Nienke van Andel: Discourses in Liturgy

Liturgy, more especially church music, is a hotly debated topic. Obvious examples are the discussions and disagreements, which recently arose, concerning the new Dutch Protestant hymn-book. What is going on? What controversies in liturgy do these twists unmask? Why did this criticism arise? Whose interests are at stake?

These questions have incited the research. A case-study on the development of the new hymn-book in the Netherlands, will be the basis to find out what discourses in the field of liturgy revolve around. Where do they come from, what are their contents and how do they relate to each other? What can we state about the changes that have or have not occurred in this area over the past decades?

The research is executed between January 2009 and Summer 2014. Nienke succesfully defended her thesis 10 September 2015 at PThU Amsterdam. 

Promotor and co-promotor: Marcel Barnard and Martin Hoondert (TIlburg University)

Title of the dissertation (based on peer reviewed articles): Composing a canon.


Daniel Osei Bediako-Akoto: Towards Holistic Sexual Flourishing in Sexuality from a Ghanaian Christian Standpoint with the Presbyterian Church of Ghana as a Case

The aim of the research is to formulate and substantiate a theological view on human sexuality that contributes to human sexual flourishing especially in the context of Ghana. The study seeks to elaborate how traditional theological views that exist within the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG) limit sexual flourishing in three different ways of silence over sexuality, gender disparities, and playing down legitimate pleasuring of the sexual-self. It is to redeem not only human sexuality but also theology of sexuality from such limiting perspectives, that the research, crafted within the context of systematic theology, seeks to answer the question: How does the notion of redeemed sexuality problematize and re-evaluate existing paradigms of and opinions on sexuality in the Presbyterian Church of Ghana in Ghana and in the Netherlands?

The research concludes that there continues to exist many impediments to holistic human sexual flourishing particularly in the PCG and in the Ghanaian society on the whole. The Christian interpretation of sexuality that was imported by the missionaries has been relatively more responsible for limiting sexual flourishing than the traditional African society has. Given the existing reluctance to discuss sexuality in the PCG, church members struggle to find an appropriate forum where sexuality can be freely discussed and talked about. Consequently, there is little opportunity to develop a new vocabulary to express ideas about sexuality and to promote a healthy discourse on the subject in the church.  It is against this background that the research calls for a sexuality paradigm shift to free sexuality from the unhelpful restrictions and to pave the way for the promotion of legitimate pleasuring of the sexual-self.

Rev. Bediako succesfully defended his thesis,Towards Holistic Sexual Flourishing in Africa. Another Look at Human Sexuality from a Ghanaian Christian Standpoint with the Presbyterian Church of Ghana as a Case (Utrecht: Boekencentrum, 2017) on 21 MArch 2017.

Promotores: Mechteld Jansen, Marcel Barnard.


Stefan Belderbos: Van kunstwerk tot religieus ritueel

Een onderzoek naar de integratie van performancekunst in de liturgie

Stefan Belderbos

The research was executed as a PhD-study at the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts of Leiden University. Supervisors were Frans de Ruiter (University Leiden), Hans Alma (University of Humanistics) and Marcel Barnard .

The project combines artistic achievement and theoretical reflection. Art performances were integrated in liturgical services. As an artist Stefan´s work consists mainly of installations and performances, and focuses on topics as faith and rituals in transition and liminality. Main questions in this research was: can performance art, integrated in an ecumenical liturgy, cause a religious experience on the participants?

This research was completed in 2010 and resulted in a book (in Dutch) and an exhibition. Part of the dissertation is a practical guideline designed for church communities as well as artists, on how to integrate performance art in the liturgy.


Title of the dissertation:

- Stefan Belderbos: Van kunstwerk tot religieus ritueel. Een onderzoek naar de integratievan performancekunst in de liturgie, Veenendaal: Universal Press 2010.

