Past conferences

10-11 June 2021: The Nature and Logic of God’s Love

‘God is love’ is a central Biblical notion, but what does this ‘love’ mean and how does it function? Theological definitions of love have discerned aspects of intentionality, emotion, disposition, relation, vulnerability and suffering. The internal logic of love differs from a logic of power. Power often is a zero-sum game: the powerful wins what the powerless loses. Love, however, evokes more love; while a lack of love results in a loss for all. In a theological sense, love is both based in the beautiful order of creation, and fruit of the Spirit who renews people eschatologically. Meanwhile, the Bible testifies to the asymmetric relation in the game of love between the mighty, living God and his people. All these aspects raise the question anew: what is the logic of love?

Key Note Speakers were:

  • Paul Nimmo (University of Aberdeen)
  • Eric Peels (Theological University Apeldoorn)
  • Ruben Zimmermann (Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz)

The conference volume is in preparation.

22-23 March 2018: Israel as Hermeneutical Challenge 

The very fact that Israel exists — whether we mean the people, the nation, and/or the land — challenges the way Christian theologians read the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Escape routes such as replacement theology, various forms of dispensationalism and chiliastic understandings not only run the risk of offering forced readings of biblical texts, but also of treating Israel only as a phenomenon that is relevant for the past or the future, but not for the present. Particularly (Dutch) Reformed theology, however, has a tradition of taking the actual Israel into account, mainly through the theological idea of covenant, which serves to keep Israel and the Church together while noting their differences. The central question of the conference was the lasting significance of God’s love for Israel. To which extent does this love discriminate between humans, and what are the relations between Church and Israel, Christian theology and Jewish scholarship? These questions are not only relevant for a theology of Israel, but also for Christian theology proper (since the character of God is at stake), and for Christian hermeneutics: Israel challenges the way the Bible is read.

Conference volume in preparation.

30-31 March 2017: Covenant 

The central topic of this conference was the doctrine of the covenant in the 21st century as seen against the biblical background of newer research on berit and diathèkè, and the historical background of the reformed doctrine of the covenant. Biblical scholars and systematic theologians contributed to the conference. 

Conference volume: Hans Burger, Gert Kwakkel and Michael Mulder (eds.), Covenant: A Vital Element of Reformed Theology: Biblical, Historical and Systematic-Theological Perspectives, Studies in Reformed Theology 42 (Leiden: Brill, 2022),

11-12 June 2015: Sola Scriptura

Conference volume: Hans Burger, Arnold Huijgen, and Eric Peels (eds.), Sola Scriptura: Biblical and Theological Perspectives on Scripture, Authority, and Hermeneutics, Studies in Reformed Theology 32, Leiden: Brill, 2017.

Sola Scriptura offers a multi-disciplinary reflection on the theme of the priority and importance of Scripture in theology, from historical, biblical-theological and systematic-theological perspectives, aiming at the interaction between exegesis and dogmatics. Brian Brock and Kevin J. Vanhoozer offer concluding reflections on the theme, bringing the various contributions together.


12 April 2013: Playing with Leviathan

This conference was hosted by the joint biblical scholars of the Theological Universities of Apeldoorn and Kampen, the precursor of the BEST research group.

Conference volume: Koert van Bekkum and Jaap Dekker (eds.), Playing with Leviathan: Interpretation and Reception of Monsters from the Biblical World, Themes in Biblical Narrative, Jewish and Christian Traditions 21, Leiden: Brill, 2017.

Since ancient times Leviathan and other monsters from the biblical world symbolize the life-threatening powers in nature and history. They represent the dark aspects of human nature and political entities and reveal the supernatural dimensions of evil. Ancient texts and pictures regarding these monsters reflect an environment of polytheism and religious pluralism. Remarkably, however, the biblical writings and post-biblical traditions use these venerated symbols in portraying God as being sovereign over the entire universe, a theme that is also prominent in the reception of these texts in subsequent contexts. 

This volume explores this tension and elucidates the theological and cultural meaning of ‘Leviathan’ by studying its ancient Near Eastern background and its attestation in biblical texts, early and rabbinic Judaism, Christian theology, Early Modern art, and film.