Research Focus II:

The Monotheistic Triangle

The eventful history of the three monotheistic religions and their relations with each other has always been cause for inner- and interreligious scientific discourses conducted in step with the times and received and advanced in the course of history. Questions of religiosity and interculturality, of identity and dissociation, direct participation and indirect influence of Judaism do not only arise with modern science. In fact, due to the particularity of monotheism they have been present since antiquity, and have been discussed and answered through contemporary scientific methods in different ways.

Political claims for a dialogue of the religions represent a much formulated premise which is meant to guarantee the present and future cooperation of different social groups, societies and states in an increasingly globalized world. Numerous political and religious institutions have devoted themselves to the interreligious dialogue which is held as Jewish-Christian, Jewish-Islamic, and Christian-Islamic or even Jewish-Christian-Islamic dialogue between the three great monotheistic religions, and which at the same time touches on questions of cultural identity in various forms.

At the ZJS, the reciprocal relations of (inter-)religiosity and (trans-)culturality of the three religions will be explored in greater depth both historically and with regard to the present day, as well as theologically in an inter- and transdisciplinary perspective. In this context, the three great monotheistic religions are understood, in the broadest sense, as culture-shaping phenomena. The scientific interest therefore does not exclusively revolve around interactions and reciprocal effects of Judaism, Christianity and Islam as declared religious group formations but around the interaction of groups with Jewish, Christian and Islamic cultural identity. The religious factor is considered part of the cultural identity, which may be more or less pronounced at different times and in different territories. This requires theological approaches of the individual religions and of monotheism in general. As a result, criteria of comparability may be established which in turn are the basis of further analysis. It is precisely the development of criteria for comparative studies in the field of theology that will be a substantial asset in the interreligious dialogue.

From the Diaspora and the intense coexistence with Christians and Moslems arose an intense cultural exchange particularly for the Judaism, conveyed not least by the emergence of the Haskalah. It is this exchange and its varying implications that the Center aims to examine, and, among others, it is a key to the analysis of the transition of religion to culture.

The Berlin-Brandenburg region proves an ideal place for this thematic focus, historically and currently alike. While many Jewish scholars were initiators of the emerging Islamic Studies in the 19th century, the region today includes not only the largest Jewish community but also the majority of Muslim associations in Germany.