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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Water and Scripture: Reflections on Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

14-15 January 2010

This two-day international symposium will bring together a group of leading scholars in art history, theology, history and philosophy to discuss the roles water has played in the core texts of the Abrahamic religions - particularly Christianity - and in their various oral, textual and visual interpretations. The symposium will focus on key water-related themes stemming from these texts and will include illustrated papers that explore and interpret scriptural subjects such as 'Abyssus abyssum invocat'; Moses and the spring; the drowning of Pharaoh; Christ as the fountain of life, Mary as the source; the baptism of barbarians; the spilling of tears and the spilling of blood; and images of the Nile in text and mosaic art. 

The symposium will be launched with a public lecture from one of the world's leading medieval and Byzantine art historians, Professor Henry P. Maguire (Johns Hopkins University).  His book, Earth and Ocean, is a seminal study of watery themes in art. Other invited speakers from the UK, North America and Canada include: Professor Timothy D Barnes (Universities of Toronto and Edinburgh), Dr Fabio Barry (University of St Andrews), Professor James Crow (Edinburgh University), Dr Greti Dinkova-Bruun (Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, Toronto), Professor Michael Kulikowski (Pennsylvania State University), and Dr Andrew Merrills (University of Leicester).

The papers and discussion will enrich understanding of the role water has played in the interpretation of scripture in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages with the intention that the papers are subsequently published in the series Durham Monographs and Essays in Medieval & Renaissance Studies.  This symposium is supported by the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

This symposium is free and open to all.  To register for this event or for more information please contact Dr Giles Gasper or Dr Paul Stephenson