Institute for Religion & Critical Inquiry

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Australian Research Council Success

Congratulations to researchers in the Centre for Biblical and Early Christian Studies, Bronwen Neil, Pauline Allen, and Wendy Mayer, who with Chris de Wet (South Africa), have been awarded a prestigious ARC Discovery Project Grant for 2017-2019. This award in a highly-competitive grant program again recognises the team’s long-running successful research at the forefront of Early Christian Studies.

The project is titled ‘Memories of Utopia: Destroying the Past to Create the Future (200-650 CE)’. It aims to examine the evidence for competing utopian ideologies in early Christianity, which was a prelude to the later clash with Islam from the seventh century onward. Evidence from pagan-Jewish-Christian conflicts in Late Antiquity (300-650 CE) shows that violent destruction of the past is not exclusive to fringe religious groups. These past conflicts are relevant for understanding the conflict in the Middle East, precisely because analysis of the sources shows that, in intra- and inter-religious conflicts in Late Antiquity in this same geographic region, violent destruction of the past was a propensity in mainstream religion.

Image: Antioch mosaics c. 2nd-4th cent. CE, with image of the goddess of memory, Mnemosyne. Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA.

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