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Latest publications from the Centre

Dr Johan Ferreira has written a book about Early Chinese Christianity, titled Early Chinese Christianity: The Tang Christian Monument and other Documents, as part of our Early Christian Studies series. This book investigates the origin and the character of Early Chinese Christianity (景教 Jingjiao) during the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE). It sets Tang Christianity against the background of Syriac Christianity and the Tang cultural milieu, and then particularly focuses on the Tang Christian Monument and two Dunhuang manuscripts, the Hymn to the Trinity and Saints and Scriptures, providing syntactical analyses and fresh translations of the primary material. The research integrates western and Chinese scholarship on the subject and also provides an assessment of the history and theology of Tang Christianity. The book argues that Tang Christianity should not be branded with the Nestorian label, but must be understood in its own right.

This is a first hard cover book in the series, and it also contains facsimiles of rubbing of Tang Christian Monument. To order, please visit our ordering page.

Position Vacant

Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry at Australian Catholic University are searching for a research fellow for a research project focussed on any aspects of religious conflict in Late Antiquity (from the fourth to the seventh centuries CE). For further information, please visit ACU website here.

Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities

Congratulations to Professor David Sim on his election as fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

Associate Professor David Sim has established an international reputation as a specialist in studies of the Gospel according to Matthew, the anonymous late first century writing which became part of the collection known as the New Testament of the Christian Bible. His research has focused on all aspects of the work, but in particular on its socio-religious context and relationship to ancient Judaism. This work has made a major contribution to the wider reconstructive historical research on the origins and development of the Christian movement in the first century CE.


Rev. Dr. Professor Hubertus Drobner has a most distinguished academic and ecclesiastical career. He holds four doctorates (Mainz, Rome x 2, and Oxford) and has a prodigious publishing record, as will be apparent from his list of publications.  He is a worldwide acknowledged expert on Augustine of Hippo and the Cappadocian fathers, a combination across the Latin-Greek divide that has been achieved by very few scholars in the field of Patristics.  In addition, he has regular visiting teaching appointments at the University of Navarra and at the Augustinian Institute in Rome, for Professor Drobner is fluent in German, English, Italian, Spanish, and French.  His various memberships of editorial and advisory boards of the highest calibre illustrate the international esteem in which he is held.

Professor Drobner produced the Lehrbuch der Patrologie (Handbook of Patrology) in 1994, a monumental work of some 900 pages which has gone into three German editions and into French, Spanish, Korean, English, Czech, and Chinese translations, a testimony to his expertise.  His twenty-two monographs, soon to be augmented, are further testimony to his standing and productivity in the field.  Professor Drobner has been a regular visitor to Australia and to the international conferences organised by the Centre for Early Christian Studies, where he has demonstrated his engagement in and support of the research of ACU colleagues and students.


Bronwen Neil has been awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship for 2014-2018 which amounts to $843,000. The title of the project is Dreams, Prophecy and Violence from Early Christianity to the Rise of Islam. The project aims to uncover the common roots of Christian and Islamic dream interpretation. It will reveal common themes in dream literature from pagan and Jewish antiquity to early Christianity and early Islam, and show how dreams and prophecy have been used to increase religious control, and to justify violence since Late Antiquity.

With its focus on an ARC-targeted research area - Understanding Culture and Communities - 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.

The project funding lasts for four years, and includes a Level E salary (research only) and short trips to the Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Studies Centre in Washington DC (Harvard University), and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Centre for the Study of Christianity.


Bronwen Neil and Pauline Allen have received funding for three years for their new project:

Negotiating religious conflict: Letters between Rome and Byzantium in the seventh century, an era of crisis.

Over 1000 letters survive in Greek and Latin from 590 to the end of the seventh century, when the Byzantine empire was at war first with Persia, and then with the Arab forces united under the new faith of Islam.
Bishops and emperors of Rome and Byzantium used letters to negotiate their claims to universal and local power in the course of conflicts over religion. The project will increase our understanding of the ways in which religious conflict was handled through letter-exchange in early Medieval Europe and Byzantium, and what happened when these diplomatic avenues failed. It will shed light on the question of whether the seventh century was really the beginning of the Dark Ages, or a period of cultural regeneration.

The ARC awarded Neil and Allen $150 000 for 2014-2016. This was the only ARC Discovery Project awarded to ACU in 2013.

Recent publications from the Centre

Detailed information about these volumes is on our news and events page.


Asia-Pacific Early Christian Studies Society ninth conference was held 4-6 September, 2014 at Toyo-Eiwa University, Tokyo. The theme was “Life and Death in Early Christianity.” For more information about the society and the conference please visit here.

Early Christian Centuries conference was held in Melbourne on 3 - 5 October. Click here to read the full report.

Style guide for Early Christian Centuries authors can be downloaded here.