This Autumn, the School of English is welcoming several new members of staff, who we’ll be highlighting one by one throughout the semester.
Our next new member of staff to be profiled is Dr. Meredith Warren, whose research focuses on the cultural and theological interactions among the religions of ancient Mediterranean, especially early Judaism and Christianity. In particular, Meredith is interested in how shared cultural understandings of food and eating play a role in ancient narratives, including the Pseudepigrapha, Hellenistic romance novels, and the Gospels.
Meredith’s doctoral work, recently published as My Flesh is Meat Indeed: A Nonsacramental Reading of John 6:51–58 (Fortress 2015), investigates how the Gospel of John makes use of Jewish, Christian, Greek, and Roman attitudes about sacrifice, divinity, and the consumption of human flesh in order to make claims about Jesus’ divinity. This book brings John’s theology into contact with ideas about divinity preserved in the ancient Greek romances such as Chaereas and Callirhoe and An Ephesian Tale.
Her current book project, titled Hierophagy: Transformational Eating in Ancient Literature, examines how characters in literature are transformed by eating otherworldly food. Meredith proposes that hierophagy is a kind of eating found in literature that is transformative in such a way that the participant in such an event becomes associated with another world in the process of the eating. This type of ingestion is found in literature from all over the ancient Mediterranean and as such, reflects the shared cultural understanding of the significance of other-worldly meal experiences. An article emerging from this research, “My Heart Poured Forth Understanding: 4 Ezra’s Fiery Cup as Hierophagic Consumption,” was recently published the journal Studies in Religion.
Meredith will soon be launching and directing a new research centre withing the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS), called “Embodying Religion.” The centre will support inquiry into how religion is experienced through and advertised on the body. Embodying Religion seeks to highlight the physicality of ancient and modern religious experience, from martyrologies’ focus on physical pain and suffering, to the smells, tastes, and sounds that are part and parcel of religious experience, to the sartorial aspects of soteriology.
If you’re interested in learning more about her work, check out her academia.edu page.
Welcome to the SoE, Meredith!