Lee News

Johnson Organizes International Workshop at Oxford University


By Ashley Walker

Lee University’s Dr. Aaron Johnson recently organized an international workshop at the Eighteenth International Conference on Patristic Studies which took place at Oxford University, England. The workshop was titled “Julian and Cyril: Texts, Themes, and Polemic.”

Johnson, associate professor of humanities at Lee, was the principle organizer of the workshop, which included an international line up of invited participants from Australia, Germany, France, and the United States. The participants presented ongoing research on the Greek text of Cyril of Alexandria’s “Contra Julianum,” or “Against Julian,” and Johnson offered a prepared response to the participants’ papers.

Johnson Plans Workshop in Oxford
Dr. Aaron Johnson

According to Johnson, this Oxford workshop is one of the first of its kind and was highly successful in bringing together a diverse range of important scholars from around the world.

“Many people today often assume that everything written in antiquity has already been translated and thoroughly discussed by historians, which is just not true” said Johnson. “Cyril’s writing against Julian the Apostate is just one instance of a highly interesting piece of literature that hasn’t yet been given its due - whether by historians, philosophers, theologians, or classicists. It is exciting to see so much new interest in an old text.”

Cyril, a fifth-century bishop of Alexandria, is most famous historically for the violence that marked his episcopacy in Egypt. “Against Julian” is Cyril’s lengthy (900-page) apologetic work against the Roman emperor Julian, who had renounced the Christian faith and written a critique of Christianity under the title “Against the Galileans.” Cyril’s work provides a defense of Christianity against Julian’s anti-Christian attack. “Against Julian” has not yet been translated into English.

In addition to organizing this workshop, Johnson is working on two other projects related to Cyril’s “Against Julian.” He and collaborator Matthew Crawford from Australian Catholic University are currently preparing the first English translation of Cyril’s “Against Julian.”

Johnson is also working on a monograph that will attempt to explain the significance of “Against Julian.” His book will be titled “Philosophy and Tradition in the Contra Julianum by Cyril of Alexandria (c. 375-444).”

Johnson joined Lee’s faculty in 2010. He specializes in the Greek literature and intellectual culture of the later Roman Empire, particularly in the areas of ethnic and religious identities and of Hellenism. He has held fellowships at the Society of Fellows at the University of Chicago, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the University of Tuebingen, Germany. Johnson’s publications include books published by Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press, over 20 scholarly articles, and many dictionary entries and book reviews.

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