Wrestling with Life: Analytic Theology and Biblical Narratives

Academic Workshop

Principal Investigators


Godehard Brüntrup, Munich School of Philosophy

Moshe Halbertal, Hebrew University

David Shatz, Yeshiva University

Eleonore Stump, Saint Louis University

The workshop will take place at Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem from June 17 - June 21, 2019.


This workshop was made possible by the generous support of the Issachar Fund.

Summary of the Project

Among the most successful of many outstanding innovations in contemporary philosophy and theology is the analytic theology project. During the time that this project has been growing, there has been another notable change in philosophy, with some ripple effects also in theology, namely, an upsurge of interest in the social and second-personal. This emphasis has also brought to the fore the importance of narrative in philosophy and theology, because narrative is a means for transmitting the second-personal to others.

In this connection, it is important to recognize that every influential culture has a grounding in a foundational narrative, which shapes that culture and its understanding of life’s enduring questions. Such foundational narratives as these offer a worldview in a deep way that only narrative can do, and so they provide powerful resources for the exploration of the lasting problems and big questions of human existence.

For three great cultures, animated by the three Abrahamic religions, extending across countries and languages, lasting for many centuries, the foundational narratives are the sacred texts of the Koran and the Bible. These narratives have lasted for so many centuries because they offer deep insights into the nature of the human condition and the wisdom needed for human flourishing.

This workshop brings together outstanding philosophers and theologians to examine some of the narratives in Jewish and Christian sacred texts using the resources of analytic philosophy and theology. Their presentations at this workshop therefore constitute a pilot project designed to explore the benefits and advantages of using this methodology on these foundational cultural narratives.



Principal Investigators

Eleonore Stump

Eleonore Stump is the Robert J. Henle Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University. She is also Honorary Professor at Wuhan University and at the Logos Institute, St. Andrews, and a Professorial Fellow at Australian Catholic University. She has published extensively in philosophy of religion, contemporary metaphysics, and medieval philosophy. Her books include Aquinas (2003), Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering (2010), and Atonement (2018). She has given the Gifford Lectures at Aberdeen (2003), the Wilde lectures at Oxford (2006), the Stewart lectures at Princeton (2009), and the Stanton lectures at Cambridge (2018). She is past president of the Society of Christian Philosophers, the American Catholic Philosophical Association, and the American Philosophical Association, Central Division; and she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


"How Does the Bible Think about Free Will?"

David Shatz

Professor David Shatz is the Ronald P. Stanton University Professor of Philosophy, Ethics, and Religious Thought, editor of The Torah u-Madda Journal, and editor of the MeOtzar HoRav series, devoted to publishing manuscripts of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. After graduating as valedictorian of Yeshiva College, Professor Shatz was ordained at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and earned his PhD with distinction in general philosophy from Columbia University. He has edited, co-edited, or authored 16 books and over 90 articles and reviews on general and Jewish philosophy. His work in general philosophy focuses on the theory of knowledge, free will, ethics, and the philosophy of religion, while his work in Jewish philosophy focuses on Jewish ethics, Maimonides, Judaism and science, and twentieth century rabbinic figures. A collection of his essays, Jewish Thought in Dialogue, was published in 2009. Professor Shatz has been chosen numerous times as outstanding professor by the senior class at Stern, and was a winner in the John Templeton Foundation Course Competition in Science and Religion. He is a member of the editorial board of Tradition. In recognition of his achievements as a scholar and teacher, he was awarded the Presidential Medallion at Yeshiva University, the first member of the various university faculties to receive this highest honor. He was recently part of an international team of psychologists, philosophers, and religious thinkers in the project “Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life” at the University of Chicago, supported by a grant from The John Templeton Foundation. In addition, a book concerning his life and thought appears in The Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers, a series that the publisher, Brill, states ‘showcases outstanding Jewish thinkers who have made lasting contributions to constructive Jewish philosophy in the second half of the twentieth century.


