Friday, 28 April 2017

PhD studentships - Call for Applications

Call for Applications                                                   reference number 18/2017
The Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies (Max-Weber-Kolleg) at the University of Erfurt invites applications for up to 4

doctoral positions for Ph.D. projects
Pay category E 13 TV-L (65 %)

in the fields of Religious Studies, Sociology, Philosophy, History, Classics and related subjects within the framework of the International Research Training Group (IGDK) “Resonant Self–World Relations in Ancient and Modern Socio-Religious Practices” directed by Prof. Dr. Jörg Rüpke and Prof. Dr. Hartmut Rosa (Erfurt) and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Spickermann and Prof. Dr. Irmtraud Fischer (Graz).
The positions are to be filled by 1 October 2017 for a period of 36 months.
The project is a cooperation between the Max-Weber-Kolleg at the University of Erfurt and the University of Graz. Participants are required to spend one academic year at the cooperating university in the second year of their term.

As an International Research Training Group, the programme’s primary language is   English.


·       Excellent degree in one of the above named  disciplines
·       Knowledge of English, German (at least reading skills, candidates without knowledge of German are requested to take courses), and other relevant  languages
·       Willingness to cooperate with colleagues within the interdisciplinary research environment of the Max-Weber-Kolleg, in particular the IGDK, and the University of Graz
·       Willingness to take part in the joint study programme and to move to the University of Graz for one academic year

Core research fields and project suggestions in the framework of the IDGK are outlined on the programme’s website (cf. “Showcases”). Further proposals developed by applicants for research projects that fit the framework of “Resonant Self–World Relations” in the above named disciplines are welcome. For more information about the Max-Weber-Kolleg and the IGDK please see: https://www.uni-

Application Deadline

Please submit your application with CV, copies of your final school and university degrees, a copy   of your MA or diploma thesis, one letter of recommendation and an outline of the PhD project you would like to pursue (max. 5 pages) with a stringent discussion of your research questions, the state of research on the topic, the methodological approach and the leading hypotheses as well as a working  schedule  and  projected  date  of  completion  as  pdf-files  (maximum  of  10  MB)  by   21 May 2017 to:

University of Erfurt • Max-Weber-Kolleg •


The University of Erfurt is an equal opportunity employer in compliance with the Thuringian Equal Opportunities Act (Thüringer Gleichstellungsgesetz). Handicapped applicants are given preference in cases of equal qualification.
Direct informal enquiries may be made to Dr. Elisabeth Begemann (elisabeth.begemann@uni-

The University of Erfurt does not refund any costs incurred in the application process. Interviews will be conducted on 20 and 21 June 2017.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Publication of Fortunatianus' Commentary on the Gospels

The CSEL edition of the rediscovered Commentarii in evangelia (Commentary on the Gospels) by the fourth-century bishop Fortunatianus of Aquileia has now been published.

Dr Lukas J. Dorfbauer, Mitarbeiter of the CSEL and editor of the volume, has supplemented his 2012 identification of the almost-complete text in an early ninth-century anonymous manuscript (Köln, Dombibliothek, HS 17) with numerous secondary witnesses to the tradition. These and the history of the text are treated in a lengthy introduction which precedes the full critical text and apparatus, and extensive indices.

The volume, CSEL 103, is available from De Gruyter as a hard-back book or electronic text, and individual chapters are available for download at a fraction of the price of the whole book.

Also to be published by De Gruyter, later this year, as extra seriem volumes in the CSEL edition, are a collection of studies from the 2015 conference on Fortunatianus in Salzburg (Fortunatianus Redivivus) and an English translation of the commentary.

