New College, University of Edinburgh
Centre for the Study of Christian Origins


About Us

CSCO is the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins at the University of Edinburgh (New College). We are a collection of scholars committed to the study of early Christianity and the world that it was born in. Our interests range from New Testament studies to Patristics, to the world of Late Antiquity, and many of our members have specializations within these fields. More than that, we are interested in encouraging and supporting study in these areas and put on a range of conferences and seminars to this end.

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Upcoming Events


27–29 January 2016: Gunning Lectures – Letters and the Christian Imagination

with Prof Judith Lieu (University of Cambridge)

These are public lectures, to which all are welcome. 


27 January 2016: Gunning Lecture 1 – Early Christian Letters and their World

5:00 pm Martin Hall, New College

Over a century of research into early Christian letters has demonstrated the multiple ways in which they are embedded in contemporary epistolary practice. But there also develops a tradition of Christian letter-writing and letter-collecting, through which we can trace not only the formation of connected communities but also a new social world or symbolic universe.

This Lecture is followed by a drinks Reception in Rainy Hall.


28 January 2016: Gunning Lecture 2 – Letters and Networks of Knowledge

5:00 pm Martin Hall, New College

By the fourth century letters between bishops and other leading ecclesiastical figures shaped networks of power and negotiation, but also helped to create an image of the Christian leader. Yet, although these are distinctive they draw on earlier practices. Early Christianity itself might be viewed as a new ‘network of knowledge’, one in which letters play a creative part in positioning the various participants and in creating channels for the interchange of ideas and of practices.


29 January 2016: Gunning Lecture 2 – Letters and the Formation of Community

11:10 am Martin Hall, New College

Fundamental to letters is that they bring together those who are physically absent from each other: they create community. This was a familiar epistolary truism in the ancient world, one which letters often exploited and reconfigured. Early Christian letters also lend themselves to being examined for the ways in which ideas of ‘being in community’ beyond the immediate location are explored and re-imagined.


16 February 2016: Innovative Learning Week preview performance and discussion of the letter to the Romans

12:00 pm New College

Sarah Agnew, storyteller and PhD student will present a section of her performance of the letter from Paul to the first churches in Rome. A full performance of the letter forms the core of Sarah’s PhD thesis on Biblical Performance Criticism, to be presented in March 2016. After this preview performance, the audience is invited to interact with the letter, posing questions that arise from having heard it aloud. Come and experience an innovative approach to biblical interpretation and an embodied encounter with the last of the letters of St Paul.

Bookings (free)


9 March 2016: Welcome One Another in Love

7:00 pm, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh  

Paul’s hope for the first churches in Rome is expressed in a letter still received in communities the world over. Australian storyteller Sarah Agnew presents a new oral performance of this ancient letter as part of PhD studies at New College, University of Edinburgh. Hearing Paul’s hope for reconciled communities of radical love in the first century, we may hear a hope for love no less urgent for the twenty-first century. This performance represents ground-breaking research in the area of biblical studies, bringing the whole human person to the task of discerning meaning in these ancient writings.

Tickets £5

Information and Bookings