Aktuelle forskningsprosjekter

Pågånede forskningsprosjekter

Kontaktpersoner ved MF:

Prorektor Kjetil Fretheim
E: kjetil.fretheim@mf.no

Ph.d.-koordinator Nils Aksel Røsæg
​E: nils.a.rosag@mf.no

Sentralbord: 22 59 05 00

Aktuelle forskningsprosjekter

1) I menyen til venstre finner du eksempler på noen av de pågående forskingsprosjektene ved MF som involverer flere ansatte og som har ekstern finansiering.

2) I tillegg til disse er alle vitenskapelig ansatte og post-doc'er involvert i og har flere pågående forskningsprosjekter, også på individuell basis.

3) Her finner du pågående doktorgradsprosjekter (ph.d.).  


Cooperation on Religious Studies in Myanmar - CORSIM

Students and staff in Myanmar january 2018
In Myanmar: 
Students and staff in Myanmar january 2018. Photo: Rebekka Opsal

Cooperation on Religious Studies in Myanmar - CORSIM

Academic co-operation project between MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society (MF) and Myanmar Institute of Theology (MIT)

The academic co-operation project between MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society (MF) and Myanmar Institute of Theology (MIT) offers a unique possibility for students and full-time researchers at both institutions for academic exchange and co-operation.The program focuses on the academic study of religion, peace and conflict, with a particular focus on peacebuilding, gender studies, interreligious dialogue and the role of religious actors in promoting peace and democratization. 

The project offers intensive courses for MIT students at MF in Norway in the study of religion, peace and conflict and intensive courses for MF students at MIT in Myanmar in the study of religion, ethnicity and conflict in Myanmar. The project also offers MA students at MIT the possibility of doing one year of their master’s degree in Norway and offers PhD stipends to students from Myanmar to do their PhD at MF.

Also, an important part of the project is to foster academic co-operation between MIT and MF staff and to develop joint research projects in religious studies and theology.

This initiative is funded by The Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU) and its NORPART program (Norwegian Partnership Programme for Global Academic Cooperation).

Project calendar 2019:

- Intensive course in Myanmar for MF students (January)
- Intensive course in Norway for MiT-students (August) 
- Field studies in Myanmar for MF students (Spring/Autumn)
- Academic exchange for MIT students, Masters level (from the autumn 2019)
- Academic exchange for MIT students, PhD level (from the autumn 2019

Intensive courses in Norway were organized august 2017 and Myanmar january 2018.

For more information about the upcoming intensive courses in Myanmar, see SAM2152 and SAM5152

For more information on past intensive courses in Norway, see SAM5131

Project partners:

MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society (MF)
Myanmar Institute of Theology (MIT)

The project management group:

Project leader: Prof. Kjetil Fretheim
Project coordinator: Karoline Oftedal
Academic advisor:  Associate Professor Dr. Iselin Frydenlund.

Contact Iselin Frydenlund for more information or academic questions.
Contact Karoline Oftedal for announcements of scholarships and/or funding, and other practical question about the project.

Tracing the Jerusalem Code


Tracing the Jerusalem Code

Tracing the Jerusalem Code: Christian Cultures in Scandinavia. NFR-funded research project, 2015-2018


Reconstruction of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. From a map of Judea and Gallilee for classroom use in Norway (C. Monsens skolekart), 1937


Project Manager
Kristin B. Aavitsland
Mail: Kristin.B.Aavitsland@mf.no


Throughout the entirety of Christian history, the idea of Jerusalem, earthly and celestial, has been formative to the Christian Church and European culture. The interpretations of this idea, however, are unstable. In this project, our aim is to tell the story of Christian cultures in Scandinavia, through the lens of the changing idea of Jerusalem. By entering formative periods and asking how the idea of Jerusalem functioned, and was transformed in the historical and local expressions of Christianity, we pursue a twofold target. We seek to shed new light on the establishment and transformation of historical religious cultures in the Scandinavian countries. Furthermore, we want to develop new theoretical perspectives on the history of Christianity and on identity constructions and legitimization strategies in diverse religious and political traditions.

The idea of Jerusalem can be studied through literature, religious practices, material artifacts, and visual culture. The changing interpretation of Jerusalem is expressed in theological and literary texts, religious practices, material artifacts, architecture and visual culture. By interdisciplinary and diachronic investigation, we will trace a vast variety of Jerusalem representations and interpretations, and investigate the diverse ways in which the idea of Jerusalem, and its significations, have been in use and have been transformed in different historical contexts.

The special relevance of the project lies in the constant challenge of conflicting religious and historical identities, also in modern society. By tracing the role of Jerusalem in the Christian cultures of Scandinavia, we aim to develop historical understanding as an important resource, both in a national and international context.

About the project

About the project

As emphasized by a wide range of scholars, the quest for Jerusalem, earthly and celestial, has had a formative impact on the entire history of Christianity.