De dissertatie is hier in zijn geheel te lezen: 

Jasper Bosman: Celebrating the Lord-s Supper within Reformed Churches in The Netherlands

The celebration of the Lord’s Supper (or Eucharist, or Holy Supper) is a central and meaningful element of Reformed worship. However, already since the eme
rgence of the Reformed churches in the 16th century, churches and individuals discussed the meaning and function of the sacrament in detail. Although these discussions already have been recorded and analyzed by length, the question remains how the Lord’s Supper is experienced today, by local ministers and church members themselves. Do they agree when it comes to the interpretation (and explanation) of the sacrament? Furthermore, how do their perspectives relate to the confessional texts and theological reflections within their own tradition, and to the current liturgical practices?
By means of qualitative empirical research, this research evaluates the experience of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper within two Calvinistic denominations in the Netherlands. Within this research, the perspectives of several local churches (their confessional and liturgical texts), their ministers, and members who participate in the celebration of the sacrament are described, compared, and evaluated using the Theology in Four Voices model (Cameron et al. 2010). As such, this research describes and evaluates the experience of the Lord’s Supper in a Reformed-Calvinist context today.
Supervisors: Hans Schaeffer (Kampen) and Marcel Barnard (Amsterdam)
The dissertation has been approved; the public defense was planned for 20 March 2020, but was postponed due to the Corona crisis until 18 September 2020.

Anne-Marije de Bruin - Wassinkmaat: Religious identity development of strict Protestant adolescents in the Netherlands

Adolescence is a crucial period in the development of teenagers. They need to develop a stable identity that can function as a fundament for their  further development. Religion is important for this identity development because it offers beliefs, values, and norms that give meaning and influence behavior. In the Netherlands, there are several groups of strict religious people, like Muslims and Christians. For these highly religious people, religion determines their lives, so also their religious identity development. Strict Protestant adolescents develop their identity in a context that is highly religious and fairly homogeneous and this influences their identity development. This context is often different from the secularized world around them. That makes identity development a challenge.
The aim of the research is to understand and describe the religious identity development of adolescents with a strict Protestant education, from the perspective of young adults. I my study I focus on identity construction, processes of exploration and commitment and on the role of identity agents in this development.

Prof. Marcel Barnard (PThU, promoter),  prof. Cok Bakker (Utrecht University, second promoter), dr. A de Kock (PThU, copromoter) and dr. Elsbeth Visser-Vogel  (Driestar educatief) 

Jan Hage: Willem Mudde en de kerkmuzikale vernieuwingsbeweging

Een onderzoek naar zijn positie in de muzikale cultuur en kerkmuziek van de 20e eeuw

Domorganist (Dom, Utrecht)en musicoloog Jan Hage doet onderzoek naar de kerkmuziek in de 20e eeuw.

De protestantse kerken in Nederland hielden zich in de loop van de 20e eeuw, tengevolge van de heroriëntatie op de liturgie voor het eerst in hun bestaan actief bezig met kerkmuziek. Daarbij liet men zich beïnvloeden door de kerkmuziekvernieuwingsbeweging die in Duitsland met name in de jaren ’30 tot bloei kwam en tot op de dag van vandaag in de Nederlandse protestantse kerkmuziek zijn sporen nalaat. De persoon die als geen ander de belichaming was van deze ontwikkeling was Willem Mudde. Hij speelde een bepalende rol gespeeld in de geschiedenis van de Nederlandse protestantse kerkmuziek van de 20 eeuw en verrichtte door het verbinden van de ontwikkelingen in de Nederlandse kerkmuziek met de idealen van de Duitse kerkmuziekvernieuwingsbeweging pionierswerk.  Onderzoek naar het werk van Willem Mudde en de context daarvan zal een wezenlijk deel van de kerkmuzikale ontwikkelingen in de Nederlandse protestantse kerken in kaart brengen en duiden.

Het onderzoek werd afgesloten op 21 september 2016 met de verdediging van het proefschrift: "Muziek als missie. Een luthers geluid in een calvinistische wereld. Een studie naar Willem Mudde en de kerkmuzikale vernieuwingsbeweging" aan de PThU Amsterdam.

Promotor en co-promotor: Marcel Barnard en Jeroen van Gessel (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen).

Jan Henk Hamoen: Het schip der zotten

Een studie naar het leven en werk van ds. August Henkels (1906-1975) toegespitst op zijn verhouding tot de drukker Hendrik Nicolaas Werkman (1882-1945) en de schrijver Simmon Vestdijk (1898-1971)

De theoloog F.R.A. Henkels (1906-1075) inspireerde de Groninger drukker Hendrik Nicolaas Werkman tot wat ongetwijfeld één van de bekendste kunstwerken van het naoorlogse Nederland is: de suite van de Chassidische Legenden, geïnspireerd op de door Martin Buber opgetekende verhalen van de chassidische Joden uit de oost-Europese ghetto’s. In het gijzelaarskamp Michelsgestel correspondeerde Henkels met de schrijver Simon Vestdijk. Het onderzoek resulteerde in een boek over de positie van Henkels in de theologische en culturele context van de jaren 1935-1950. Modernisme, existentialisme en personalisme vormen de achtergrond van de plaatsbepaling. De positie van Henkels binnen de kerkelijke ontwikkelingen in die periode krijgt aandacht door de rol die hij speelde bij het ontstaan van een nieuwe psalmberijming. In de periode na de bevrijding is met name zijn rol als eerste predikant-directeur bij het IKOR van belang.

