The Art of Listening to the Past: Reflections on Theological History Writing


  • Jayne Svenungsson Lunds universitet


This essay ponders the ethos and premises of history writing with particular regard to the discipline of Systematic Theology. Taking inspiration from Hans Ruin’s recent phenomenological study Being with the Dead, the first part reflects on the otherness of historical subjects. More specifically, it raises the question of how we, as modern scholars, relate to and represent historical thinkers and their ideas in a truthful way, that is, without either mystifying them or appropriating them for specific theological aims. The second part of the essay is concerned with our own subjectivity and how it is affected by our “being with the dead”, including our dead intellectual peers. Focus is here placed on the moral responsibility that is attached to history writing, especially in a time when efforts are continuously being made to exploit memories of a common Christian past for various ideological purposes.