As the site of the Jewish temple and the scene of Christ’s redemptive death and resurrection, Jerusalem’s significance far exceeded its value as a lieu de mémoire. The city was construed as the axis mundi, the locus of divine presence on earth and a signpost to the goal of history. In numerous ways, and in conflict with Jewish and Muslim traditions, Christendom has claimed to be the legitimate heir to, and interpreter of, Jerusalem. Because this thought has been so pervasive, Jerusalem could be designated as a code to the Christian culture that shaped the Western world. Traces of the ‘Jerusalem code’ are still seen today, in material culture, religious traditions and secular politics.

Recently, there has been an increasing interest in Jerusalem interpretations on the international scholarly scene. Our special competence and unique contribution lie in the Scandinavian material, which scarcely has been explored in this perspective. Through this project, we intend to fill a gap in current international scholarship. Furthermore, we aim at a new contextualization of Scandinavian religious history.

The project develops one main idea; but is subdivided according to three formative periods:

Main hypotheses
The subprojects explore three hypotheses:

1) The multivalent interpretation of Jerusalem constitutes a code to Scandinavian Christian culture. Tracing this code and its changing application through different historical periods provides a new perspective on Scandinavian religious history.

2) Throughout Scandinavian history, the identification with Israel, God’s chosen people, has legitimated physical and spiritual claims of holy history and topography (Jerusalem). These claims have generated a continuous denunciation of ‘others’ (i.e., Jews, Muslims, Catholics and political and religious dissidents) whose claims are considered illegitimate.

3) The specific Christian concept of Jerusalem has a transformed afterlife in secular Scandinavia, in political discourse and engagements in international politics of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Horizon and relevance: How the past became the present
The investigation of the last hypothesis (3) is meant to offer a horizon of understanding that can frame contemporary challenges in society, more than provide precise conclusions. In the last two centuries, the history of Jerusalem, particularly as a religious narrative connected to national narratives, has incited people to renew an emotional and political involvement in Jerusalem and the Middle East (Shamir 2003). The project’s special relevance is that it deals with the historical roots of the constant challenges in our modern society regarding conflicting religious and historical identities. By tracing the role of Jerusalem in the Christian cultures of Scandinavia, we aim to develop historical understanding as an important resource, both in a national and international context.

Theoretical perspectives

Theoretical perspectives

JERUSALEM AS CODE: We apply the analytical term ‘code’, borrowed from semiotics, to grasp the structuring power, the pervasiveness and the complexity of the Jerusalem idea (Lotman & Eco 1990). 

In the Middle Ages, this idea was systematically codified in the epistemological model of the quadriga, the fourfold interpretation of Scripture (Lubac 1959/61/64). To medieval theologians, this functioned as a holistic and dynamic model of understanding. Within this model, Jerusalem was the paradigm (John Cassian (Cassian 1985)): On the historical level, Jerusalem denoted the physical city of the Jews, the place where Solomon erected his temple and Christ was crucified. This denotation, however, also contained other layers of meaning. Allegorically, Jerusalem signified the Christian Church, eschatologically it pointed to the heavenly city for which mankind is bound, and morally it represented the individual Christian soul. The quadriga thus facilitated an understanding that combined past, present, and future, time and eternity, the singular and the universal, the human and the divine into one single rhetorical figure – and onto one single spot. The idea of a multivalent Jerusalem came to permeate the medieval perception of reality. It implied a reinterpretation of the Jewish tradition from which it sprang, aiming to supersede and overwrite it. The hermeneutics of the quadriga thus legitimized the Christians’ claim to be the true heirs of Jerusalem and the new chosen people. This naturally had wide-ranging consequences for religious practices, historiography, artistic culture, architecture, and territorial politics.

In the early modern period ((i.e. ca 1500-1750/1800), the medieval symbolic interpretation of the perceptible world was questioned, and in Protestant tradition there was no such thing as a holy place. Hence the multi-significant model of Jerusalem was negotiated in new ways. Still, it lived on in literary, religious and political discourses, and has continued to do so to this day. As a rhetorical trope, Jerusalem has proved to possess a remarkable transformative power and an ability to adapt to political, religious, and existential experiences under different historical circumstances.

Concepts and Methodological perspectives
By ‘Jerusalem’ in ‘Jerusalem code’, we refer to the city in Palestine as well as its diverse significances (cf. Quadriga). To trace the Jerusalem code therefore entails investigating the diverse ways in which the application of Jerusalem and its significations have been in use and transformed in different contexts.

