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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.

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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.