Bristol 'Next Generation' Visiting Researcher Dr Monnica Klockener, University of Munster, Germany

Monnica KlockenerDealing with Death in Early Christianity

2 - 21 October 2022


Dr Klöckener is currently a senior teaching and research fellow in Early Christianity and Patristics at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster in Germany. Her research interests are in the fields of Early Christianity, Death and Dying, and Consolation Letters. Former research of hers has focussed the history of exegesis of Origen, John Chrysostom, and Augustine. She also is working on topics in Higher Education Didactics, especially on Academic Writing and Didactic of Church History.

Her dissertation focussed on the epistemological, pedagogical, and spiritual dimensions of the exegesis of John 4 in Origen, John Chrysostom, and Augustine (Die Frau am Jakobsbrunnen in altkirchlicher Johannesexegese. Erkenntnis, Pädagogik und Spiritualität bei Origenes, Johannes Chrysostomus und Augustinus. Münster 2021 (Adamantiana 19)). Her most recent publication is in the field of academic writing in theology, directed at students (Schreiben im Theologiestudium. Opladen/Toronto 2022 (Schreiben im Studium 12)).

Dr Klöckener is a member of several professional associations and university committees, e.g. the steering committee of the Münster interdisciplinary Graduate School of Ancient Cultures (,Board member of the Münster Centre for History and Culture of the Eastern Mediterranean (, , and Vice Chairwoman of the ECR Group in Church History (Nachwuchsgruppe der Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Kirchenhistoriker und Kirchenhistorikerinnen im deutschen Sprachraum, AGKG).

Reserach summary

The project “Dealing with Death in Early Christianity”, which of course also has real-life ramifications, is of high academic relevance far beyond Theology and Religious Studies where is has occupied pride of place. It is relevant in all disciplines reflecting on the conditions of human life, including Philosophy, Classics, Medieval Literature, Medical Humanities, and Anthropology, all fields where Bristol has strong clusters of experts. Reading core ancient texts from such an interdisciplinary perspective will open up new trajectories of interpreting them as well as unlocking their timeless potential for a wide range of disciplines: e.g. in Classics, this could initiate new translations of several relevant antique sources; in Anthropology, the insights gained could be transferred to, and compared with, other historical and cultural contexts. Bristol offers a highly attractive environment for interdisciplinary research around curiosity-driven thematic issues in Ancient Cultures and beyond.

I intend to focus especially on three fields within the topic of Death:

a)     The Reflexion of Death and Dying in Early Christianity: focus on the Christian perspective of death, analysing both its parallels with, and distinct differences from, pagan and Jewish notions.

b)     Dealing with a pandemic situation in Early Christianity: the COVID pandemic taught us an experience that only two years ago we could not imagine. In the age of Early Christianity, the Roman Empire was also dealing with a pandemic situation, as witnessed in Cyprian’s De mortalitate.

c)     Soul-care for the bereaved: what do consolatory letters focus on in order to console their addressees and for which purpose?

Dr Klockener is hosted by Professor Karla Pollman, Classics and Ancient History and Religion and Theology.

Planned events include:

Open seminar
Death and Dying in Early Christianity

Departmental seminar
Soul-care for the bereaved. Jermone's and Paulinus' consolatory letters to Pammachius

Postgraduate seminar/reading 
Reading Cyprian's De Mortalitate. Dealing with a pandemic situation in Early Christianity