Het onderzoek is afgerond in 2010.


Jan Henk Hamoen: Het Schip der zotten. Een studie naar het leven en werk van ds. August Henkels (1906-1975) toegespitst op zijn verhouding tot de drukker Hendrik Nicolaas Werkman (1882-1945) en de schrijver Simmon Vestdijk (1898-1971), Vught: Skandalon 2010.


Mirella Klomp: The Sound of Worship

Liturgical Performance by Surinamese Lutherans and Ghanaian Methodists in Amsterdam

Every Sunday afternoon, a cacophony of sounds spreads over the Southeast part of Amsterdam. In churches, car parks, and school buildings, some hundred Christian congregations gather for worship. The performance of worship in these churches brings forth various sounds, which are often not only heard inside, but also outside the buildings. These sounds vary from audible silence and the singing of Geneva psalms in the local protestant congregation, to the upbeat sounds of praise, melodious preaching and rhythmic handclapping in one of the many immigrant churches.

The sound of worship is tightly bound up with the culture of its performers. Liturgical practice thus clearly expresses the identity of the people who perform liturgy, which is materially, culturally and contextually determined. In her study, Mirella Klomp investigated the sound of worship in a Surinamese Lutheran Congregation and a Ghanaian Methodist Church from a cultural-anthropological viewpoint, tried to find out which meanings churchgoers attributed to it and determined the qualities of these sounds. She theologically related these qualities, considered as sacramental shapes, to an incarnational understanding of worship, departing from the idea that, when the physical performance of ritual shapes embody the faith of the performer, forms in which the living Christ – who physically took shape in our reality – may be encountered, are created.

The researches was completed in 2009.


Mirella Klomp:  The Sound of Worship. Liturgical Performance by Surinamese Lutherans and Ghanaian Methodists in Amsterdam (= Liturgia Condenda), Leuven: Peeters 2011

Lydia van Leersum - Bekebrede: Playful Practices Liturgical Rituals with Children from 0-12 in Protestant Contexts in the Netherlands

People invent and reinvent liturgical rituals with children in an ever changing landscape of children’s participation in Protestant contexts in the Netherlands. Others keep liturgical rituals with children as they always have been. In all this the children’s presence and participation plays a vital role, and that is what this PhD project particularly aims to bring to the fore. This topic has the interest of many, especially since the number of children in the Protestant Church (PC) in the Netherlands is dwindling and people feel the need to change the ways in which children participate in the church community. This also concerns liturgical rituals with children, because a bible story cannot be performed so easily with two children in Sunday school, and it is awkward for that one-five-year-old-present-in-the-service to be put in the spotlight during a children’s moment. Yet this research hopes to show that not all those who wander are lost, the old that is strong does not wither. To do so, this research will rely mainly on participant observations in different liturgical rituals with children and on reflections on what is happening through the concepts of discourse, play and embodiment.

The research started in May 2016.

Promotor and co-promotors: Marcel Barnard, Ronelle Sonnenberg and Jos de Kock

Hanna Markus: Religious Tolerance as an Educational Goal for Teachers in Monoreligious Christian Primary and Secondary Education

Hanna MArkusMonoreligious Christian schools are directed towards the socialization of pupils into the Christian faith. Because society is increasingly diverse, questions arise: how to prepare pupils adequately for life in a (religious) diverse society, while the school population is often homogeneous and it is believed that the way of salvation is only through Christ? Since academic and practical attention is increasingly drawn to multireligious and interreligious education, there is a substantial lack of empirical knowledge about what is going on in monoreligious schools. Hanna Markus MA is especially interested in what teachers motivates to work at these schools, and the research is focussed on the teachers’ views and strategies about religious tolerance as an educational goal.

