The students of the École Biblique had the opportunity to attend a doctoral seminar during the first semester with Professor Knut Backhaus.
The inter-semester and student holidays were an opportunity to ask him few questions, especially about his seminar “Recent trends in the Study of Acts”.
Can you present yourself ?
I am Knut Backhaus, a German theologian and currently (from September 2022 until February 2023) a guest professor at the EBAF in order to do research on the Acts of the Apostles (and teach a bit).
What do you do in Germany ?
Since 2003, I am Chair of New Testament Exegesis and Biblical Hermeneutics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich in Bavaria. From 1994 to 2003, I have been Ordinarius of New Testament at the Theological Faculty of Paderborn (in Westphalia). In my spare time I also serve as a pastor in a small parish.
Why did you came to Jerusalem and the EBAF ?
For an exegete, Jerusalem is always a magnet. The École biblique is an excellent place to study the Bible and the Holy Land (“the fifth gospel”). Since last year, the Faculty of Catholic Theology of the LMU Munich and the EBAF have concluded an “Agreement of Cooperation“ that also provides for an exchange at the level of professors and students. Thus, I am already part of a still short but already intensive tradition here. My special field of interest is the Book of Acts. I am writing a three-volume-commentary on it in the Evangelisch-Katholischer-Kommentar-series.
The first part deals with the apostles in Jerusalem. So it is, of course, a very special experience to write this part in this very city.
What do you teach? Why this subject ?
I teach Exegesis, because it is the “passion of understanding” texts, history, human beings, and sometimes perhaps even some sides of God. The New Testament is, as far as I can see, the closest possible observational post.
What will you keep in memory, after few months here ?
The EBAF turned out for me to be near to the Platonic ideal – the unity of scholarship, worship, and friendship. I will certainly not forget the “style of life” in a time-honoured library, full of literary treasures and sometimes interrupted by the calls of the muezzin.