Due to the physical site of Jerusalem being expressed through visual, architectural, and literary rhetoric, research on the Jerusalem code necessitates an interdisciplinary approach. The studies draw on theories and methodologies from cultural history, the history of religion, the history of literature, art and architectural history, and intellectual history. We also want to emphasize a diachronic method. Several of the topics listed under the subprojects are suitable cases for diachronic investigation (specified by genres). For example, a diachronic study of the transmission of the Passion story in Scandinavian devotional literature from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century will, according to preliminary research, clarify how spiritual applications of Jerusalem were adapted to shifting historical and political contexts. Another case suitable for diachronic study is the visual representation of earthly Jerusalem, for instance through art, architecture, and maps.

Subproject 1

Subproject 1

Jerusalem in Medieval Scandinavia (ca 1000-1500)

The objective of this subproject is to map the Jerusalem code in medieval Scandinavian material and literary cultures. We aim to investigate the role of Jerusalem in the shaping of new religious and political identities in Scandinavia during the process of conversion, the introduction of literacy, and the establishment of an ecclesiastical structure (1000-1200). Furthermore, we want to study how the quadriga model was activated within the literary, visual and architectural references to Jerusalem, all of which were used to integrate politics with spirituality in Scandinavian medieval cultures.

Integration in the Christian oikumene. It is significant that the integration of Scandinavia into Latin Christendom (9th-12th cen.) mainly took place during the Crusader period, a time in which the Western claim to the earthly Jerusalem shaped European politics and religious practices. For Scandinavians, who were latecomers to Christianity, the Christian identity became one of warfare and expansion. Consequently, the figure of the saintly king, the war against infidels, and the idea of the fundamental otherness of non-Christians came to play leading ideological roles (Aavitsland 2015).

The conversion of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden was in fact double: not only was new faith gradually introduced, but these northern kingdoms were also transformed into literate societies. Literacy helped the Scandinavians identify with the Judeo-Christian past and with the Biblical landscape, securing for themselves a role in the history of Salvation and a place in the realm of Christendom. Their inclusion in the Christian oikumene comprised a double strategy. First, creating a Christian horizon involved adopting and remembering the vast amount of inherited texts, rituals, images and ideas transmitted through the media of written and painted codices, architectural forms, and liturgical practices. Second, the Scandinavians had to struggle to become part of this heritage. They were to reinterpret their own past within the narrative of salvation history. In this production of a new cultural and religious landscape of the North, Jerusalem proved a particularly potent topos, providing a forceful means for shaping a new religious and political identity. It was a centre to which the periphery, the finis terrae, could be connected. This claim is supported by preliminary research on a group of knight friezes in Danish medieval parish churches (12th-13th cen.); they testify to the ‘Crusader identity’ of the Scandinavian aristocracy in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries (Aavitsland 2014).

Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373). A powerful application of the Jerusalem code is found in the writings of the visionary mystic and European politician Bridget of Sweden. We want to investigate how the interpretation of Jerusalem fundamentally informed her works: as the physical goal of her pilgrimage, as an allegory and metaphor leading to moral teaching, as a vision of the eternal Kingdom of God (the New Jerusalem), and as a key to her theories of church architecture. Within this structure, we want to focus on Bridget´s political theology and her wide-ranging plan of reforms involving the church and society. During the last decades, her life and writings have attracted increasing scholarly interest (Sahlin 2001; Berglund 2003; Zochowska 2010; Falkeid 2014). With this project, we aim at a new contextualization of her theology and work.

Subproject 2

Subproject 2

Jerusalem in the Lutheran kingdoms of Denmark-Norway and Sweden (ca 1500-1700).

In the second subproject, we aim to investigate how the Jerusalem code was transformed during the Protestant Reformation and the process of confessionalization. The early modern Protestant legitimations of God’s chosen people were based on a paradigm of justification by faith, and no longer on physical translations of holiness or authority. Nevertheless, visual sources, poetry, hymns, historiography and other writings of Danish and Swedish theologians closely connected to the political regimes, testify to the pervasiveness of the multivalent employment of Jerusalem in order to legitimate secular and religious authorities. Moreover, these sources reveal a strategy of social discipline that contributed to the construction of a Lutheran identity.

The destruction of Jerusalem. We will engage in an international comparative discussion on the transmission, interpretation, and political application of the parabiblical tradition of Jerusalem’s destruction (70 AD) as told by Josephus (Groves, forthcoming). The medieval transmission of Josephus had legitimated the rejection of the Jews in Christian salvation history (Utterback & Price 2013), and it continued to do so in early modernity. A version of Josephus was translated into Danish in 1539 (Tidemand 1539) and frequently reprinted during the following centuries. The city of Jerusalem, as well as the Jews and the Romans, the actors in the classical Josephus transmission, here gained new interpretations that addressed the political and social context in the kingdoms of Denmark-Norway and Sweden.

