The aim of this book is to explore the possibilities of relationally determined and eschatologically qualified concepts of time and eternity. By doing this, I would like to contribute to the dialogue between theology and science, as well as to an appropriate theology of time.
This study is based on a doctoral dissertation which I submitted to the Theological Faculty of the University of Lund, Sweden. I have revised the text for publication. In the course of working with the topic of time, the concept of relation became increasingly important to me. Yet, it was not only the word itself that revealed its significance for my project; diverse real relations also made major impacts on its progress. Without a rich relational tapestry of human and academic contacts, this book would never have been completed.
For multiple support, advice, and help, I would here like to express my heartfelt thanks to: Bishops Krister Stendahl and KG Hammar, for their encouragement to begin a doctoral study program while being in parish ministry; Professor Werner G. Jeanrond of Lund, for his good and decisive advice during the writing of the dissertation; hymnologist Elisabet Wentz-Janacek of Lund, for her stimulating ideas and suggestions for the first chapter; Professor Gösta Gustafson of Lund, for his critical reading of the chapter on science; Professor Jürgen Hübner of Heidelberg, for many helpful discussions and access to the library of the Forschungsstätte der Evangelischen Studiengemeinschaft (FESt); Rev. Dr. Wolfgang Achtner, Giessen, for valuable perspectives on the entire study; Professor Michael Welker of Heidelberg, for making an exchange of ideas with other academics possible;
Professor Rainer Zimmermann of Munich, for reactions and comments, particularly with regard to the third chapter; my colleagues in the systematic theology doctoral seminar at the University of Lund, as well as Lund professors Gösta Hallonsten, Manfred Hofmann, and Rune Söderlund for numerous interesting discussions; Professor Ulf Görman, Rev. Dr. Charlotte Methuen, and all colleagues and friends in the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology (ESSSAT) who offered stimulating suggestions and advice; the Neukirchener Verlag, especially Mr. Starke and Mr. Hegner, for publishing this book; Joanna Jackelen, for the proofreading and layout; the IT team of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, for assistance in resolving conflicts between German, Swedish, and American computer cultures; my parents, Marianne and Werner Zöllner, for their manifold support during the entire project; my husband Heinz and our daughters, Joanna and Andrea, for their understanding and occasional—but usually beneficial—lack of understanding; and, finally, also those dialogue partners outside of the university who followed the development of this study with sympathy and enthusiasm. Their questions often forced me to reformulate my thoughts in a more generally intelligible manner. They also continually made it clear to me that the topic of time is captivating and fascinating— and that the discussion of time will probably never come to an end.
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