Institute for Religion & Critical Inquiry

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ARC Future Fellowship success

ACU Historical Theologian Dr Bronwen Neil has been awarded a prestigious Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship for her project Dreams, Prophecy and Violence from Early Christianity to the Rise of Islam.

ARC Future Fellowships support research in areas of critical national importance by giving outstanding mid-career researchers incentives to conduct their research in Australia.

Dr Neil’s four-year project will start in September and is focused on the ARC-targeted research area of Understanding Culture and Communities.

The project will uncover the common themes in dream literature from pagan and Jewish antiquity to early Christianity and early Islam, aiming to show how dreams and prophecy have been used to increase religious control, and to justify violence since the period of Late Antiquity.

Dr Neil said that the project will benefit Australia by building intercultural understanding between contemporary Jews, Christians and Muslims.

“It will stress the common cultural roots of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by uncovering the crucial role of dreams and prophecy in increasing the authority of religious leaders, and the use of dreams to justify inter-religious violence.”

Dr Neil will be based at the Centre for Biblical and Early Christian Studies in Brisbane which is part of ACU’s Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry.  She will also travel to Harvard University’s Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Studies Center and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Center for the Study of Christianity to conduct her research.

She said that she was delighted to receive the Fellowship.

“It’s a hugely exciting prospect, and I’m grateful to the many colleagues at ACU who encouraged me to apply.”

Professor Wayne McKenna, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), said that the Fellowship was a great honour for both Dr Neil and ACU.

“We extend our warmest congratulations to Dr Neil – this is a tremendous achievement.  It is recognition of both the quality of her past research and the excellence of the work of the Centre for Biblical and Early Christian Studies.”

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