Why study Biblical Exegesis in Nijmegen?

How is meaning attributed to biblical texts? By following Radboud University’s Master’s specialisation in Biblical Exegesis you will acquire the analytical instruments with which to give an appropriate meaning to religious texts. Core concepts in Bible texts are explored in connection with their cultural and historical context.


Master’s specialisation in Biblical Exegesis

The Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts that are analysed in this Master’s specialisation found their origin in cultures of the ancient Near East and the ancient Eastern Mediterranean. These cultures differ greatly from our present day cultures. It is, therefore, a challenging task to understand the meanings of these texts in their contexts of origin and their original conceptual frameworks, to acknowledge their textual composition and aims, as well as their intended social and religious functions. It requires linguistic, literary, cultural, social, ethical, historical, and hermeneutical research. That is why the development and application of research methods plays such an important role in biblical exegesis.


How is meaning is attributed?

In the Master’s specialisation in Biblical Exegesis, students learn how to apply the instruments of textual explanation at an advanced level. Both diachronic analysis (text criticism, historical linguistics) and synchronic analysis (literary criticism) are taught and applied. The central question students engage with is how meaning is attributed in a text. Students will therefore become well equipped to discern the crucial decision points in attributing meaning.


Cultural and ethical context

Both the Old as the New Testament form the focus of this specialisation. Both texts will be analysed in their original language, which is why it is essential that students have at least a basic proficiency in both Hebrew and Greek. Due to the nature of the two texts, the texts each demand a slightly different approach. When discussing the Old Testament more emphasis will be given to cultural context. This is because – the text being of Jewish origin – the notions are often further removed from a student’s own views making contextualisation even more important. The relation between both Biblical texts and ethics is also investigated, although more so with the New Testament. How do the texts in the New Testament aim at changing the behaviour of their readers?

“Biblical Exegesis can be a ‘dangerous’ field of study. Students are taught to thoroughly and critically examine the Old Testament and the New Testament. Students will not only discover how things came to be but will undoubtedly also come to realise that things could have been very different. For some students the realisation that some traditions are not as self-evident as they seem can be quite shocking.”
—Prof. dr. Ellen van Wolde, Professor Exegesis Old Testament at Radboud University

Goal is to try and discover the values and views that lie within such texts and to compare them with the general contemporary views, one’s own views and the views of others. The tension between universal truth claims within belief systems and the diverse cultural contexts in which they are expressed is the central focus of this Master’s specialisation. Students will discover that in some instances there is a discrepancy between the context of the source texts and religious views that dominate today. How this came to be is the subject of church historians and students interested in this are encouraged to follow the Church History seminars as part of their Master’s programme.

  • This master programme was recently awarded the quality label ‘Top Programme' and rated best in their field.
  • Our students rate this Master’s programme 9,2 out of 10 according to the National Student Survey 2021
  • This master’s specialisation offers a beautiful mix of literary criticism and theological reflection.
  • Biblical Exegesis at Radboud University offers a unique combination of cognitive linguistics with literary criticism, making it distinct from other similar programs.
  • Study the Old and New Testaments by analysing their languages, cultural frameworks, historical contexts, and their relationship.
  • This study programme is ranked top 100 worldwide in its field.
  • This programme offers a global perspective, not just a European one.
  • Students may select from a wide range of electives, meaning they may customise their studies to suit their professional and academic interests. Each specialisation also integrates a diverse course load with classes ranging from Systematic Theology to History of the Church and Theology.
  • The third year focuses on professional training. Students can choose research (English), education (Dutch), religion and policy (Dutch) or spiritual care (Dutch).
  • Classes are stimulating and collegial. Small class size means ample opportunity for questions and discussion. Students can do more than listen, they can contribute meaningfully to the discussion.
  • Radboud University and its Theology department may be Roman Catholic in origin, but its master programme in Theology is open to all students. It enjoys a culturally robust and religiously diverse student body.

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