The true Israelites. We aim to employ religio-political rituals, funeral sermons, and devotional and historiographical literature in order to explore how the Jerusalem code and the model of Israel shaped the confessionalization process. Although legitimized by ‘true faith’, the people of the protestant kingdoms, conceived of as the chosen people of God, were addressed with a religious and political language similar to that with which the Jews of the Old Testament had been addressed (Ekedahl 1999). The kings ruled the elect and modelled their rule on Old Testament ideal kings, and they prescribed collective penitential rituals that were based on patterns from the Old Testament. A central question, therefore, is how to understand this identification with the Jewish people: was it a rhetorical parallel to the past, or should it be understood as a succession based on a translation of identity (Goetz 1958; Assmann 1999; Oftestad 2010)?

Antichrist and anti-Jerusalem. We will also investigate how Jerusalem and Rome were set up as opposites, and how the idea of Jerusalem was transmitted in the Scandinavian and Baltic region – from late medieval times, through the period of Humanism, and to the Reformation and the age of confessionalization. The notions of Jerusalem, the chosen people, and proto-national thinking had already been combined in historiography before the Reformation. The German humanist and historiographer Albert Krantz (1448-1517) argued that the Nordic kingdoms were superior to others by referring to the moral weakness of the Roman Empire and the supremacy of the Goths as the true Israelites. Through the Reformation, the negative aspects of Jerusalem that were known from the biblical prophets’ moral criticism were perpetuated in the humanistic view of history and phrased as a religious criticism of the pope. Thus the prophetic speech of the Bible was no longer applied to the decadence of Jerusalem, but to the decadence of Rome. The true followers of God were no longer understood as a particular nation, as in Albert Krantz works, but as those who adhered to the Lutheran ‘vera doctrina’ (e.g., David Chytraeus´ chronicles (Bollbuck 2006)). Rome became the anti-Jerusalem, a negative code or allegory.

The quest for Jerusalem. In a diachronic perspective, we intend to investigate how religious actors treated Jerusalem as their explicit goal: the Christian knight, the cross bearer, the crusader, and the pilgrim all appear in early modern Scandinavian devotional literature. As medieval religious roles, they were all transformed according to the new paradigm of faith. And in line with, but also transforming medieval tradition, the geographical itineraries are supplemented by literature on the interior pilgrimage. One example of this is the Danish ‘guide to the Holy Sepulchre and the new Jerusalem’, printed in Copenhagen in 1616. In this text, the Holy Sepulchre is interpreted as one’s own grave, and Jerusalem as the afterlife (Dalby 1616).

Subproject 3

A sign in a Jerusalem street named after Selma Lagerlöf. Photo: zeevveez, Jerusalem, Israel.

Subproject 3

Jerusalem in the Eyes of Scandinavian Revivalists and Travellers (ca 1800-1920).

The many interpretations of Jerusalem continued in Scandinavian Christian culture throughout the nineteenth century. This can especially be seen in the hymns and devotional literature of the revivalist movements. During this century, those who claimed Jerusalem and the Holy Land to be their spiritual heritage were able to encounter the real and physical Jerusalem through new means, such as the missionary movement, biblical archaeology, increased tourism, travel narratives, and orientalism. The multifaceted connection to Jerusalem was negotiated anew. The rich material provides several perspectives of research:

Jerusalem as a political and religious allegory. First, we will investigate how, through the devotional literature, spiritual ownership of Jerusalem and the Holy Land were claimed. Here the influential nineteenth-century Norwegian preacher and social reformer Hans N. Hauge (1771-1824) is of special interest. In his writings, he used the model of Jerusalem to describe and motivate his flock, to set them up as distinct from, and in opposition to the religious and political establishment. Because Jerusalem is destroyed, he says, Jesus is not to be found in the temple. He is in the heart, and where the two or three are gathered in his name (Hauge 1800). The paradigm of true faith is decisive to this quest for Jerusalem and shapes its political potential; the goal is defined as a celestial Jerusalem, a place where the unclean, that is, ‘the other’, is not allowed. Another preacher with a characteristic application of the Jerusalem code is the revivalist of the Sami people, Lars Levi Læstadius (1800-1861). Studies on Læstadius’ sermons will provide perspectives on the Christian disciplining of the minority cultures of the North.

The reestablishment of the Holy City and the conversion of the Jews. The classical Christian interpretation of Jerusalem and the Jews built on the historical destruction of Jerusalem and the new role of the Christian church in the history of salvation. A clear break with this interpretation was argued for by the German Pietists (Spener in 1675), who opposed the rejection of the Jews and saw it as necessary that the Jews convert in order to fulfil biblical prophesies. This argumentation was in line with radical reformed political theologians who awaited the apocalyptical millennium (Rengstorf & Kortzfleisch, II, 1988) and who inspired a European movement which resulted in the nineteenth-century mission work among the Jews. The group called ‘Israel friends’ was established as early as 1844 amongst the Herrnhuts in Stavanger (Sweden: 1875, Denmark: 1881) (Skarsaune 1994). The movement was, and still is, highly informed by pre-modern models with religious as well as political impact. The Jewish mission became closely linked to the formation of Norwegian Christian identity. A remarkable missionary movement emanated from Norway, and its work amongst heathens was described as indirectly missionizing the Jews, whose expected conversion presupposed the conversion of the heathens (Dahle, 1893). The teacher at the Faculty of Theology in Oslo, Carl Paul Caspari (1814-1892), was a converted German Jew, international orientalist, and one of the most important representatives of Lutheran orthodoxy as well as of the Jewish mission in Scandinavia. The eagerness for converting the Jews was an expression of more than Christian love of one’s neighbor, and it reintroduced interest in the earthly Jerusalem based on pre-modern conceptions of history.

