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Do you have a place that you love, that you’ve introduced to a dear friend, only to discover that they absolutely hate it?
This was the subject of the paper I delivered to the North American Patristics Society, whose annual meeting took place this May in Chicago. Basil of Caesarea (c.329-379) is famous as the ‘father of monasticism’, but before setting up his famous monastery in Caesarea he (and his family and friends) experimented with other ways of being a monk. Basil travelled around various ascetic communities on a kind of gap year after university in Athens; he then went and taught rhetoric in Caesarea, but soon had a change of heart and settled on a remote part of his family estate (at Annisa, modern Uluköy) to live as a hermit with a small group of other men.
A conference at the University of Exeter, held under the aegis of the South West Late Antiquity Network.
Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto
The topic of religious identity in late antiquity is highly contentious, with significant debate revolving around the reasons for shifts in self-identifications, the degree to which any labels (ancient or modern) for religious categories reflect a real sense of unified social identity, and the malleability and potential overlapping of religious identities. Although most scholars agree that identities were constructed and expressed through forms of ‘rhetoric’, a systematic study of rhetoric’s meaning and influence in this context is still required.
XIII International Colloquium on Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies on the Song of Songs Rome, 17-20 September 2014, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
Dr Morwenna Ludlow
The exciting thing about Gregory of Nyssa colloquia is that they gather together some of the best international scholars working on early Christianity – not just the ones working on Gregory! The first colloquium in 1969 was co-organised by Jean Daniélou and Marguerite Harl – two of the scholars most responsible for the post-war surge of interest in the church fathers. This year we had delegates from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Japan, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the USA. Yet the meetings are small enough to encourage genuine conversation and the atmosphere is friendly: it’s possible for a student to find herself in line for coffee or to be seated at lunch next to one of the grand old men of European patristics and to be quizzed on her current research!