Meet our new Phd Fellow

Sara Contini is a new PhD fellow in our ITN. Her project focuses on Origen and Bernard of Clairvaux, a work which she carries our at the University of Reading.

2018.01.24 | Birgitte Bøgh

Sara Contini

I have studied Classical Philology in “Sapienza” University of Rome, my hometown, where I graduated in March 2017. My thesis dealt with the influence of the figure of the saviour and the description of the spiritual war between virtue and vice in Origen’s Homilies on Joshua and Homilies on Judges on the notion of holy kingdom in Eusebius of Caesarea’s corpus on Constantine the Great.

I have joined the program in November 2017 and my supervisor is Prof. Karla Pollmann from the University of Reading. The aim of the research is to assess the hypothesis that Bernard of Clairvaux' works, despite being firmly set in the Augustinian tradition, are also deeply influenced by the idea of the decisive power of free will and of voluntary conversion that can be traced back, directly or indirectly, to Origen and especially to his parenetic and moral works. Thus, I intend to draw a comparison between Bernard's treaties, especially De gradibus humilitatis et superbiae, and Origen's collection of homilies on the Hexateuch. In particular, Origen’s preaching on the theme of humility as true dignity is theologically grounded in the doctrine of the role of the Christ as a mediator with humanity through his νοῦς, perfectly united with the divine λόγoς (De Princ. II 6). This and other controversial points of Origen’s speculation are expressed in the homilies in a way that is less explicit and problematic than in the treaties and would therefore sound more acceptable to Bernard.

A recognisable continuity between the two authors on the theme of humility, with its anthropological and soteriologic implications, would show an aspect of Bernard's reception of Origen that creates an interesting dialectic with Augustine's doctrine, involving a series of works by Origen that Bernard certainly knew but whose influence on him has not been fully investigated yet.