Hans Meerveld: Opbrengsten van jongerencatechese

Een kwalitatief empirisch onderzoek in vier protestantse geloofsgemeenschappen in Nederland

Dit onderzoek gaat over de betekenis van catechese voor het geloofsleren van jongeren van 16 jaar en ouder. Via interviews is aan catecheten gevraagd wat zij willen bereiken met hun catechese (gewenste opbrengsten) en aan catechisanten wat zij werkelijk geleerd hebben. Daarvoor is gebruik gemaakt van het learner report, een onderzoeksinstrument dat door A.D. de Groot is ontwikkeld voor onderzoek naar de vormende aspecten van het onderwijs. Verder zijn bijeenkomsten geobserveerd om te verkennen of er een relatie is tussen de inrichting van de leeromgeving en de opbrengsten.

Het onderzoek is van belang omdat er weinig bekend is over de effecten van georganiseerd onderwijs in kerken. Het is belangrijke informatie zowel voor practioners als betrokkenen bij kerkelijk beleid ten aanzien van catechese. Verder wil deze studie een bijdrage leveren aan theoretische discussies door op basis van de uitkomsten van het onderzoek kritische vragen te stellen bij gangbare opvattingen in de catechese.

Promotor en co-promotor: Marcel Barnard en Jos de Kock

Hans Meerveld verdedigde zijn dissertatie met succes op 5 november 2018.

Dissertatie: Opbrengsten van jongerencatechese. Een kwalitatief empirisch onderzoek in vier protestantse geloofsgemeenschappen in Nederland, 2018. ISBN Handelseditie: 978-94-6369-017-1

Suzanne C. van der Merwe: Liturgie en versoening in die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk

'n Liturgies-rituele benadering

Die vraag ontstaan of dit na vyf-en-twintig jaar na demokrasie in Suid-Afrika nie tyd geword het om aan te beweeg nie? Ek, as navorser, voer aan dat dit júis nou die tyd is, ke nako, om na ‘n kwarteeu van demokrasie ‘n kritiese bestekopname van die versoenings- en transformasieproses in Suid-Afrika te maak. Die navorsing speel hoofsaaklik in twee sfere af wat geensins van mekaar geskei kan word nie, naamlik die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks en die kerklike konteks, met spesifieke verwysing na die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (NG Kerk).

Daar is drie voorveronderstellings waarop hierdie studie gegrond is. Eerstens, ‘n diepe bewussyn van die steeds getraumatiseerde konteks waarbinne Suid-Afrikaners vir hulleself ‘n lewe moet maak, ‘n konteks wat steeds gekenmerk word deur rassespanning- en konflik. Tweedens, die vaardigheid van self-refleksie oor die nalatentskap van die verlede, bedoelende die Apartheidsera, en Suid-Afrikaners se konkrete betrokkenheid in die hede en toekoms. Derdens, die formatiewe rol van die erediens en liturgie, waartydens die liturgie van die erediens en die liturgie van die lewe daadwerklik aan mekaar verbind word.

Op grond van die bogenoemde voorveronderstellings rakende die formatiewe aard van die liturgie, word die sentrale navorsingsvraag van hierdie studie as volg geformuleer:

Hoe kan die liturgie soos gevier binne die NG Kerk formatief meewerk om versoening in die harte van gelowiges te bevorder sodat dit sal impakteer op die huidige en toekomstige Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing? 

Die gevolgtrekking van die navorsing vind dan neerslag in ‘n praxisteorie wat dien as ‘n vertrekpunt vir ‘n liturgiese teologie in wording van versoening in die NG Kerk waardeur versoening in die Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing bevorder word.


Promotor: Prof. Cas Wepener (University of Pretoria); Mede-promotor: Prof. Marcel Barnard

Thesis: Liturgie en versoening in die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk. 'n Liturgies-rituele benadering, Pretoria, 2019.

Leonid Mikhovich: Traditional Worship in Baptist Churches in Belarus

Formation, Features, and Internal Conflicts

This dissertation analyses traditional worship in Baptist churches in Belarus.      