Jerusalem between utopia and experienced reality. Connected to the phenomenon of revivalism, we aim to investigate how the Jerusalem code motivated similar religious movements in Scandinavia and beyond. For example, a quest for a celestial Jerusalem  characterized the utopian communities of America that were populated by Scandinavian  settlers in the early nineteenth century, examples being Eric Jansson’s sect at Bishop Hill, Illinois (1846-60) (Wejryd 2002) and the Swedish involvement in the Mormons’ ‘New Zion’, Utah. The Swedish migration to Anna and Horatio Spafford’s American Colony in Jerusalem (1895/97), as depicted in Selma Lagerlöf’s novel Jerusalem, represents a special category of utopian movements since it combined the quest for a celestial Jerusalem with a specific earthly settlement in the Holy Land. Hence, in the current project, it constitutes a bridge to another engagement with Jerusalem characteristic of the nineteenth century, namely that of the cosmopolitan traveller providing first-hand descriptions of the Holy Land (e.g., Frederika Bremer in Livet i gamla varlden: Palestina (1860-62) or Sven Hedin in Till Jerusalem(1917)). It is our contention that through a juxtaposition of utopian visions of Jerusalem and firsthand descriptions of the holy city, we will be able to shed light on the different aspects of the Jerusalem code in nineteenth-century Scandinavian cultures ranging from America in the West to Jerusalem in the East.



Project core group (Oslo)

Prof. Kristin B. Aavitsland, project manager 
Kristin B. Aavitsland is professor in medieval culture and church history, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society. Trained as an art historian and specialized in Mediterranean and Scandinavian medieval art and religious culture, she has coordinated several research projects on medieval and early modern topics. She conducts the first subproject, ‘Jerusalem in medieval Scandinavia’, and ensures the diachronic and interdisciplinary perspective of the project as a whole . 

Dr. Eivor Andersen Oftestad, project researcher
Eivor Andersen Oftestad is a church historian and full-time RCN researcher at the project. Her previous research (University of Oslo) includes i.a. Jerusalem translations and the impact of the first crusade in Western Europe, as well as studies on the confessional culture of early modern Denmark-Norway. In 2014, she was employed by MF to develop the research project together with Kristin B. Aavitsland. Oftestad is responsible for the second subproject 'Jerusalem in the Lutheran Kingdoms of Denmark-Norway and Sweden'. She also conducts the project’s current seminars and the popular dissemination of the project.

Dr. Joar Haga, postdoctoral research fellow
Joar Haga is a theologian, trained in church history. He holds the position as post-doctoral fellow in the project. His PhD "Was there a Lutheran Metaphysics?" traced some aspects of the Lutheran doctrine of Christology from Luther to the early 17th Century. Other research areas include 19th Century doctrine of sin and interpretation of evil and the relationship between the (modern) state and the church. Haga’s main contribution to the project concerns the interpretation of "the new Jerusalem" in the book of Revelation in early 18th Century Denmark and its influence on politics, institutions, and architecture.

PhD. stud. Line M. Bonde, research fellow
Line M. Bonde is the project’s research fellow, enrolled on the doctoral program in church history/theology, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society. She holds a MA in Art History from University of Copenhagen. Her dissertation project belongs under subproject 1. The overall scope of her research is to investigate how conceptions of Jerusalem were materialized in the Scandinavian church interiors from the 12th and 13th centuries. Furthermore, she explores how these representations of the Holy City can be understood as an expression of a mind-set peculiar to the Scandinavians in the Middle Ages.

Ass. Prof. Ragnhild J. Zorgati 
Ragnhild J. Zorgati is associate professor in the history of religions at the University of Oslo. Her research explores different aspects of cultural encounters between Christian and Islamic civilizations. She is currently working on the theme of women as religious and political actors in Scandinavia and North-Africa in the late nineteenth century. Zorgati is responsible for the gender perspective of the overall project and conducts the third subproject, 'Jerusalem in the eyes of Scandinavian revivalists and travellers (ca 1800-1920)'. She contributes with studies on travel narratives.