Monday, 2 January 2017

The Eusebius Essay Prize Submissions now being accepted

The Eusebius Essay Prize, of £500, is offered annually for the best essay submitted on a subject connected with any aspect of early Christian history, broadly understood as including the first seven centuries AD/CE. Scholars in any relevant discipline (theology, classics, late antique studies, Middle Eastern Studies etc.), whether established in their field or graduate students, are encouraged to enter the competition. Submissions from younger scholars are particularly welcomed.
The essay should not exceed 8,000 words, including footnotes, and should be submitted by 30 September 2017. A judgement will be made at the end of November 2017 (the editors reserve the right not to award the prize if no essay of significant quality is submitted).
The essay of the successful candidate will be published in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History. Other submissions entered into the competition may also be recommended for publication.
All essays should be sent by e-mail attachment (with Eusebius Essay Prize in the subject line), prepared to journal style, to Mrs Mandy Barker at

Recent Eusebius Prize winning essays - free to access

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

In Memoriam Professor Maureen Tilley

With great sadness, we have learned from her Husband Terry that our colleague and presenter of last year's conference, Professor Maureen Tilley has died. She was professor of theology, doing research on early Christianity, late antiquity, but was also an expert on the formation of the modern Catholic church. She died on 3 April of pancreatic cancer. Her paper ('Pseudo-Cyprian and the rebaptism controversy in Africa'), given at the conference, she had, however, submitted and we are glad that it will be published in the forthcoming conference proceedings.
Maureen was a long-standing participant of our conference, let me only remind us of a few earlier contributions of her: In SP 27 (1993), 405-8 she published 'Understanding Augustine Misunderstanding Tyconius', in SP 33 (1997), 260-5 'From Separatist Sect to Majority Church: The Ecclesiology of Parmenian and Tyconius', in SP 35 (2001), 330-7 'Theologies of Penance during the Donatist Controversy', in SP 40 (2006), 121-6 'Mary in Roman Africa: Evidence for Her Cultus'. We will all dearly miss her.

For her obituary of Fordham University, see here

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Patristic Seminar on the relationship between Patristics and Philosophy, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome

On the 8th and 9th of April 2016 a special Patristic Seminar on the relationship between Patristics and Philosophy will be held at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

The main speakers will be Mark Edwards (Christ Church, Oxford) and Matyáš Havrda (Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague).

The Seminar is open to PhD students and young researchers.


April 8    16.00-18.00 Hypostasis and Hypokeimenon in Gregory of Nyssa by
                                    Mark Edwards Christ Church, Oxford
April 9    9.00-11.00 Clement of Alexandria’s Project of Christian Philosophy
                                  Matyáš Havrda, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague
               11.00-12.00 Discussion Chair: Giulio Maspero, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross,                                          Rome

The number of participants is limited. Please send an email to

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Holy Hero(in)es. Literary Constructions of Heroism in Late Antique and Early Medieval Hagiography

International conference at Ghent University (Belgium), Thursday 18th to Saturday 20th February 2016

Confirmed keynote speaker: Prof. dr. Stephanos Efthymiadis (Open University of Cyprus)

The ERC research group Novel Saints (Ghent University) builds on and contributes to a recent trend in scholarship of studying late antique and early medieval hagiography (4th-12th cent.) as literature. We welcome paper proposals for our first, international conference, which will deal with literary constructions of characters as hero(in)es in different types of late antique and early medieval hagiographical narrative (LivesMartyr Acts, hagiographical romances, etc.). We envisage contributions on hagiography from different linguistic traditions (Latin, Greek, Syriac, Georgian, Coptic, Armenian, Persian and Arabic).

The conference aims to explore definitions of and aspects/concepts relevant to heroism in Christian narrative. What does it mean to be a hero(ine) in these narratives? Are there different types of hero(in)es (and of heroism)? To what extent can narratological concepts provide useful tools for evaluating hagiographical constructions of heroism? The other central question is how saints (and/or, possibly, other characters) are characterized, shaped, imagined and/or constructed as hero(in)es. This last, broad question comprises a number of important sub-questions:
  • Which literary and/or rhetorical techniques underlie such constructions? To what extent and how do these narratives employ techniques rooted in ancient rhetoric (e.g.ecphrasissyncrisisethopoeia, etc.), and to what purpose?
  • Does the notion of heroism imply specific behavioural patterns and/or speech acts?
  • What is the relevance of other literary traditions, such as biblical narrative, Acts of the Apostles (both canonical and apocryphal), ancient biography, historiography and fiction (pagan and/or Jewish novels)? To what extent do these traditions offer models of heroism that are adopted/adapted in hagiographical narratives? To what extent and how, for example, do ancient fictional strands of heroism persist in hagiographical constructions of martyrs and saints, as they are well known to do, for example, in the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles (e.g. Paul & Thecla) and other early Christian narrative such as the Ps.-Clementines and a few pre-Nicean Martyr Acts?
  • How do hagiographical narratives adopt/rework authentication strategies common in biography or historiography in order to construct its hero(in)es?
  • To what extent and how do constructions of heroism in saints/martyrs in different cultures develop over time and cross-fertilize other such constructs throughout late antiquity and the middle ages?

