Departmental Research Focus Areas

Old Testament Studies

  • Pentateuch texts and themes (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.

  • Psalms and poetic text and themes (Dirk Human)

A long-term project studying the texts of the Psalms and poetic literature. This includes the exegesis, theologies, hermeneutics, and composition of poetical texts in the Old Testament.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.

  • Prophetic and Isaian texts and themes (Alphonso Groenewald)

An initiative with similar objectives as the abovementioned two projects.

  • Second Temple Literature themes (Ananda Geyser-Fouché, Dirk Human)

Various aspects of this Old Testament corpus and Inter-testamental period are investigated.

  • Contextual Hermeneutics (with research associates)

Investigating the use, interpretation and application of Old Testament texts in various African contexts.

  • Bible translation (emeriti, Sias Meyer, Dirk Human)

This initiative includes existing and on-going projects in cooperation with the Bible Society of South Africa.

New Testament Studies

Research in New Testament Studies focuses particularly on the analysis, description and relevance of Judaeo-Christian identities. It is conducted on the nexus of Hellenistic Judaism and Early Christianity as situated within the broader contexts of late antiquity. The research foci are:

  • Jewish Scriptures used by early Christian societies

To identify and reconstruct the earliest text forms of the Greek Old Testament from explicit quotations in Philo of Alexandria and the New Testament writers in order to establish the rationale of early Christian hermeneutics; Septuagint (LXX) Studies (Gert Steyn);

  • Social-scientific studies on the New Testament

To establish a post-modern ethics based on the values of the historical Jesus (Ernest van Eck);

· Identity formation and social transformation in early Christianity

To establish the ethical and missiological principles which directed early Christian societies (Kobus Kok)

  • Biblical hermeneutics in the context of African societies

To establish responsible socio-religious mechanisms for the use and application of biblical texts in the contexts of African societies.

Practical Theology

  • Social Cohesion, Reconciliation and Ecumenism (Julian Müller, Johann Meylahn, Stephan de Beer)

A project on the relationship between 'forgiveness', 'reconciliation' and 'restitution' in the South African context and the development of social cohesion.

A project on the shifting identities of the rural, urban and virtual poor, re-imagining a discourse of reconciliation and social cohesion in South Africa.

A project which maps, describes and reflects upon urban (dis)engagements of church and theology, in relation to social inclusion and cohesion; homelessness and housing; children and youth at risk; and theological education.

  • Liturgical and Ritual Studies (Cas Wepener)

A project on the role of religious ritual in social capital formation in African communities. A project on preaching in a context of poverty with a focus on sermons on poverty from Matthew 25:31-46.

  • Pastoral Engagement Today (Yolanda Dreyer, Maake Masango)

A project on Sola Scriptura – source of unity or division in the Reformed tradition?

A project on gender, power, sexuality and pastoral engagement, including life history research with adolescent orphans affected by HIV/AIDS from a gender, psycho-social, spiritual perspective, and pastoral care with sexual minorities.

A project on violence and pastoral care in Africa.

  • Youth, Spirituality and Identity

An interdenominational project on church, youth and religion in South Africa focusing on the impact of spirituality on the identity formation of young people.

A project on post-traumatic spirituality and the effect of personal trauma such as abuse on the spirituality of children and young people.

A project on youth ministry and faith development in Southern Africa

  • Faith and the city (Stephan de Beer)

Exploring (dis)engagements of church and theology in relation to healing urban fractures, with particular reference to the City of Tshwane

Participation in the Capital Cities IRT

  • Spirituality and health (Stephan de Beer, Johann Meylahn, Andre de la Porte)

Exploring the relationship between spirituality and health, the retrieval of spirituality and public and professional health care institutions, and the contribution of spirituality to healing and wholeness

  • Informality and early childhood development (Hannes van der Walt)

Discovering the asset of informal early childhood development centres in the Rustenburg-Phokeng area, exploring the constraints and opportunities of legislation regarding early childhood development, and charting a way ahead.

Dogmatics and Christian Ethics

  • Evolutionary Theology with special reference to religious experience and the science-religion dialogue (Danie Veldsman);
  • The fields of the theology-science dialogue, creation, ontology, epistemology, anthropology, eco-hermeneutics and eschatology (Johan Buitendag);
  • As social ethicist he conducts research on the ethics of systems, precesses and institutions in Southern Africa (Willem Fourie);
  • As liberation theologian he focuses his research interests on themes such as democracy, economics, ecclesiology, public theology and spirituality (Vuyani Vellem);
  • Christian Ethics with special reference to an ethics of responsibility (Etienne de Villiers);
  • Doctrinal theology and Theological Symbolism (Con Wethmar);
  • Whole brain spirituality in light of transdisciplinary theology (Gys Loubser).

Religion Studies

Research in the Department focuses particularly on the analysis, description and relevance of the world religions and the Christian church, and how they, together with the sciences and indigenous knowledge systems, can play a role (positively or negatively) in a Christian missiology of life. It is conducted on the nexus of religion, Christian faith and the daily lives of people in households and communities as situated within the broader context of the 21st century Southern Africa and Africa.

  • studies on the world religions and inter-religious dialogue (Jaco Beyers);
  • studies in missional theology, ecclesiology and leadership (Nelus Niemandt);
  • studies in African Christianity, the history of mission in Africa, inclusive spirituality (Ubuntu) (Thias Kgatla); and
  • studies in improving the quality of life of households and communities (Attie van Niekerk).

Church History and Church Polity

Research in the Department focuses particularly on South African history grounded in investigating the past with a view to developing a sound historical consciousness and understanding of Christianity, which are indispensable to authentic and relevant ministry and theology. This vision is pursued in an ecumenical context. Within the faculty research theme, Oikodome, the department’s research will focus on Africa: Life, leadership and poverty. This will investigate church historical perspectives on the development of democracy, respect for human dignity and the role of the church in promoting social justice.

  • Poverty: the role of the church in South Africa as an NGO (Johan van der Merwe).
  • Reformed Church polity (Johan van der Merwe).
  • history of Presbyterianism in southern Africa (Graham Duncan)
  • Augustine and Manichaean Christianity (Hans van Oort)
  • Church Polity in ecumenical perspective (Leo Koffeman and Mark Hill)
  • Ecclesiololgy (Wim Dreyer).


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