Time and Eternity

The Question of Time in Church, Science, and Theology

Antje Jackelén

What is time? Is there a link between objective knowledge about time and subjective experience of time? And what is eternity? Does religion have the answer? Does science?

Internationally known scholar Antje Jackelén investigates the problem and concept of time. Her study draws on her experiences in the Continental-European science and religion dialogue, with a particular focus on the German, Scandinavian, and Anglo-American dialogues. Her analysis of the subject includes:

  • The notion of time and eternity as it is narrated through Christian hymn books stemming from Germany, Sweden, and the English-speaking world, with insights into changes of the concept and understanding of time in Christian spirituality over the past few decades
  • Theological approaches to time and eternity, as well as a look at Trinitarian theology and its relation to time
  • The discussion of scientific theories of time, including Newtonian, relativistic, quantum, and chaos theories
  • The formulation of a "theology of time," a theological-mathematical model incorporating relational thinking oriented toward the future, the doctrine of trinity, and the notion of eschatology

Preface to the English Edition / ix

Preface to the German Edition / xi

Introduction and Hermeneutical Approach / 1

1. No Concept of Time without Narrated Time: Narrated Time in Hymns / 11

  • Motivation—Why Hymns? / 11
  • Material / 13
  • Methods / 15
  • Quantitative Analysis / 17
  • Qualitative Analysis / 28
  • Summary and Preview / 55

2. Biblical and Theological Conceptions of Time / 61

  • On the Theological Understanding of the Problem of Time / 62
  • Time in the Bible / 64
  • Time in Theological Conceptualization / 81
  • Provisional Results—Eternity as the Other of Time / 116

3. Time in the Formulation of Scientific Theory / 121

  • On the Dialogue between Science and Theology / 121
  • The Concept of Absolute Time / 125
  • The Concept of Relative Time / 140
  • Time and the Quantum World / 149
  • Cosmological Perspectives / 159
  • Thermodynamics and Chaos Research / 166
  • Summarizing Reflections / 172

4. Aspects of a Theology of Time / 183

  • More Precise Definitions / 183
  • Trinitarian Models of Time / 190
  • Eschatology as the Key to a Relational Understanding of Time / 198
  • The Possibility and Urgency of a Theology of Time / 222

Notes / 233

Bibliography / 315

Index / 335