PhD Courses in Denmark

Political Theology: Reflections on a Contested Concept

Faculty of Theology at University of Copenhagen

“Political theology” has become one of the most widely used concepts within theology, law, political science and philosophy. Despite its overwhelming success, however, it remains highly contested. One could rightly ask whether “political theology” is best understood as a systematic discipline in its own right or as an interpretative category of political events and doctrines that only became pertinent at a certain point in history. In this seminar, we shall pursue the latter option. In fact, “political theology” seems to correspond to a way of envisaging the processes of history in terms of the intricate exchange between the political and the theological domain. To this view, theology continues to exert a profound influence on our political practices though more often than not without our knowledge.

In this seminar we shall attempt to critically engage with such a conception of “political theology”. This engagement is premised on a two-fold objective: 1) to study paradigmatic figures within a history often construed along the lines of “political theology”; 2) to clarify the possible methodological problems involved in such a historical construction. Participants are thus invited to reflect upon the basic presuppositions of something like a “political theology”, its conditions of possibility and its historical rootedness. Interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged.

The seminar is organized as a Ph.D.-course and doctoral students from all faculties are welcome.

Teaching methods: a combination of lectures, readings, paper presentations by PhD-students and panel discussions.

ECTS: 2 ECTS-points are given to each presenting participant, while 0,5 ECTS are given for participation without presentation. If you wish to present a paper at the seminar, please send a short abstract of no more than 500 words to Esben K. Rasmussen ( no later than August 12, 2020.

Proposed topics, but not limited to: Early Christianity (Eusebius, Saint Augustin), protestant theology (Calvin, Luther, Kierkegaard), the history of political thought (Marsilius of Padua, Hobbes, Hegel), 20th century thought (Schmitt, Benjamin, Blumenberg), the history of legal thought (von Savigny, Stahl).

Registration: Please register via the link in the box no later than 12 August 2020. Registration is closed. However, there are still a few places available at the course. If you are interested in a place, please write an e-mail to the PhD Administration (


9.00-9.15: Welcome and introduction

9.15-10.00: Lecture: Associate Professor, Florian Wöller, Faculty of Theology (UCPH): “Two Cities in History? Constructing Augustine’s Political Theology with De ciuitate Dei”.

10.00-10.15: Coffee break

10.15-11.45: Ph.d. Paper Session
10.15-10.45: Emil Bjørn Hilton Saggau, University of Copenhagen: Revisiting “The Antinomies of Christian History: Empire and Desert”
10.45-11.15: Søren Frank Jensen, University of Copenhagen: King David in Post-Reformation Biblical Interpretation
11.15-11.45: Vivien Giet, Université de Namur: Messianism and Ecology: A Benjaminian Perspective

11.45-12.45: Lunch Break

12.45-13.30: Lecture: Professor, Agata Bielek-Robson, University of Nottingham: “The Apocalyptic within Political Theology Today (Jacques Derrida)”.

13.30-13.45: Coffee break

13.45-14.30: Lecture: Associate Professor, Amnon Lev, Faculty of Law (UCPH): “Of God and Monarchs: Friedrich Julius Stahl and the Problem of Political Theology”.

14.30-14.45: Coffee break

14.45-15.45: Ph.d. Paper Session
14.45-15.15: Jonathan Harmat, Copenhagen Business School: Prophetic Politics: The Role of Affect in Political Theology
15.15-15.45: Esben Korsgaard Rasmussen, University of Copenhagen: Idolatry, Power and Sacred History in Hobbes’s Leviathan

15.45-16.30: Discussion and Concluding remarks

Further information: For more information about the PhD course, please contact one of the course organisers or the Ph.D. Administration (

Course organisers:

Esben Korsgaard Rasmussen

Ph.d.-stipendiat / Doctoral research student


University of Copenhagen

Faculty of Theology

Section for Systematic Theology

Karen Blixens Plads 16

2300 København S


DIR + 45 35 32 52 55

Carsten Pallesen

Lektor / Associate Professor and Head of the Ph.D.School


University of Copenhagen

Faculty of Theology

Section for Systematic Theology

Karen Blixens Plads 16

2300 København S


DIR + 45 35 32 36 80

MOB + 45 23839921