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Current Postgraduate and Ph.D.-Research


Helen Cashell-Moran, B.A. (Maynooth), M.Th. (Maynooth)HC

Supervisor: Benjamin Wold

The Relationship between “Wisdom” and “Apocalypticism” in 4QInstruction and James

Helen Cashell is a Ph.D. student working in the area of early Jewish and Christian studies. Her research focuses primarily on the significance of one scroll from the Dead Sea for the historical and literary interpretation of the early Christian letter of James. 4QInstruction, a second-century BCE Jewish text written in Hebrew, has been seen to break the mould of current categories between “wisdom” and “apocalyptic” and yet the way these two views are assessed is on-going and nascent. In her thesis, Helen offers an original study on how these perceptions, which were previously considered conflicting, blend together in 4QInstruction. This analysis then provides new material for the study of James. Like 4QInstruction, the letter of James is seen to combine worldviews that when merged are unusual to the point of confusion. By giving sustained attention to form-critical questions and genre study, she seeks to offer original research and a fresh interpretation of two ancient religious documents. This in turn will make a contribution to patterns of religious thinking common to ancient Judaism and earliest Christianity.

Catherine Lynch, B.A.

Supervisor: Cathriona Russell

Subsidiarity. A Resource for Modelling Sustainability

Subsidiarity, a central constitutional principle of the European Union, has its origins in and is expressed in Catholic social teaching. As understood in Catholic social teaching, the principle recognises individual freedom, defends participation in society and stipulates that the many forms of social association across society should enhance individual and social flourishing. It therefore offers a valuable resource for modelling sustainability, which presents possibilities for integrating individual, local and regional expressions of human flourishing with the social good, at global and international levels. It presents the possibility of reconciling the objectives of sustainable development with the plurality of forms of good practice and has the potential to engender collective action at regional, global and international levels towards more sustainable practices.
This research project will examine the principle’s antecedents in theology and philosophy and compare it with Amartya Sen's capability approach to human development and Paul Ricoeur's ethical vision, in order to assess its potential and its application in collaborative action.

Jill McArdle, B.A. (Hons, TCD), Sch. (TCD)JM

Supervisor: Maureen Junker-Kenny

Practical Reasoning and transnational justice. Onora O’Neill’s Kantian cosmopolitanism in dialogue with John Rawls’s argumentation on justice

The thesis engages in a comparison of ‘international’ and ‘cosmopolitan’ accounts of justice, analysing the account of international justice set forth by John Rawls in The Law of Peoples and Onora O’Neill’s Kantian cosmopolitan alternative. Its primary research question relates to the role of boundaries in Rawls’s thesis, in particular whether Rawls’s thesis can offer justification on matters of justice that is capable of extending beyond the boundaries of liberal democracies. O'Neill's thesis suggests that a non-instrumental account of practical reasoning is needed to defend the priority of agency and obligation; it is more capable of defending extensive principles of justice than a preference and rights-based approach to agency. On a practical level, this critique will be applied to current issues of global justice, in particular of global economic justice. The contribution of theological ethical discourse will be assessed with regard to the question of the relationship between universal principles and their concretisation in particular traditions and contexts.

Michael Morris, B.A., M.A. MM

Supervisor: Benjamin Wold

Apotropaic Traditions in Early Jewish Prayer and the Synoptic Gospels

Michael Morris is a Ph.D. student working on ancient Jewish texts which are concerned with religious worldviews that include belief in the existence of demonic beings. When examining early Jewish anti-demonic expressions, particularly petitions and incantations, two specific traditions were in use: apotropaic and exorcistic. Whereas exorcistic methods sought to relieve a person from demonic affliction, apotropaic formulae intended to prevent demonic harm by “warding off” evil spirits. The first part of Michael’s project is an assessment of ancient apotropaic texts preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls and pseudepigrapha. This study highlights the nuanced nature of apotropaic prayers, and also the specific eschatologies associated with their broader construction of complex demonologies. The second part of his thesis brings the issue of apotropaic traditions to bear on the synoptic gospels. While there have been studies on apotropaic prayers from the period, the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke have not been systematically studied with this aspect of ancient demonology in view. The presence of these tradition raises questions about the demonology of each evangelist and, in turn, their eschatological perspectives.

Sarah Shier, B.A. (Hons., TCD)SS

Supervisor: Benjamin Wold

A Conflict of Gender in the Book of Revelation

Sarah Shier’s Ph.D. thesis focusses upon the conflict between the Author of the Book of Revelation and the Prophetess of Thyatira, which is inscribed in Revelation as the conflict between the Son of God and the Woman Jezebel (Rev 2:18-29). Sarah’s research aims to discover the underlying causes of this conflict and to determine whether or not the opposite genders of the two protagonists have a bearing upon it. Special interest is given to possible reasons for the use of the violent and sexualised language in which the attack upon Jezebel is depicted. She interprets the conflict by means of a comparative literary analysis and through the lens of a feminist hermeneutics of suspicion and transformation. The influence upon Revelation of the socio-historical situation and cultural and religious environment in which it was written is an important aspect of her study. The use of this methodology enables her to re-read the multivalent literary allusions used by the Author of Revelation and to reconstruct the conflict from the point of view of the Prophetess. An important result of this reading of the conflict is a new insight into the roles, beliefs, practices and rivalries of women and men in the church of late first-century C.E. Asia Minor.

Geoffrey R.J. Wharton, M.Phil (Cantab.), Sch. (TCD) GW

Supervisor: Benjamin Wold

Veils and Scales: The Significance of Concealment and Obduracy Motifs for Issues of Conflict and Identity in the New Testament

Geoffrey Wharton is a Ph.D. student in New Testament studies within the Department of Religions and Theology and is currently a Ph.D. research resident in the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute. His research interests are primarily to do with issues pertaining to the earliest stages of Jewish-Christian relations, focusing specifically on the various means by which distinct religious identities were forged within (so-called “sectarian”) Jewish thought of the Hellenistic and Roman periods, and how the early church, as a product of this cultural milieu, used and adapted these methods. His research examines the role of obduracy themes (e.g., blindness and deafness as polemical metaphors for a lack of understanding on the part of an “other”) and divine concealment motifs within the New Testament, assessing their significance and impact as rhetorical devices in the context of religious disputes.


Last updated 23 February 2018 (Email).