Strand Definitions: Theology and Bible Studies

Theology, either as a systematic discipline, or as a discursive reflection on sacred texts, was seen as the queen of medieval learning, both in the monastic context and in the medieval universities. The bulk of medieval intellectual and learned literature was produced either in the field of medieval theology or biblical commentary. Furthermore, the Bible was arguably the most influential book in the Christian Middle Ages. It deeply influenced spiritual and intellectual life, popular devotion, historiography and theology, political structures, art and architecture.

While the study of medieval theology (often centring around famous theologians such as Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and others) has a venerable pedigree, recent scholarship has also seen new appreciation for alternative sources of theological insight, such as mystical texts, the role women played in medieval theology (often making use of ‘unofficial' channels outside the male-dominated world of medieval schools and universities), the role the Bible played in medieval society, and the role of biblical scholarship in medieval intellectual life. Medieval sermons, for instance, have been approached as a window into medieval culture, while biblical commentaries and mystical texts have been interpreted as a source for medieval anthropology, literary theory, and intellectual discourse, in addition to scholastic quaestiones and theological summae. In addition, scholars have started to pay more attention to cross-cultural and inter-religious issues in medieval theological literature and biblical commentary.

This strand includes studies in the Christian theological tradition, including systematic theology; development of Christian doctrine; ecclesiology; as well as Jewish, Christian, and Islamic inter-religious dialogue; mysticism, spiritual and meditative literature; and biblical studies, broadly conceived to include the transmission, reception, and interpretation of biblical texts; biblical exegesis, glosses, and commentary.