Professor Morwenna Ludlow

Head of Theology and Religion, Professor

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Telephone: 01392 723278

I teach and conduct research in historical theology.  That is, I am a scholar of the history of Christian thought (with a particular focus on the early church: 100-500 CE) but I also write about the reception of early theology by modern thinkers and I am very interested in the implications of early theology for the world today.

In particular, I have written extensively on the fourth-century Cappadocian theologian, Gregory of Nyssa. My last monograph, Gregory of Nyssa, Ancient and Post-Modern focussed on the reception, use and abuse of Gregory by modern writers. I help coordinate international research meetings on Gregory of Nyssa and am involved in peer-reviewing papers for the series of studies on Gregory published by Brill.

However, my interest in the reception and interpretation of the early church fathers stretches beyond Gregory of Nyssa.  For example, I co-led an international research project on the interpretation of early Christian writers in the modern and post-modern context, which resulted in the publication of Scot Douglass and Morwenna Ludlow (edd.) Reading the Church Fathers.  I have also published on the recent reception of Augustine's Confessions and the City of God.

An important theme in my research has been Christian eschatology, especially the idea of universal salvation. My first monograph, Universal Salvation, studied this concept in Gregory of Nyssa and Karl Rahner. I have also published papers on this idea as it appears in the Reformation, the seventeenth century and other periods. My reflections on hell and its history as a Christian idea were featured as part of a Radio 4 programme, "Beyond Belief".

 

My current project Art, Craft and Rhetoric proposes that more attention needs to be paid to theological writing as an act of making.  Specifically, I argue that discourse about 'art' and 'craft' reveals a fluidity and commonality between activities that are commonly separated under those two different headings. I ask whether systematic or dogmatic theology has been regarded as superior to applied theology for much the same reasons as fine art has been regarded as superior to applied art. I use debates about craft from Ruskin and Morris to the present day in order to investigate challenges to the art/craft distinction, using both craft-practitioners (David Jones, Bernard Leach, Edmund De Waal and Grayson Perry) and scholars who write about craft (e.g. Adamson, Frayling, Sennett). Because I argue that the rhetoric about craft functions in very similar ways in Late Antiquity and the current day, I use debates in both periods to illuminate each other and investigate the implications for both ancient and modern theological writing.

 

I welcome enquiries from students wishing to conduct research in any of the above areas and on theology of the early Church more generally.

I teach an introductory module on the development of early Christianity and specialised modules on the history and theology of heaven and hell; on reading Augustine's Confessions, and on Eve and Mary in different religious traditions.

I manage the Theology and Religion in Exeter research blog.