A range of academic activities exists to foster a research culture in the Department. The most important projects include:
In August 2000 ‘ProPent’ (‘Project for Pentateuch Studies’) was founded by Profs JH le Roux and E Otto as a joint project between the University of Pretoria and the Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) of Munich. The partnership with Munich and the collaboration with Pentateuch specialist Eckart Otto were of great importance for Pentateuch study in particular, and for Old Testament scholarship in general in South Africa. Since 2001 regular annual international seminars were held to discuss many facets of Pentateuch research. The seminar was held in Munich (2004, 2007, 2013) and Vienna (2007). Many international Pentateuch specialists attended the seminars during these years. Book publications also emanated from these proceedings. More about ProPent can be read at http://www.hts.org.za/index.php/HTS/article/view/1277.
As part of the Department’s strong exegetical tradition the ProPsalms (‘Project for Psalms studies’) annual seminar was established in 2003 to internationalise and contextualise the study of various aspects of the Psalms. In view of several international cooperation relationships between the University and other international institutions this project has aimed to contribute to local and international theological (Psalm) debate; to develop discussions between Psalms studies and other disciplines of theology and religion; to involve the best international Psalms specialists in scholarly discussions; and to create understanding between various ways of theological thinking between Africa, Europe and the Americas. The seminar has also taken place in Munich (2004, 2007, 2013) and Vienna (2007), while several international books have been published as a result of these meetings.
In 2012 the ProProf seminar was established with the same aims as ProPent and ProPsalms, but with the focus on studying aspects of prophetic studies. Note: The ProPent and ProPsalms projects have involved members of almost all the other departments of the Faculty (New Testament Studies, Practical Theology, Dogmatics and Christian Ethics, Church History) in their academic seminars. This is an intentional effort to break down the ‘silo’-paradigm of focussing just on one discipline, but rather work inter- or trans-disciplinary.
International video conferences:
These annual conferences have been held the past seven years between the Universities of Pretoria and Essen-Duisburg, Dortmund and Bochum (Germany). This e-learning instrument stimulates undergraduate teaching and international contact between undergraduate students. It further serves as assessment measurement to evaluate the standard of undergraduate courses.
Postgraduate seminars, colloquia:
Postgraduate seminars and colloquia are arranged quarterly, when postgraduate students and research associates present their research projects.
Group for Contextual Hermeneutics:
Such a forum was officially established at the ProPsalms seminar in 2010. The forum serves as discussion group and academic incubator for African scholars who want to investigate the use, interpretation and application of Old Testament texts in various African contexts.
OTNET and OT departmental website:
This is a website with a regular newsletter (www.otnet.net) that was activated during August 2013. The aim is to relay Old Testament scholarship of the Department to an international world of scholars. In this manner international interest can be created in projects like ProPent, ProPsalms and ProProf. It aims to establish relations with other international universities, scholars and students. On a national level it aims to serve as a means to disseminate OT scholarship to colleagues, students and those interested in the Old Testament. To accomplish this, a quarterly newsletter is sent to readers globally to encourage them to visit the website.
Faculty Research Theme (FRT):
The Faculty is in the process of developing a FRT on Religion, Ethics and Society. Various aspects from three clusters (basics – Old and New Testament Studies, beliefs – Dogmatics and Church History, and practices – Practical Theology and Missiology) will build the indispensable elements that will contribute to this theme. Aspects include inter alia leadership (human capital), and the processes of ethical thinking and ethical decision-making in both the tertiary environment and society at large. Important themes are social justice, human dignity, reconciliation, moral formation and responsible citizenship. These themes direct towards a theme like 'Life in its fullness' with keywords such as oikodomē (‘household’) i.e. the well-being of the household, economy, ecology, theology, religion, life giving and impoverishment. Old Testament Studies together with New Testament Studies will contribute by contemplating the themes form an ancient perspective and Old Testament texts.
The website www.teo.co.za is a project of the Faculty of Theology. Short scholarly articles are published there and regular newsletters are sent to about 6 000 readers locally and abroad (including Dutch and Flemish speaking scholars). By means of this website and newsletters the Faculty aims to disseminate theological research to colleagues, students and those interested in theology. Although all disciplines of theology are reflected there, it just so happened that the overwhelming majority of articles covers Old Testament scholarship. There is for example a series on the history of Old Testament exegesis, theological themes from the Old Testament and ‘meditationes’ on certain Old Testament texts in order to illustrate the ‘practical nature’ of the Old Testament. From feedback it appears that Old Testament topics are being read and appreciated by many. This is to the benefit of the Department and is an instrument to help increase graduate and postgraduate students. It furthermore creates an awareness of Old Testament scholarship among the general public.