In the first part primary sources will be explored. These sources have a relation to the origins and developments of the evangelical movement and worship services in Belarus. The influence of theological, religious, and political contexts on the process of worship formation will be investigated. The research of the history of worship formation enables a better understanding of current shapes of worship, which will be studied in the second part. A close look at worship as a whole and a study of the content of its composing elements allow the identifying of some key features and values, such as the free form of worship, the importance of the Bible as well as missiological perspectives on worship. The third part deals with the problem of inconsistencies in worship, conditioned by the context of formation. There is ‘an implicit theology embodied in worship’, which manifests itself in the expectations of believers, participants' behavior, the sequence and content of the composing elements, which does not necessarily fit official understandings of worship as expressed in confessions, articles and manuals, and ‘in the Bible’. Contradictions between worship in its empirical shape and Baptist teaching about worship will be showed.

Supervisors: Marcel Barnard (as professor at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Dr Lina Toth and Dr Parush R. Parushev (both International Baptist Theological Seminary)

The dissertation:

Leonid Mikhovich, Traditional Worship in Baptist Churches in Belarus. Formation, Features, and Internal Conflicts, available online at 

Leonid Mikhovich succesfully defended his thesis on January 22, 2021 at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Berry Muchemwa: Born-Again, Morality and Transformation.

An Ethnographic Case Study on Pentecostal Conceptualization of Corruption

The study examines the relationship between Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity and the spreading cancer of corrution in Zambia. Two Pentecostal churches in Kitwe, Zambia, are inverstigated. The main objective of the study is to examine how Pentecostal churches conceptualize the problem of corruption and how believers engage with the conceptualization. In other words, what the study exmines is the possible discursive relationship between Pentecostal spirituality and the believers' perception of corruption. The focus on Pentecostalism is justified by the fact that it is undeoubtely the fastest growing religious current in the Global South today. In Zambia, one of the prominent variants of the new Christianity is the 'health and wealth', 'Word of faith'/ 'prosperity' movement that has dominated the local Pentecostal and charismatic discourses and shaped the lives of people whose hopes are anchored in the belief in divinely auuthored 'favors' of 'breakthroughs'. With the  country facing serious problems resulting from a deepening corruption crisis and an erosion of ethical values among public officials, the study investigates whether Pentecostalism, the most influential Christian trend in Zambia, is able to provide the moral and spiritual framework to help the members respond to the challenges of corruption.

Berry Muchemwa defended his thesis succesfully 5 December 2019.

Thesis: Born-Again, Morality and Transformation. An Ethnographic Case Study on Pentecostal Conceptualisatino of Corruption, s.l. 2019, ISBN 978-94-028-1807-9.  

Rima Nasrallah: A Reformed liturgy in the East

The Lebanese Reformed Church Challenged by the Liturgical Lives of the Women in It

Every year, the minute Reformed Church in Lebanon adds to its numbers new female members by way of intermarriage. The great majority of these women come from Eastern Churches such as the Maronite Church or the Antiochian Orthodox Church. The Reformed Sunday liturgy and liturgical year present those who thus join it with a totally different spiritual reality than what they are used to and what they cherish. Women from Maronite or Antiochian Orthodox backgrounds experience a clash between two liturgical realities and respond by forming their own distinctive liturgical expression.

In this research project, this process of liturgical creation and its result is studied. I look at the rituals and liturgical practices of the women in question in their private and public lives. In particular, I focus on the formations of house altars, the practice of fasting, pledges, healing rituals and pilgrimages. In their rituals and reflections, I find and analyze the unique theologies particular to each woman yet carrying common aspects to all. Standing in-between well defined liturgical traditions one can find in what seems to be spiritual chaos sophisticated theological concepts. Taking into consideration the socio-historical background and the theological factors affecting and shaping their practices, I intend to make the otherwise ignored aspect of these women’s lives known.

The research was concluded by the defense of the dissertation (based on peer reviewed published articles): "Moving and Mixing. The fluid liturgical lives of Antiochian Orthodox and Maronite women within the Protestant Churches in Lebanon", 18 February 2015 at PThU Amsterdam.

Promotores: Marcel Barnard, Heleen Murre - van den Berg (Leiden University) and Martien Brinkman (VU University Amsterdam).

The dissertation is available here: 


Celestin Nsengimana: Genocide Commemoration and Reconciliation in Rwanda. Description and Analysis from a Liturgical Ritual Perspective

994 Rwanda experienced a crime of genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi ethnic group by the Hutu regime of that time after a long lasting ideology of division and discrimination. In the aftermath of that tragedy, a number of initiatives have been undertaken by governmental and non-governmental actors to reconstruct post-genocide Rwanda.  Democratization, socio-economic development, restorative justice, genocide commemoration and reconciliation processes at national and community levels are focal points of these initiatives.

