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Texts, doctrines and traditions


In order to understand and practice their faith believers combine in various ways the texts, doctrines and traditions of the relevant community. While being a fundamental feature of the individual experience of believing and belonging, texts, doctrines and traditions define the collective dimension of religion and the negotiation of truth and identity within and between communities. In this research line we investigate ancient, modern and contemporary sources of faith communities and the correlated doctrines and traditions. We also work on influential unofficial texts and doctrines from individual or collective authors and pay special attention to normative codes and religious laws. The focus on religion and innovation in our mission makes us particularly sensitive to change in and through texts, doctrines and traditions. We understand developments in this area as strictly calling for the role of human agency according to the vision expressed in his 2014 Report on «Violence committed in the name of religion» by UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt: «Although most religions claim a transcendent — and in this sense 'trans-human' — origin, religious sources and normative codes of conduct always accommodate different readings that are actively undertaken by human beings. Thus, human agency is inevitably involved in interpreting religious traditions, dogmas, laws or identities. (…) Whatever the ultimate origins of a religious belief are thought to be, human beings bear in any case responsibility for the practical consequences that they draw from the interpretation of their faith.»

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