27. June 2023

Two New Working Papers out now! New Working Papers by Prof. Dr. Christian Blumenthal and Prof. Dr. Lewis Doney

No. 11 by Prof. Dr. Christian Blumenthal and No. 12 by Prof. Dr. Lewis Doney are now available

Our Working Papers present results from ongoing research and contribute to current scholarly debate. They are conceptualized as “work in progress”. The aim of this publishing series is to stimulate debates on the new key concept of the Cluster, strong asymmetrical dependency. The papers are subject to an internal peer review.



BCDSS Working Paper 11: Prof. Dr. Christian Blumenthal - The Power of Biblical Authors. A Risk Analysis of ‘Living’ Sacred Texts

New Testament authors claim immense (interpretive) power and generate strong asymmetrical dependencies between themselves and the communities they address. They are convinced that they have the resource of ‘salvation’, the authentic interpretation of the Christ event and access to the congregation. In research, this mostly hidden and sometimes even veiled establishment of pronounced power and dependency structures has hardly been
systematically investigated. This is all the more surprising as biblical texts continue to be used in Christian churches worldwide to consolidate and legitimise structures of power and authority. Against this background, Prof. Dr. Christian Blumenthal inquires about the susceptibility of ‘living’ sacred texts to abuse, and examines these texts with regard to their potential for risk and danger.


BCDSS Working Paper 12: Prof. Dr. Lewis Doney - Dependency at the Centre and Periphery of the Tibetan Empire. Sayings, Doings and Interagency

In his paper, Prof. Dr. Lewis Doney presents a microhistory of ninth-century asymmetrical social relations in the centre and on the periphery of the Tibetan empire (ca. 600–850 CE). During the reign of the Yar lung dynasty’s Emperor Khri Srong lde brtsan (r. 756–ca. 800), official documents such as inscriptions represent him as a beneficent ruler of loyal ministers from elite families and as establishing Buddhism for the benefit of his rather non-descript but grateful subjects. The analysis of these rhetorical “sayings” then gives way to describing the “doings” in Dunhuang on the periphery of that empire, inhabited by mostly ethnic Chinese people who both perpetuated and worked within systems of asymmetrical dependency. Eighth- and ninth-century Tibetan emperors gradually introduced new rules for the Tibetan government of both monastic and lay organisations of Buddhists there, and they also employed many of the monks and laity as scribes to copy Buddhist works for the spiritual benefit of the rulers. Works found at the beginning of the twentieth century at the Mogao cave complex near Dunhuang, walled up in Mogao Cave 17 or the so-called “library cave,” offer unparalleled access to their “doings,” the relation of scribes with each other, with sutra editors, and with Tibetan imperial power right up to the emperors themselves. They thus fill out our image of the “interagency” between Tibetan subjects and their asymmetrical relations to the Tibetan empire—while problematizing the emperors’ self-representational “sayings” in, inter alia, the imperial inscriptions.


Download Working Papers 11 and 12 here. 

See an overview of all BCDSS Working Papers in the series.

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