The research project investigates the contribution of genocide commemoration to the process of unity and reconciliation among different groups of people at Kirinda parish of the Presbyterian Church in Rwanda. The research question that will be answered is: How is the liturgical ritual of genocide commemoration at the Kirinda Parish of the Presbyterian Churh in Rwanda shaped and appropriated, and does does it contribute to the process of reconciliation in the post-genocide Rwandan communities?

The concepts of liminality, cultural memory, appropriation and other theories of crisis rituals will play a leading role in the research trajectory. Techniques of participant observation, interviews, literature reviews, will be used to collect data. Data will be analyzed by means of coding and content analysis.

Eward Postma: Dilettant, pelgrim, nar

De positie van C.W. Mönnich in cultuur en theologie

Eward PostmaThe theologian,cultural historian and essayist C.W. Mönnich (1915-1994) occupied a prominent place in Dutch culture in the second half of the twentieth century. He became a public figure in the 1950s and 1960s through his bestseller volume of essays Pelgrimage. Ontmoetingen met de cultuur (1953), his contributions to the newsmagazine De Groene Amsterdammer and other writings. This study describes Mönnich's cultural practice and in particular its implications for the dynamics of culture and Christianity. It demonstrates that a number of cultural fields cross paths in Mönnich's work, and that he considered neither liturgy nor theology or Christianity to be static entities. Examination of Mönnich's position in culture and theology contributes to the further understanding of the role of theologians in Dutch culture in the second half of the twentieth century. My study concentrates on Mönnich's appropriation of four different motifs, namely the dilettante, the pilgrim, the fool and the saint. Examination of literary and liturgical elements in his work illustrates how Mönnich, with his Lutheran and artistic background, gave significance to these motifs. I suggest that they serve Mönnich as ‘identities’: they are objectified concepts of himself as an actor, selected, developed and constructed in a process of social and cultural interaction. The project was finished in June 2008.


E.A. postma, Dilettant, pilgrim, nar. De positie van C.W. Mönnich in cultuur en theologie, Delft: Eburon 2008.

Erik Renkema: Religious identity, religious education and celebrations at Dutch cooperation schools

The research focuses on the religious dimension of the identity of and thereligious education atDutch primary schools that are known as so-called ‘cooperation schools’: schools that are a product of a merger between one or more schools for public (i.e. non-denominational) education and one or more schools for denominational education.

The research will map the field of cooperation schools in the Netherlands and their religious identity and religious education. The duality of public and denominational education is still identifiable within a cooperation school. This means that a diversity of values concerning the (religious) education of students is brought together in one school. Not only in the Netherlands this phenomenon is recognizable: but in any pluralizing society different values contribute to, in this case, the population and the organization of schools; teachers, parents, board and students do not always share the same convictions and beliefs concerning the education and raising of children.

The research will describe how these schools view themselves with regard to the religious perspective of their identity, and how this perspective is realized in the organization and performance of religious education. 

Erik Renkema succesfully defended his thesis, based on peer reviewed articles,Two of a Kind. The Identity of Cooperation Schools in the Netherlands and the Correlation with Religious Education (Ede 2018) on 12 December 2018.

Promotor: Marcel Barnard, co-promotor: André Mulder (Windesheim University Zwolle).

Hanna Rijken: 'My soul doth magnify'

The Appropriation of the Anglican Choral Evensong in the Dutch Context

Hanna RijkenIn increasingly more places in the Netherlands there are choral evensongs following the model of Anglican cathedrals. The evensongs attract many people. The phenomenon raises questions. What exactly is going on here? Is the evensong concert, liturgy, theatre or all of them at the same time? In my research the appropriation of the choral evensong will be investigated in view of transformation of religiosity as well as the changing position of the churches and theology in the Netherlands.

Promotor: Marcel Barnard, co-promotor: Martin Hoondert (Tilburg University)

Hanna Rijken succesfully defended her thesis, My Soul Does Magnify. The Appropriation of the Anglican Choral  Evensong in the Netherlands (Utrecht: Boekencentrum 2017) on 12 December 2017.





Joyce Ronday: Primo Levi's Afters

A Postmodern Theological Reading of the Works of Primo Levi

The Italian Jew Primo Le was sent to Auschwitz in his early twenties and was able to return home after the liberation of the camp. He wrote a testimony which opens with a poem:


(..) Consider whether this is a man

who works in the mud

who knows no peace

who dies at a yes or a no. (..)


