Meet Dr Michaela Bauks and Wolfgang Hüllstrung, a German Protestant couple on sabbatical at Ébaf until Christmas.

She is a professor of Old Testament and the history of religions at the University of Koblenz.
He is a pastor of the Protestant Church in Germany, responsible for Jewish-Christian relations and continuing education in this field for pastors.

Michaela already spent a month’s sabbatical at Ébaf in 2019. Since then, she has been working on the research programme The Bible in Its Traditions.
Wolfgang is dedicating his sabbatical to a research project as part of Studium in Israel e.V., a German association that organises student stays on Judaism in Jerusalem. His project focuses on Israeli perceptions of Christians and Christianity.

As Wolfgang is involved in relations between the German Protestant Church and Christian institutions working in the Holy Land, he is particularly aware of the impact of the war. For him, since 7 October, events have reinforced the value of dual communication with his Israeli and Palestinian contacts.

For this semester, which she is devoting to writing an exegetical commentary on chapters one to eleven of Genesis, Michaela has once again chosen the Ébaf and its “excellent library”. She will be giving a lecture at the Jeudis de L’Ébaf on 14 December on The ‘fall’ of Cain, the inevitable evil in the primordial story.

Here, Michaela confides that she is impressed to meet in person the great references she discovered as a young researcher when she was professor of Old Testament at the Protestant Institute of Theology. She mentions Jean-Baptiste Humbert, Étienne Nodet, Émile Puech and Jean-Michel de Tarragon.

Most of the exegesis researcher’s days are spent in the library, but she also enjoys being “framed by Lauds, Vespers and community meals, as well as outings with the students”. Michaela and Wolfgang stayed despite the war because the École offered them a calm and supportive environment, as well as fervent prayer times.

As Protestants living in a Dominican convent, Michaela and Wolfgang are “keen to adapt without betraying themselves” (Michaela). “Here, a more interior gateway to Catholicism has opened up, with authentic and thoughtful believers.” (Wolfgang)

For Wolfgang, as for Michaela, the Ébaf’s strength lies in “its great project, to bring two worlds into harmony; excellent scientific research and Christian spirituality, in a plural environment with students, priests, recognised researchers, young and old monks…”.

From the library to the public lectures, from the long discussions in the refectory to the student film clubs, they wonderfully mingle with the life of the Ébaf, which will be an essential stop-off point on their next visits to the Holy Land.

Interview by Charlotte Desachy
Photo: Ébaf, Charlotte Desachy