Prof. Arne Bugge Amundsen
Arne Bugge Amundsen is professor in cultural studies and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, University of Oslo. Since 1981 he has conducted, coordinated and participated in several national and international projects, producing comprehensive research on the cultural history of northern Europe from 1500-1900, with special emphasis on popular religiosity, religious landscapes, Pietism and the Enlightenment and religious revivals. As national coordinator for NORVECK (Research on Nordic Revivalism), he carries the responsibility for the investigation on revivalism and the religious utopian movements in the third subproject.  

Prof. Otfried Czaika
Otfried Czaika is professor in Reformation history at MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society. In his previous positions as head of the Research Department and head of the Manuscript Department at the National Library of Sweden, he has conducted several larger projects and extensive studies on cultural contacts between central Europe, the Baltic area and Scandinavia. Together with Eivor Andersen Oftestad, he is responsible for the second subproject.

Prof. Victor Plahte Tschudi 
Victor Plahte Tschudi is professor of architectural history and theory, AHO, Oslo School of Architecture and Design, and head of the advanced research center Oslo Center for Critical Architectural Studies (OCCAS). His special focus is on Jerusalem and its temple as powerful models and arguments of genealogy in Western architectural history and theory, not least during the Catholic Reformation in the 16th and 17th centuries. His contributions to the project provide an important theoretical and comparative perspective on the interpretations of Jerusalem in Scandinavian early modern cultures.

International advisory board

Prof. Bianca Kühnel, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Through the last 30 years, Kühnel has been a leading international scholar on representations of heavenly and earthly Jerusalem in Christian and Jewish art, as well as on monumental translations of the Holy Land in medieval and early modern Europe. As the leader of the international project Projections of Jerusalem in Europe: A Monumental Network (2010-2015), she represents a most valuable context for the new Scandinavian contributions to this research field.

Prof. Mary Carruthers, New York University. The theoretical approach of the project is inspired by Carruthers’ expansive scholarship on medieval rhetoric and the translation of culture, which she has developed out from her innovative work The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric and the Making of Images. 400-1200 (1998). Carruthers has also been involved in Kühnel’s project, Projections of Jerusalem in Europe.

Prof. Brad Gregory, Notre Dame University, Indiana, is an expert on Christianity in the Reformation era, a theme which he approaches comparatively and cross-confessionally. With his intellectually brave and thought-provoking publications – Salvation at Stake (1999) and The Unintended Reformation (2011) – Gregory has set the agenda of scholarly debates and contributed to formulating new questions and perspectives on how to study the past and the historiography of Christianity.

Prof. Mette Birkedal Bruun, University of Copenhagen, is leader of the ERC-founded project Solitudes: Withdrawal and Engagement, which investigates how early modern believers understood their being in the world and the ways in which this understanding comes to expression in texts, images, architecture, music and artefacts. Bruun represents a network of relevant Danish and international researchers and has been involved in the development of the Jerusalem code project.

Prof. Mats Malm, University of Gothenburg, is an expert in comparative literature and member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities.

Prof.Dominique Iogna-Prat, a director of research at the French National Research Centre (CNRS), has provided new comprehensions of Christian history through his monumental and influential books on medieval church history (1998; 2006).

Prof. John Tolan, Université de Nantes, leader of the ERC project RELMIN: Le statut legal des minorités religieuses dans l’espace Euro-Méditerranéen 500-1500. Tolan has specialized in the history of religious and cultural relations between the Arab and Latin worlds in the Middle Ages.

Affiliated researchers

Greg Reichberg, Peace Research Institute, Oslo 
Damien Kemp, University of Liverpool 
Kurt Villads Jensen, Stockholm University
Vidar L. Haanes, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society
Maria Husabø Oen, Stockholm University/ University of Oslo  
Anna Bohlin, Stockholm University​
Sivert Angel, University of Oslo​
Martin Wangsgaard Jürgensen, National Museum of Denmark​
Øystein Ekroll, NDR restorations, Trondheim



Visual Constructs of Jerusalem

Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages (CELAMA 18)

B. Kühnel, G. Noga-Banai, H. Vorholt (eds.), Brepols 2014

ISBN: 978-2-503-55104-3

A comprehensive volume on European translations of Jerusalem in images, objects, places, and spaces  - all visual and material aids to commemoration and worship from afar - comprises papers by three of the researchers in the project Tracing the Jerusalem Code

KRISTIN B. AAVITSLAND: Defending Jerusalem: Visualizations of a Christian Identity in Medieval Scandinavia

EIVOR ANDERSEN OFTESTAD: Beyond the Veil: Roman Constructs of the New Temple in the Twelfth Century

VICTOR PLAHTE TSCHUDI: Heavenly Jerusalem in Baroque Architectural Theory





DECEMBER 4-6, 2018:

International conference: Gateway to Heaven? The Jerusalem Code in Scandinavia, ca 1000-1948

Venue: MF Norwegian School of Theology / National Library, Oslo
Program and registration



April 24-26, 2017:

International conference: Jerusalem in Medieval Scandinavia: Kings, Crusaders, and Monastic Orders.
Co-arranged with University College of Southeast Norway.
Venue: Tønsberg Conference program

The ruins of St Olav’s Church of the Premonstratensian monastery in Tønsberg, late 12th century

March 6-8, 2017:

The International Saladin Days 2017. This year the organizers of this annual event, hosted by Litteraturhuset in Oslo, have choosen Jerusalem as their theme, and invited Simon Sebag Montefiore as key note speaker. Our project Tracing the Jerusalem Code will be represented by Ragnhild J. Zorgati and Eivor Andersen Oftestad. 