His readers get confronted with the face of a man and a woman who are ultimate border figures, the Muselmanner, who seem to have moved beyond the state of the humane. In this research Auschwitz will be regarded an abyss, which separates the before and the after; in the face of the camps firmly standing concepts of Western civilization needed rethinking. The special interest of this project is Levi’s  language for ‘man’ and ‘God’ after Auschwitz, using an interdisciplinary approach that draws on literary methods, postmodern theology and philosophy. 

The  public defense of the dissertation was foreseen at 2020-05-06. Due to the corona crisis the public defense took place at 13 October 2020.

Dissertation: Primo Levi's Afters. Reading Primo Levi Theologically after God, z.p. 2020.

A Dutch edition of the dissertation was published as:

Primo Levi na God. Verhalen van een nieuwe Bijbel, z.p.: Uitgeverij Verbum 2021.

Ronelle Sonnenberg: Youth Worship

God Talk between Beat and Silence

It is agreed that young people ask for new forms of worship that are compatible to late modern culture. Communication in an electronic age, music in an age of pop, prayer in an age of autonomy and faith in an age of secularization have got different shapes compared to earlier times. An exploration of the field of youth worship has confirmed this thesis. It was demonstrated that ‘learning, ‘being together’, ‘recreation’ are relevant elements of worship for youth. The strategic aim of the project is to find tools for churches to create communities and places in which faith of adolescents will be stimulated and deepened. Local as well as translocal youth worship will be included in the research, small group worship as well as mass events.

Questions to be answered in the research project are: How do adolescents participate in youth worship and how do they appropriate it? How can this theologically be evaluated? Which liturgical aspects of categorical and integral youth worship are religiously relevant for adolescents? What is the relation of local youth worship and translocal youth worship events? What characteristics has faith of adolescents in youth worship?

The research was concluded by the public defense of the thesis (based on peer reviewed and published articles): "Youth Worship in Protestant Contexts. A Practical Theological theory of participation of adolescents", 18 February 2015 at PThU Amsterdam.

Promotores and co-promotor: Marcel Barnard, Malan Nel (University of Pretoria) and Jos de Kock (PThU).

Hans van Stralen: Gehoor geven

Een discursieve benadering van de religieuze bekering

Hans van Stralen is 21/9/2009 gepromoveerd op de discursieve benadering van religieuze bekeringsverhalen. In het verleden heeft men eenzijdig het accent gelegd op de psychologische, sociologische en vaak ook morele aspecten van de bekering. In zijn – hermeneutisch georiënteerd – onderzoek blijft Van Stralen stilstaan bij het verhaal van de bekeerling: hoe is dat gestructureerd, welke kenmerken heeft het? Naar zijn idee is dit een goede aanvulling op het bestaande onderzoek, al is het alleen al omdat bekeringsverhalen een stevig fundament hebben: de taal. Die kunnen we uitstekend analyseren en interpreteren, misschien nog wel beter dan het gedrag van de bekeerling. Zijn verder uitgangspunt luidt dat een bekering als een taalverschuiving van de ene (religieuze) taalfamilie naar de andere geduid kan worden: bekeerlingen gaan anders spreken en die verschuiving valt talig te coderen. Zijn modellen concretiseer ik ten slotte a.d.h.v. de conversieteksten van Gabriel Marcel en Gerard Reve.

Dissertatie: "Gehoor geven, een discursieve benadering van de religieuze bekering. De conversieteksten van Gabriel Marcel en Gerard Reve", Amsterdam: Pallas Publications, Amsterdam University Press 2009.

Promotores: Marcel Barnard, Maarten van Buuren (Universiteit Utrecht).

Elsbeth Visser-Vogel: Orthodox gelovige christen- en moslimjongeren en hun religieuze identiteitsontwikkeling

De laatste decennia is de rol van religie in het leven van mensen en de maatschappij als geheel sterk afgenomen. Toch zijn er mensen die het geloof nog steeds als bepalend zien voor de wijze waarop men in het leven staat. Zij vallen op binnen de huidige maatschappij en wekken in toenemende mate bevreemding op. Het betreft hier zowel orthodoxe christenen als praktiserende moslims; het onderzoek richt zich op de laatste groep.

