Niels Gregersen, Wisdom Theology as an Axial Phenomenon: The Case of the Jesus Tradition


Niels GregersenNiels Gregersen

In the so-called Third Quest, Jesus scholars have argued that Jewish and Hellenistic wisdom traditions have served as a formative matrix for early Christology. In this lecture, Niels Gregersen supports and qualifies this trend, aiming to redescribe, from a phenomenological point of view, central aspects of the teachings of Jesus, both regarding his ethics and his relations to God as Father and as Spirit. It will be argued that Christology is not primarily about titles, labels, or epithets, but rather about Jesus embodying and releasing an attitudinal versatility and directionality in those that follow him. His followers will then have the task of putting the Jesus story into traditions that one can live in and by, and further develop under other inspirations, hereby always risking to betray the original impetus of Jesus as God’s Wisdom in person.


Niels Henrik Gregersen is Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Copenhagen. His work focuses on two research fields: (1) how to develop a constructive Christian theology in the context of secularized and multi-religious Western societies, and (2) how to bring about a mutual interaction between science and religion that also allows religious reflection to be an active player. Within systematic theology, he specializes in the theology of creation and Christology and within the field of science and religion, he specializes in the philosophy of evolutionary biology and the sciences of complexity. Gregersen has served as the leader of the Danish Science-Theology Forum (1992–2003) and as Vice-President of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology (ESSSAT), responsible for its publication program (1998–2002). He is a founding member and Trustee of the International Society for Science and Religion (ISSR). He was the Founder and Chairperson of Løgstrup Archives at Aarhus University (1993–2000), and chairperson for the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, France (2003–10). From 2008–2013 he was co-Director of the Centre for Naturalism & Christian Semantics. Recent publications include Reformation Theology for a Post-secular Age (with Trygve Wyller and Bengt Kristenson Uggla, 2017); Naturalism and Beyond: Religious Naturalism and Its Alternatives (with Mikael Stenmark, 2016); Den generøse ortodoksi: Konflikt og kontinuitet i kristendommen (2015, 2016); and Incarnation: On the Scope and Depth of Christology (2014).


University of Notre Dame (U.S.A.) in England
1-4 Suffolk Street
London, SW1Y 4HG

This event is part of the Human Distinctiveness: Wisdom's Deep Evolution conference. It is made possible by support from the John Templeton Foundation and Henkels Lecture Fund, Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, College of Arts and Letters, University of Notre Dame.