Spring 2017: 

Current seminar


October 28 and November 1-4, 2016: 

Jerusalem: Travel, City, Self. Project workshop in Oslo and Jerusalem
Workshop participants at the Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem. From left to right: Anthony Bale, Line M. Bonde, Joar Haga, Eivor A. Oftestad, Anna Bohlin, Erling Sandmo, Kristin B. Aavitsland, Ragnhild J. Zorgati, Stefka Georgieva Eriksen.

Fall 2016: 

Current seminar 

April 27-29, 2016:

Strategies of Legitimation, Models of Authority: Jerusalem in Political Discourse 1100-1800. Project workshop in Rome

Workshop participants below the Arch of Titus at the Forum Romanum. From left to right: Therese Sjøvoll, Nils Ekdahl, Daniel Johanson, Lukas Raupp, Ragnhild J. Zorgati, Otfried Czaika, Line M. Bonde, Eivor A. Oftestad, Sivert Angel, Kristin B. Aavitsland, Bjørn Bandlien, Joar Haga. ​

April 2016:

Public lectures: Jerusalem in Norwegian Contemporary Literature

From the public event at Litteraturhuset, Oslo, April 1, 2016: Author Edvard Hoem and Senior Researcher Eivor A. Oftestad.

Spring 2016:

Current seminar

December 9-11, 2015

International conference: Tracing the Jerusalem Code: The Significance of Jerusalem in Western Christianity.
Venue: MF Norwegian School of Theology, Oslo

From the conference: Discussion after Prof. Erling Sandmo’s paper, chaired by Prof. Kristin B: Aavitsland

Fall 2015:

Current seminar 

Project launch September 11, 2015

at MF Oslo School of Theology,
1015 AM.  


Strategic partnership for representatives of religious communities - STRAPAC

Strategic partnership for representatives of religious communities - STRAPAC

The STRAPAC cooperation was officially launched at MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, Oslo, on the 19th of November 2018. The project is supported by the European Union under the Erasmus+ programme for education, training, youth and sport.

MF joins its partners in Italy (Gal del Ducato), Greece (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki), Romania (University of Craiova) and Bulgaria (Foundation for Regional Development) in promoting competence on issues of multiculturality as well as intercultural, interreligious and ecumenical dialogue and cooperation. The main goal of the STRAPAC cooperation is to share both theoretical and practical competence on ways to address social exclusion in the contexts in which the five partners operate.

The contribution of MF in the current STRAPAC cooperation, is supported by the experience MF has gathered through participation and leadership of previous multi-lateral projects such as “CULTA – Religion and Multiculturality. Education Pathways for Local Church Leaders” (2012-2014), supported by the European Union under the Grundtvig programme for long-term adult education. MF contributed to the CULTA project, and will continue to contribute to the STRAPAC project with high quality research on issues related to migration and integration.

Daniela Lucia Rapisarda, postdoctoral fellow at MF, will coordinate, together with Karoline Oftedal, International adviser, the participation of MF in the STRAPAC cooperation. MF will be the host of the closing STRAPAC conference to be held in Oslo in February 2020.

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About the project

STRAPAC offers blended mobilities and innovative training tools tailored to service staff/religious professionals from poor regions/rural areas, and members of the partners' organizations.  The propose actions offers entrepreneurship and leadership education, but also peer learning from each other experiences through showing and exchanging of good practices for development of local communities and fighting social inclusion. It aims to help them to develop transversal and entrepreneurship skills to fight social exclusion and to work effectively with diversified and vulnerable groups at local level by suggesting innovative training tools and methods for enhancing competences.

STRAPAC target groups involves people with different religious traditions, belonging to the Orthodox Church, or Roman Catholic Church, Lutheran or the Pentecostal churches, Muslim congregations and any other congregations who might be willing to participate. This is how the project helps achievement of multicultural skills and competences to hold effective multicultural and inter-religious dialogue and to work more efficiently with diversified groups of people. 