Juist naar de jongeren in deze orthodox gelovige groepen gaat onze belangstelling uit. Waaruit blijkt hun geloof? Hoe is hun religieuze identiteitsontwikkeling verlopen? Wie hebben daar een rol in gespeeld? Hoe verhoudt hun religieuze identiteitsontwikkeling zich tot de maatschappij? Door middel van kwalitatief onderzoek hopen wij antwoorden te vinden op de gestelde vragen.

Dit onderzoek is gestart in februari 2010 en afgesloten met een promotie op 19 mei 2015 aan de Universiteit Utrecht. Promotoren waren Cok Bakker (Universiteit Utrecht) en Marcel Barnard; Jos de Kock (PThU) was co-promotor.

Titel proefschrift: Religious Identity developments of orthoprax Muslim adolescents in the Netherlands.

Henk Vogel:

Christiaan Winter: Klanktaal van liturgische muziek


Wie zich verdiept in de Nederlandse protestantse liturgische muziek uit de twee helft van de twintigste eeuw, stuit al snel op kerkmusicus Willem Vogel. Hij was zonder twijfel de meest productieve componist van het genoemde muziekgenre, maar speelde daarnaast ook beleidsmatig en organisatorisch een centrale rol in de naoorlogse kerkmuziek. Hoewel hij zich in zijn composities aanvankelijk in belangrijke mate liet inspireren door het idioom van de Duitse kerkmuziek, vond hij – doordat hij de capaciteiten en achtergrond van zijn doelgroep centraal stelde – een klanktaal die bepalend werd voor het in liturgie en kerkmuziek geïnteresseerde deel van de Nederlandse protestantse kerken. De analyse van Vogels strofeliedmelodieën geeft inzicht in de muzikale eigenschappen van dat idioom. Vervolgens staat de vraag naar de invloed van die klanktaal centraal. Is het stempel dat Vogel op de liturgische muziek drukte vooralsnog van blijvende aard gebleken, heeft zijn muziek andere componisten van liturgische muziek geïnspireerd en beïnvloedde zijn muziek ook de religieuze identiteit van de kerkgangers?
Het onderzoek bevindt zich op de driesprong van recente kerkhistorie, liturgiewetenschap en muziektheorie en kiest door de combinatie van die disciplines voor een originele benadering van vragen rond de rol en betekenis van muzikaal idioom binnen de kerkelijke liturgie.
Promotores: August den Hollander (Vrije Universiteit) en Marcel Barnard (PThU en voorheen ook Vrije Universiteit), copromotor: Gerben Gritter.

Verwachte afronding: Winter 2022-2023 

Harmen van Wijnen: Faith in small groups of adolescents

Het onderzoeksterrein van dit onderzoek zijn de ‘small groups’ van adolescenten (15-19) zoals deze functioneren op diverse plaatsen en contexten in Youth Ministry. Met name de invloed van het eigene van de ‘small group’ op de interactie binnen de ‘small group’ wordt onderzocht. Het eigene van de ‘small group’ wordt bepaald door de achterliggende doelstelling van de ‘small groups’, de specifieke doelstelling voor de te onderzoeken bijeenkomst, de motivatie van de deelnemers aan de ‘small group’ (is het ontspanning, een gewoonte of een verplichting), de samenstelling van de doelgroep, wat er gebeurt met de participanten van de ‘small group’ en de wijze van begeleiding van de ‘small group’ en de bijbehorende leiderschapstijl. Het onderzoek heeft de volgende doelstellingen:

• Komen tot praktisch-theologische theorievorming van de (geloofs)praktijk van ‘small groups’ op het terrein van Youth Ministry.

• Komen tot een praktijk-theoretisch overzicht van de interactie tussen geloof en cultuur in de onderzochte ‘small groups’.

• Bijdrage leveren aan de verdere praktisch-theologische onderbouwing van de ontwikkeling van de praktijk van Youth Ministry.

• Aanbevelingen doen aan de praktijk van Youth Ministry en aanbevelingen doen voor mogelijk verder onderzoek

Het onderzoek werd afgesloten met de verdediging van het proefschrift (gebaseerd op peer reviewed en gepubliceerde artikelen) op 14 september 2016 aan de PThU Amsterdam: "Faith in small groups of adolescents. Being together as a basic given", Delft: Eburon Academic Publishers, 2016.

Promotor en co-promotor: Marcel Barnard en Rein Brouwer.