Posted by: gcarkner | November 28, 2012

Rising Academic Star in Humanities

Jens Zimmermann

Canada Research Chair in
Interpretation, Religion and Culture, TWU

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2013 UBC Graduate & Faculty Christian Forum Visiting Scholar []

A Common Humanity: The One True Path?

Newest Publications: Humanism & Religion: a call for the renewal of Western culture. Oxford University Press, 2012; and Incarnational Humanism: a philosophy of culture for the church in the world. IVP Academic, 2012

The philosophical climate of our times is encouraging a return to religion as the ethical and spiritual foundation of human culture. And the return of religion is coinciding with an emerging interest in the idea of a common humanity.

This renewed public recognition of religion as an essential part of our humanity and socio-political activity promises a new direction and purpose for the humanities. It also, however, poses problems because, along with religion, comes the spectre of fundamentalism and religiously motivated violence. How can we reconcile religion’s universal claims on human existence with the need for harmonious co-existence?

Canada Research Chair Jens Zimmermann is tackling this question in his research by examining the philosophical, theological and cultural assumptions that are shaping recent “re-articulations” of Christianity within a global multi-faith and religious context. In the process, he is providing us with a better understanding of the conflicting tendencies in Western society: On the one hand, there is a resurgence of religion that is defining our humanity, spirituality and social ethic. And, on the other hand, there is a fear of religious fundamentalism and its destructive, dehumanizing tendencies.

Zimmermann’s multidisciplinary study cuts across the disciplines of philosophy, theology and cultural theory. Besides his academic research at Trinity Western University, Zimmermann is also developing links with scholars in Germany, France, the United States and elsewhere in Canada, who will participate in a series of colloquia, which he is planning as part of his work as the Canada Research Chair in Interpretation, Religion and Culture.


PhD. Philosophy, 2010

Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz, Germany

  • Topic:  Humanism and Religion: A Philosophical Analysis
  • Description: Zimmermann employs the concept of humanism to analyze the development of humanistic philosophies and educational ideals in Western culture from the Greco-Roman ideal of paideia to its Christian and secular transformations. The argument concludes with a proposed hermeneutical humanism capable of engaging a number of current issues concerning religion and culture. Main thinkers and concepts discussed:  patristic humanism, medieval humanism, Renaissance humanism, modernism, deconstruction, hermeneutics, theology and ethics; Vico, Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger, Gadamer, Polanyi, Ricoeur, Levinas, Charles Taylorl John Macmurray.

Ph.D. Comparative Literature (German, English, French), 1997
University of British Columbia

  • Dissertation: “English Puritans and German Pietists: A Re-Examination of Pre-Critical Hermeneutics in Light of the Anthropocentric Turn in Hermeneutics”
  • Supervisor: Dr. Dennis Danielson, Department of English, University of British Colombia

MA Comparative Literature (German, English, French), 1993
University of British Columbia

  • Major Fields: Iconoclasm, Seventeenth Century tests of the continental Reformation and English Puritanism
  • Minor Fields: German Literature of the Middle Ages; Renaissance and Baroque Literature

BA English Literature and Language, 1992
University of British Columbia

  • Major Fields: Milton; early American literature; Victorian novel
  • Minor Fields: German language and literature

Upcoming UBC GFCF Visit February 27, 2013


Through a Glass Darkly: Suffering, the Sacred, and the Sublime in Literature and Theory.
Co-edited with Holly Faith Nelson and Lynn R. Szabo. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2010.

Politics and the Religious Imagination .
Co-edited with John Dyck and Paul Rowe. London: Routledge, 2010.

Being Human, Becoming Human: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Social Thought. 
Co-edited with Brian Gregor. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2010.

Bonhoeffer and Continental Thought: Cruciform Philosophy.
Co-edited with Brian Gregor. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2009.

Refereed Monographs

Theologische Hermeneutik (Theological Hermeneutics) . Freiburg: Herder, 2008.

The Passionate Intellect: Incarnational Humanism and Contemporary University Education .
Co-authored with Norman Klassen. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic Press, 2006.

Refereed Articles

Book Chapters

“Catechizing the Secular Imagination: A Response to Simon Critchley.” 
Politics and the Religious Imagination, edited by John Dyck, Paul Rowe, and Jens Zimmermann. London: Routledge, 2010. 42-56.

