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The history of the LUMEN Centre

The establishment of the LUMEN centre is the result of several years of work devoted to gathering all Reformation-related research at Aarhus University under the same metaphorical roof. LUMEN now has participants from the fields of archaeology, philosophy, history, the history of ideas, art history, political science and theology.

The centre is led by Associate Professor Bo Kristian Holm and a steering committee consisting of Carsten Bach-Nielsen, Gorm Harste, Nina Javette Koefoed and Mette Svart Kristiansen.

Before the centre opened on 1 January 2017, LUMEN had already existed as a cross-faculty research network for 1½ years, thanks to a grant from Aarhus University’s strategic pool. In the summer of 2017 the centre also received funding from the strategic pool for the EPCOT network, which will be part of the centre for the next two years under the leadership of postdoc Jette Bendixen Rønkilde.

So far LUMEN has managed to obtain two grants for collective projects: 1) The DFF project called “Lutheranism and societal development in Denmark” under the leadership of Nina Javette Koefoed, and the AUFF-NOVA project called “An Economy of Reception? The Relation between Sacrament and Sociality in Lutheran Protestant Societies” under the leadership of Bo Kristian Holm.

The LUMEN network is a strategic expansion of a cross-disciplinary group of researchers affiliated with the Department of Theology. With the status of a research unit called “Reformation theology and confessional culture”, it was possible to combine the efforts of both senior and junior researchers from the fields of theology, history and the study of religion.

This made it possible to continue several years of work at the former Faculty of Theology focusing on the understanding of Lutheran theology in a broad academic perspective.

In 2006 Professor Peter Widmann and Bo Kristian Holm, who was an assistant professor at the time, collected a range of leading researchers for a seminar entitled “Word – Gift – Being”, which took place in September 2006 and whose results were published in the book Word – Gift – Being (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck 2009). This book has since become a standard work in understanding the role of gifts in Lutheran theology.

The organisers of the seminar also joined forces with Associate Professor Else Marie Wiberg Pedersen to take the initiative for the establishment of a research group dedicated to studying Reformation theology.

A total of ten colleagues from Aarhus University, the Faculty of Theology in Copenhagen and the Centre for Pastoral Education and Research in Løgumkloster were involved in a collective project entitled “Reformatorisk teologi: Reception og Transformation”, which received a grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research in 2007.

The project ended with an international conference called “Reformation Theology: Reception and Transformation” at Aarhus University in August 2009, organised by Bo Kristian Holm, Niels Henrik Gregersen, Else Marie Wiberg Pedersen and Peter Widmann. The results were published in the book Transformations in Luther’s Theology. Historical and Contemporary Reflection (Leipzig: EVA-Leipzig, 2011).

Per Ingesman (a professor of church history) had already been working for many years on connections and relationships between church, state and society in the Late Middle Ages and early modern times. The most recent result of this work is an anthology entitled Religion as an Agent of Change. Crusades – Reformation – Pietism. Per Ingesman helped to establish contact with Nina Javette Koefoed and Agnes Arnórsdóttir, historians working with the development of perceptions of marriage and households. In connection with the reorganisation of Aarhus University in 2011, these researchers helped to form the research unit “Reformatorisk teologi og konfessionskultur”.

From 2011 onwards this research unit started collaborating with Christine Helmer from Northwestern University to organise the conferences “Lutherrenaissance: Past and Present I”, held in Aarhus in 2011, and Lutherrenaissance Past and Present II”, held in Evanston in 2012. The results were published in the book Lutherrenaissance Past and Present (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2015).

The focus of the Lutheran Renaissance on the relationship between theology and sociality has been an important source of inspiration for the subsequent projects conducted by the LUMEN centre.

One of the first collective results of the work done by LUMEN can be found in the book Lutheran Theology and the Shaping of Society: The Danish Monarchy as Example, which is being published by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht in Göttingen.