"The Idea of the Sacred: The Ark narratives in the book of Samuel"

Moshe Halbertal

Moshe Halbertal received his PhD from Hebrew University in 1989, and from 1988 to 1992 he was a fellow at the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. Halbertal served as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, University of Pennsylvania Law School, and Yale Law School, and he currently is professor of Jewish thought and philosophy at Hebrew University. He is the author of many books, including Idolatry (co-authored with Avishai Margalit, 1992) and People of the Book: Canon, Meaning, and Authority (1997), both published by Harvard University Press; Concealment and Revelation: Esotericism in Jewish Tradition and Its Philosophical Implications (2007), On Sacrifice (2012), and Maimonides: Life and Thought (2013), all published by Princeton University Press; and several books published in Hebrew, including Interpretative Revolutions in the Making (1997) and By Way of Truth: Nahmanides and the Creation of Tradition (2000). His latest book (co-authored with Stephen Holmes) The Beginning of Politics: Power in the Biblical Book of Samuel was published by Princeton University Press in 2017. Halbertal was the recipient of the Michael Bruno Memorial Award of the Rothschild Foundation and the Goldstein-Goren Book Award for the best book in Jewish thought in the years 1997 to 2000. In 2010, Halbertal was named a member of Israel’s Academy for the Sciences and the Humanities.


"Job's Final Insight: Knowledge by Acquaintance or Second-Personal Knowledge?"

Godehard Brüntrup

Godehard Brüntrup SJ is a German philosopher and Jesuit and since 2003 professor of philosophy at the Munich School of Philosophy with a focus on metaphysics, philosophy of mind and language philosophy.

After joining the Jesuit Order, Brüntrup studied philosophy at the University of Philosophy and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München from 1979 and graduated in 1984 with a Master of Arts degree. His academic teachers included Wolfgang Stegmüller and Lorenz Bruno Puntel. After completing his studies in philosophy, he studied Catholic theology at the Philosophical-Theological University of St. Georgen in Frankfurt am Main and the University of Innsbruck, where he graduated in 1989 as a graduate theologian.

In 1990 he began working on his doctoral dissertation under his doctoral supervisor Peter Bieri, after which he received his doctorate in 1993 at the FU Berlin. In 2003 he joined the College of Philosophy and was appointed professor there. Beginning in 1984, Brüntrup taught and researched at various US universities, including Rutgers University, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Arizona. In 2002, he refused a call to full professor of Fordham University, but since then taught there several times as a visiting professor.

Since January 2012, Brüntrup holds the Erich Lejeune Endowed Chair of Philosophy and Motivation - in this role he is particularly concerned with questions of philosophical psychology, the metaphysics of mental causation, the theory of free will and the theory of action. For the winter semester 2013/14 Brüntrup took a reputation as James Collins Visiting Professor in Philosophy of Saint Louis University. Since then he regularly spends August / September as Extracurricular Professor at St. Louis University.




Participating Scholars

Dawn Chow

"Taking Jonah Seriously: On Piety, Comedy, and the Will of God."

James Diamond

"Divine 'Regret' as God’s Withdrawal: Banishing God into the Distance"

Katherine Dormandy

"The Epistemology of Faith and Faithfulness"

Lenn Goodman

"I am that I am - How the Torah Weds Narrative to Ontology in the Theophany at the Burning Bush"

Johannes Grössl

“Jesus’ Prayer and Final Temptation in Gethsemane”

Dru Johnson

"By This You All Shall Know: Epistemic Justification in Joshua and Judges"

Charlotte Katzoff

"Temptation in the Garden of Eden"

Emmanuel Nathan

"After Words: Encounters with the Risen Master in an Ethical Key"

Dermot Nestor

“Knowing Me, Knowing You: Agency, Materiality and the Divine Will”

Andrew Pinsent

"The Divided Brain and the Spiritual Sense of Scripture"

Shira Weiss

"Justice and Vigilantism in the Hebrew Bible"




Visiting Scholars

James McLaren

James Redfield

Michael Rota

Christof Wolf

Judith Wolfe