Ministry and people who are currently working in Youth Ministry on a doctoral or master's level, will participate in a longitudinal research programme. Publications in the form of articles and possibly a book are envisaged.

Religion Studies

The nature of Religion

  • Religion in Africa
  • Expressions of Christianity in Africa
  • Annual Bengu Memorial Lecture presented by the Evangelical community in South Africa under the leadership of dr Dan Lephoko
  • Annual series of public lectures with Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Society (AENES)

Religion and violence:

  • Annual departmental Conference
  • Radicalization of Religion (project in collaboration with Leuven University)
  • Annual Religion and Violence lecture in collaboration with the Argentine Embassy

Religion and visual culture (in collaboration with UP School of Arts)

  • Material religion

Religion and Education (in collaboration with UP Faculty of Education)

  • How to teach Religion Studies
  • Religion in the school system

Sociology of religion (in collaboration with the UP Department of Sociology)

  • The effect of the 4th Industrial Revolution on religion

Inter-religious dialogue

  • Encounterology
  • In collaboration with the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life (OCRPL)
  • In collaboration with an international team of scholars working on Christian-Muslim Relations (CMR 1900)

Religion and Health

  • Part of undergraduate module

Scriptural Reasoning

  • Religion in society

Systematic and Historical Theology

  • Evolutionary Theology with special reference to religious experience and the science-religion dialogue.
  • Early Church Fathers, Reformation history and does research in the areas of Justice.
  • South African Church History, poverty and society.
  • Systematic Theology: Doctrine of the Trinity, Eschatology; Ecclesiology and Theological Anthropology; Political Theology and the notion of reconciling diversity; Feminist Theology and Ethics; Gender, Religion and Sustainable Development (SG 5); Christian Spirituality (mystic spirituality); Christian Ethics: Ethics of human sexuality, Euthanasia. 
  • Liberation Theology

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