History professor writes book

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dr. Robert Winn, associate professor of history at Northwestern College, is the author of a new book about a fourth-century bishop. “Eusebius of Emesa: Church and Theology in the Mid-Fourth Century” has been published by The Catholic University of America Press.

The 277-page book is written for scholars interested in early Christianity and late antiquity in the late Roman Empire. Although not a well-known figure today, Eusebius was recognized at the time as a talented orator and biblical commentator. Winn first learned about him when he was assigned to read a couple of his sermons in Latin as part of his doctoral studies. The book is a substantial revision of Winn’s doctoral dissertation.

The volume introduces readers to the world of Eusebius by situating him in a historical context of places important in his life as well as the people with whom he was connected. After providing a rhetorical study of Eusebius’ sermons, which survive in Latin and Armenian, the author then moves to a theological and historical analysis of the sermons. Winn focuses on the four prominent theological concerns that appear: the natural world and human nature, the nature of God, the divinity and humanity of Christ, and asceticism and the church.

“This book allows us to encounter a voice of a religious leader from the mid-fourth century, a time for which there isn’t much known about its religiosity,” says Winn. “The Roman Empire was becoming more Christian, but Christianity wasn’t yet the official state religion. Eusebius was staking out a religious identity for Christians, addressing issues of what they should believe and how they should live at a time in which they were wondering how much of the existing culture they should participate in.”

Winn’s next research project is to translate some of Eusebius’ sermons from Latin into English and then publish the volume as a companion piece to this book. He will focus on that translation while on sabbatical during the 2012–13 academic year.

A member of Northwestern’s history faculty since 2004, Winn has research interests in religious and intellectual history in late antiquity and the early medieval and early Byzantine periods. He has presented papers at the International Conference on Patristic Studies and published articles in the Journal of Early Christian Studies, Studia Patristica, and The Greek Orthodox Theological Review.

Winn earned doctoral and master’s degrees in early Christian studies at The Catholic University of America. He also holds a master’s degree in history from Miami University of Ohio and a bachelor’s degree in history from Cedarville University. Prior to joining Northwestern’s faculty, he was a visiting professor at Creighton University.

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