Project objectives

1 To help service staff/religious professionals belonging to religious communities located in poor regions and rural areas to develop basic competences and transversal skills, such as entrepreneurship, communication, and leadership skills, which will help them to tackle social exclusion more effectively and to improve their work with vulnerable groups of people such as disabled people, refugees, migrants, Roma people and other marginalized communities;

2 To help representatives of religious communities from regions at grass root level and rural areas to enhance their multicultural skills to better cope with people with different cultural, ethnic or religious background and to increase their ability to hold inter-religious dialogue;

3 To enhance the digital integration of learning through development of innovative on-line training tools to support reducing disparities in learning outcomes affecting learners from disadvantaged backgrounds.

4 To create a strategic partnership network of representatives of communities with different religious and confessional background and to strengthen the cooperation between the participating organizations through exchanging of experience and good practices, which will help them to increase their capacity to develop new approaches for skill development.

Expected results:

The expected intangible results during and after the project completion are:

1) Increased entrepreneurship, project management and communication skills to at least 70 direct project beneficiaries from poor regions/rural areas (such as entrepreneurship, communication, and leadership skills) to help them to fight social exclusion more effectively and to at least 10 representatives of the partners organizations to work more efficiently with vulnerable groups of people at local level through organization of blended mobilities and multiplier event and by applying new training methods, elaborated as a result of the project

2) Increased access to education and training to at least 1000 indirect target groups representatives by providing open access to the created innovative learning tools  -  film with training purposes, on-line learning platform, consisting of text and video materials also translated in sign language, and training guideline for representatives of religious communities

3) Increased multicultural skills to better conduct inter-religious dialogue of at least 10 representatives of the partners organizations and to at least 70 representatives of religious communities, directly involved in the project, to cope better with people with different cultural, ethnic or religious background

4) Provided open access to innovative training tools, which will assist for the reduction of disparities in learning outcomes affecting learners from disadvantaged backgrounds

5) Created strategic partnership network of representatives of communities with different religious and confessional background and strengthened cooperation between the participating organizations through exchanging of experience and good practices

6) Increased capacity of the partners to develop new approaches for skill development.

7) Promoted social entrepreneurship through extensive media campaign

Project activities:

Intermediate Transnational Meetings will take place between:
27-28 August 2018 – it will be organized by the Greek partner in Thessaloniki
10-13 March 2019 – organized by the Italian partner in Parma.

International Training courses will take place as it follows:
10-16 June 2018 - organized by the Italian partner in Parma
2-8 June 2019 - organized by the Greek partner in Thessaloniki
6-12 November 2019 - organized by the Romanian partner in Craiova
4-10 November 2018 - organized by the Bulgarian partner in Sofia

Final conference:
Autumn 2019, organized by the Norwegian partner in Oslo.

Project management:

Main project group, Romania:
Project leader, Prof Calina Gelu

Project group in Norway:

Project leader/coordinator: Karoline Oftedal
Academic responsible: Prof Gunnar Heiene og Mr Inge Westly

Coordinating partner: 
The Center for dialogue between sciences and theology-University of Craiova

Fondatsiya za regionalno razvitie (FRR)
The Aristotle University of Thessaloníki
MF Norwegian School of Theology
Gal del Ducato

Project webpage: https://strapac.eu/




Med DORA (San Fransisco Declaration on Research Assessment) stiller man seg bak prinsippet om at søkernes faglige kvalifikasjoner og kvaliteten til oppnådde resultater skal vurderes på et bredere grunnlag enn hvor forskerne publiserer. Det er kvaliteten på forskningen og et bredt sett av resultater og virkninger fra forskningen som skal ligge til grunn.

DORA (fra 2012) trekkes fram som viktig i de nasjonale retningslinjene for åpen tilgang som ble lansert av Kunnskapsdepartementet i fjor. Prinsippene i DORA vil kunne fremme publisering med åpen tilgang fordi få Open Access tidsskrifter har høy Journal Impact Factor. Ved å se bort fra publiseringskanalenes status, vil det være enklere for forskere å publisere i kanaler som ikke scorer høyt på Journal Impact Factor. På denne måten støtter DORA opp under Forskningsrådets mål om å stimulere til åpen publisering, 

Omvendt klasserom


Atle Ottesen Søvik
professor i systematisk teologi

Omvendt klasserom

Dette prosjektet prøver ut en omvendt klasseromsundervisning der studentene forbereder seg før hver samling ved å se på tre videoer om dagens tema. For hver video svarer de på spørsmål om hva videoen handlet om, hvorfor temaet er relevant, hvordan det er best for dem å lære og huske dette innholdet, og hvordan videoen kunne blitt bedre.

Gjennom dette må studentene både reflektere over hva de lærer og hvordan de lærer det, samtidig som læreren får tilbakemelding om hva studentene har lært og hvordan videoene kan bli enda bedre. Hensikten er at studentene skal jobbe jevnt med stoffet gjennom semesteret, og komme forberedt til hver time, slik at tiden kan brukes til aktiv diskusjon av stoffet.