CJA Colloquium: Morwenna Ludlow

Courtesy of Prof. Judy Kovacs. Anyone in the area should stop by:

Please mark your calendars for our next meeting on Tuesday, April 7,
12:30 -1:45 in Newcomb Hall Room 389.

Our guest speaker will be Prof. Morwenna Ludlow, of Exeter University (England), who will speak on the topic: “Power and Dominion? Patristic Readings of Genesis 1.” Please look over beforehand the primary texts that will be distributed a week or so before the colloquium.

Prof. Ludlow offers this summary of her presentation:

In current environmental debates, Christian biblical interpretation has often been held at least partly responsible for faulty modern Western attitudes to the natural world. In particular, attention has fallen on readings of Gen. 1:26 in which God is described as giving humans ‘dominion’ over other creatures. Setting the modern theological and ecological debate to one side, this paper will give an historical analysis of some church fathers’ interpretations of the first chapter of Genesis. The first part – ‘power’ – will be a brief survey of readings of Gen. 1:1 with the aim of examining what kind of interpretation the fathers are attempting (literal, figurative, allegorical?) and in what kind of contexts (homilies for a mixed audience, more specialised philosophical treatises?). It will be seen that a factor unifying diverse interpretations is an emphasis on the unique power of God. The paper’s second part – ‘dominion’ – will focus on Gen. 1:26, analysing the fathers’ understanding of the relationship of humans to other animals in the light both of the ‘imago dei’ theme and of late antique concepts of human and animal nature (especially in relation to the concept of ‘soul’).


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