“Hermeneutics of Unbelief: Philosophical Readings of Paul.” 
Paul, Philosophy, and the Theopolitical Vision: Critical Engagements with Agamben, Badiou, Žižek and Others. Edited by Douglas Harink. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2010. 227-53.

“Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christian Humanism in Philosophical and Theological Context.” Dietrich Bonhoeffers Theologie heute: Ein Weg zwischen Fundamentalismus und Säkularismus? / Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Theology Today: A Way between Fundamentalism and Secularism? Edited by John W. de Gruchy, Stephen Plant, and Christiane Tietz. Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlag, 2009. 369-86.

“Recovering Incarnational Humanism.” Tradition and Formation: Claiming An Inheritance. Essays in Honour of Peter C. Erb. Edited by Michel Desjardins and Harold Remus. Kitchener: Pandora Press, 2008. 361-79.

“Beyond Fundamentalism and Postmodernism: Bonhoeffer’s Theology and the Crisis of Western Culture. ” Religion, Religionlessness and Contemporary Western Culture: Explorations in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Theology. International Bonhoeffer Interpretations Vol. 1. Edited by Stephen Plant and Ralf K. Wüstenberg. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2008. 15-31.

“Gott in der Universität: Religion als neues Forschungsobjekt der Literaturtheorie?” Derrida und danach? Literaturtheoretische Diskurse der Gegenwart. Edited by Gregor Thuswaldner. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2008. 165-80.

“Suffering with the World: The Continuing Relevance of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Theology.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer Jahrbuch 3:2007/2008. Edited by Christiane Tietz et al. Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2008. 311-38.

Also appears in Crux 42, no. 3, (2006): 22-36.

“Simon Critchley: The Ethics of Deconstruction, or Metaphysics in the Dark.” Co-authored with Norman Klassen. The Strategic Smorgasbord of Postmodernity: Literature and the Christian Critic. Edited by Deborah C. Bowen. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007. 122-34.

“Menschwerden durch Bildung: Die Inkarnation als Schlüssel zu Bonhoeffers weltoffenem Christentum —Eine Replik.” (“The Incarnation as Key to Bonhoeffer’s World-Receptive Christianity.”) Dietrich Bonhoeffer lesen im internationalen Kontext: Von Südafrika bis Südostasien (Reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer in International Context: From South Africa to South Asia). Edited by Ralf Wüstenberg. Frankfurt am Maim: Peter Lang, 2007. 153-70.

“Denken mit Nietzsche und Heidegger,” Introduction to Heidegger-Jahrbuch. Vol. 2, Heidegger und Nietzsche. Edited by Alfred Denker et al. Freiburg: Alber Verlag, 2005.

“The Inhumanity of Being: Subjectivity in Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Levinas.” Heidegger-Jahrbuch.Vol.2, Heidegger und Nietzsche. Edited by Alfred Denker et al. Freiburg: Alber Verlag, 2005.

Journal Articles

“Weak Thought or Weak Theology? A Theological Critique of Gianni Vattimo’s Incarnational Ontology.”JBSP: Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 40, no. 3 (2009) 312-29.

“The Passionate Intellect: Christian Humanism and University Education.” Direction 37, no. 1 (Spring 2008): 19-37.

“The Ethics of Philosophical Hermeneutics and the Challenge of Religious Transcendence.” Philosophy Today 51, Supplement (2007): 50-59.

Quo Vadis?: Literary Theory beyond Postmodernism.” Christianity and Literature 53, no. 4 (2004): 495-519. (Lionel Basney Award).

“Radical Orthodoxy: A Reformed Appraisal.” Canadian Evangelical Review, no. 26-27 (Spring 2004): 65-90.

Ignoramus: Gadamer’s ‘Religious Turn.’” Symposium: Journal of the Canadian Society for Hermeneutics and Postmodern Thought 6, no. 2 (2002): 203-17.

“Confusion of Horizons: Gadamer and the Christian Logos.” Journal of Beliefs and Values 22, no. 1 (2001): 88-98.

“Meaning, Hermeneutics, and Ethics: Post-postmodern Subjectivity.” In The Positive Psychology of Meaning & Spirituality: Selected Papers from Meaning Conferences, edited by Paul T. P. Wong, Lilian C. J. Wong, Marvin J. McDonald and Derrick W. Klaassen, 57-70. Abbotsford, BC: INPM Press, 2007. Originally presented at the Meaning Conference, Richmond, BC, June 2000.


Trinity Western University

Trinity Western University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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