In relation to this, the conference also aims to explore issues like the following:
  • heroism and definitions of sainthood and holiness;
  • heroism and explorations of moral/ethical dimensions of character;
  • heroism and development (is one a hero(ine) or does one become one?);
  • saints, self-presentation and performance: constructions of heroism and/or re-enactments of earlier models by saints themselves (rather than by the narrators of their narratives);
  • heroism and ego-narration;
  • heroic constructions in collective v. individual life-writing;
  • impact of depictions of hero(in)es/heroic behaviour on audiences;
  • heroism and meta-literary approaches: ?heroic? qualities of both saints and texts;
  • types of saints (e.g. desert saints, military saints, converted prostitutes, holy fools, etc.) v. character individuation.

Abstracts (in English or French) should contain 300-350 words and should be sent to before 20 September 2015. Notifications about acceptance (or not) will be sent out by 20 October 2015.  Not only senior scholars but also PhD students are welcome to submit abstracts.

For further queries, please contact or

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Jarred Mercer: Vox infantis, vox Dei: the spirituality of children and being Christian in late antiquity

The study of children and childhood in late antiquity is a bourgeoning field. Studies to this point have focused primarily on socio-cultural conditions surrounding children in early Christianity or Late Antiquity generally, such as the education of children, children in relation to violence, liturgical practice, play, the child-parent relationship, abortion, infanticide, etc. (e.g. Clark (1994); Leyerle (1997); Bakke (2005); Horn and Martens, (2009); Horn and Phenix (2009)). This paper seeks to contribute to this fascinating area of research by exploring the spirituality of children (an important contemporary issue in theology and religious studies, psychology and anthropology which has not yet taken root in late antiquity studies) and how it functions in early Latin Christian perspectives on conversion and spiritual life, in other words, on becoming and being Christian.
Early Christians relied often upon the words of Jesus in Matthew 18.3 (‘unless you are converted and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of God’) as a model for Christian conversion and holiness: Being Christian is about becoming like a little child, so that Leo could write: ‘Christ loves infancy, master of humility, rule of innocence, model of gentleness’ (Sermo 8.3). Predominantly, the metaphor of childhood is interpreted morally, to promote a return of the Christian to the child’s outward existence of ‘innocence’. The child’s lack of concern for status, wealth, and, perhaps most often, sexual lust (e.g. Tert. De mon. 8) is held up as an exemplum of Christian virtue. However, there are texts which imply that the image of the child went beyond a passive outward example of the virtuous life. For Hilary of Poitiers, this return to childhood involves a resemblance, image, or vision of the humility of Christ himself (speciem humilitatis dominicae), and this speciem is a return to the very nature of childhood (In Matth. 18.1: reuersos in naturam puerorom). There is a sense here in which the spirituality of children, the child’s natural relation to God, and not only moral innocence of humility, is the goal of the Christian life. This paper will explore this primarily through investigating the role of the vox infantis in Christian conversion and identity formation. There are critical points in the lives of some early Christians, such as Augustine’s conversion and the consecration of both Ambrose and Martin of Tours as bishops, in which the voice of a child is accepted as the voice of God itself. The authority given to the voice of the child over the Christian and how these Christians are seen to manifest the journey of return to childhood in obedience to it, teach us something about the role the childhood metaphor of Jesus played in early Latin Christianity. To follow the voice of the child is to follow God’s own voice and, particularly with the christological connection mentioned above (what François Bovon (1999) has called ‘christology of the child’), this perhaps demonstrates that, from the perspective of these texts, in order for one to be Christian she must ‘convert and become like a child’ because God himself is childlike.