Stefan Mulder, theology graduate of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, has won the Jan Brouwer Thesis Prize for Philosophy and Religious Studies awarded by the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW). He will be presented with the prize on 11 April in the Hodshon Huis in Haarlem.
Stefan’s Master’s thesis, Early Christian Christology Contextualised: The Graeco-Roman Context of ‘Christian’ Docetism, argues that docetism, an early Christian doctrine within the debate about the divinity/humanity of Jesus, has a clear Graeco-Roman background. Docetism has until now been regarded as a uniquely Christian phenomenon – possibly with a Jewish background – or as a later reaction from the Graeco-Roman world to a Christian image of God. Both approaches view both docetism and Christianity separately from their Graeco-Roman context.
By linking docetism on the one hand to the widespread Greek (and Roman) ideas about epiphany and the eidolon motif on the other, Stefan Mulder's Master’s thesis clarifies the position of this early Christian doctrine in its historical context. The topic links his two degrees, Classical Languages and Theology, and is a crucial link when attempting to answer questions that affect both fields, says Stefan.
So how does he feel about being awarded this prize? Mulder: ‘It goes without saying that it is an honour and a surprise – not many people would say that my thesis topic is of immediate relevance for today’s society. I regard the fact that my thesis has been honoured in this way as valuable recognition of the importance of fundamental research. I now want to complete my other degree programme (Greek and Latin Languages and Cultures), and then I may continue with a PhD in one of the two fields, preferably one that links both fields.’
How has he enjoyed his time as a UG student so far? ‘What I particularly appreciated about my degree programme at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies was its breadth. When you say that you are a theology student, a surprising number of people expect something very dogmatic, and that you’ve learned the Bible off by heart. But Theology at the UG, and particularly thanks to my personal focus on the historical side, covers a wide range of course units: psychology, sociology, philosophy, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, history...and that’s just a few of them.’
Finally, a nosey question: what is Stefan going to do with the prize money (€ 2000)? ‘I will probably use it to study abroad, although I don’t have any concrete plans yet. It will also come in handy for equipment costs for a trip I’m planning through Norway this year.’ We wish Stefan every success in the future and a festive day on 11 April!
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