NOSTER Sponsors International Conference on Medieval Theologies of Death

NOSTER has awarded €1,500 to the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology and the Theological University Utrecht (formerly Kampen) for organizing an international conference on β€œThe End: Finiteness, Death, and Completion in Medieval Theology.” The conference is scheduled for 26-28 June 2024 in Utrecht and is open to all members of NOSTER.

Christian theology usually considers the end of life in this world from the perspective of the life after this life, the life that goes on forever. From the viewpoint of medieval faith and morality, the final phase of earthly life remains only a transitional one. Nevertheless, at some definitive point, earthly lives really approach their end. After the typical phases of maturation, crisis, renewal, and ageing, people find themselves – cases of sudden death excepted – in a period of letting go, of near-death, of a real completion of earthly existence. Whereas the realization of one’s own finiteness has usually been interiorized to a greater or lesser degree from an early age (rites of passage, memento mori, dance of death, etc.), the prospect of the future life suddenly drawing near can bring with it intensified feelings of hope and fear. These are given specific translations according to religion, gender, and ethnicity. The confusing confrontation with the painful process of transitioning from the old to the new life calls for prayer, perseverance, and trust in God. Likewise, in (organized) communities, situations of insecurity, confrontations with great loss, times of danger and adversity, or the ending of an established way of life may confront the members with the shocking realities of finiteness. Here, as in the context of the individual soul, conceptions of heaven and hell, and /or β€œthe end of days” may be heavily reinforced as (un)certainties of survival and/or salvation come to the fore. When, why and how is the subject of this conference.

The organisers will bring together Catholic and Protestant theologians who will address the central questions from historical, sociological, psychological and theological perspectives. Confirmed speakers are Jan Klok (Theological University Utrecht), Daniela MΓΌller (Radboud University), Krijn Pansters (Tilburg University) and Karim Schelkens (Tilburg University), among others. Their aim is to explore the relevance of medieval theologies of death for modern-day concerns. These concerns are not only about (individual) human mortality but also about the death or disappearance of (religious) communities and organisations.

The conference will be organized in cooperation with the Franciscan Institute in New York and has been adopted by the International Society for the Study of Medieval Theology (IGTM) as its annual conference.

As the conference is sponsored by NOSTER, all junior and senior members of NOSTER can participate in the conference free of charge. NOSTER invites its members to check the call for papers and consider submitting a paper proposal (deadline 20 December).