Zeit und Ewigkeit: Die Frage der Zeit in Kirche, Naturwissenschaft und Theologie

Translated title of the contribution: Time and Eternity: The Concept of Time in Church, Natural Science, and Theology

Antje Jackelén

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The aim of this dissertation is to explore the possibilities of an adequate understanding of time by discussing concepts of time (and eternity) as they appear in church texts, theological thinking, and natural science from the Newtonian era to modern physics. Relationality, dynamics, multiplicity, and narrativity are suggested as indispensable dimensions of such an understanding.

Inspired by P. Ricoeur´s thesis that time should be conceived of as narrated time, Chapter One offers an analysis of what German, Swedish and Australian hymns, considered as theological narration, say about time and eternity. Significant shifts throughout history are noted, especially concerning the concept of future and eternity, the latter tending more and more to be integrated into time.

Chapter Two deals with time in biblical and theological thought. It is shown that in biblical thinking time is inseparable from its content. Moreover, two common forms of opposition, that between cyclical and linear time, and that between God and time, are criticized. The theological analysis focuses on three distinctions of time and eternity: a quantitative (e.g. O. Cullmann), an ontological (e.g. Augustine), and an eschatological (e.g. I. U. Dalferth). Though not unproblematic, the eschatological distinction is the most promising. Time has to be understood in terms of relation.

Chapter Three starts by analyzing Newton´s concept of absolute time in comparison to the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence. The impact of Newton´s concept of God on science is considered. In connection to the theories of relativity and quantum physics the autonomy of time and the significance of language are discussed. Cosmology, thermodynamics and chaos theory are dealt with from the point of view of time.

Drawing upon the results of the previous chapters, Chapter Four explores the possibilities of a dynamic and relational understanding of time. Various trinitarian approaches are examined. These prove helpful in elaborating the that of relationality, but not the how. An appropriate understanding of time is most adequately pursued in eschatological terms.
Translated title of the contributionTime and Eternity: The Concept of Time in Church, Natural Science, and Theology
Original languageGerman
Awarding Institution
  • Centre for Theology and Religious Studies
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date1999 Apr 19
ISBN (Print)91-628-3488-6
Publication statusPublished - 1999

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 1999-04-19
Time: 14:00
Place: Carolinasalen, Kungshuset, Lundagård

External reviewer(s)

Name: Bühler, Pierre
Title: Prof.
Affiliation: Zürich, Switzerland


The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Systematic Theology (015017071)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • History of Religions


  • General
  • cosmology
  • narrative
  • church hymns
  • Bible
  • relationality
  • trinity
  • God
  • physics
  • theology and natural science
  • time
  • eschatology
  • eternity
  • systematic and practical Christian theology
  • Kristen teologi (allmän
  • systematisk och praktisk)


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