May 21, 2024

Berkley professor discusses early Roman identity, being a ‘good Christian’

Author, Susanna Elm, discussed early Roman ideas on identity and Christianity on Monday, Oct. 24.

On Monday, Oct. 24, the University of Tennessee welcomed Susanna Elm, well renowned author, multiple award winner and professor at University of California, Berkeley. Elm covered the eight books of Salvian, a Christian writer in the fifth century in Gual.

Throughout her lecture, Elm discussed the earliest Romans idea of identity and what it meant to be a “good Christian.” She discussed the year of 439 A.D. and how it was a dark and grim time for the early Romans and how they turned to God for answers. Elm said the Romans often contemplated this, questioning, “Why do the good suffer and the bad have it easy?”

Elm described how Salvian’s texts prove God does not favor any type of person.

“Eyes of the Lord watch over the good and bad alike,” she said.

Elm said there is proof in Salvian’s texts that God is indifferent with his judgement and that the idea arose that the people who were questioning God’s judgement should take a look at themselves.

Elm hinted that no one is perfect by quoting a passage from Salvian’s texts by reading, “He who hates with the desire to kill is very close to the one actually killing.”

“The lecture was excellent,” professor of Religion at UT, Dr. Jennifer Collins-Elliot said. “You do not hear much about Salvian and his texts anymore, but this time of early Christianity is crucial, so we must not forget about it. Susanna Elm discussed identity in its earliest form.”

Elm’s current projects include Augustine of Hippo and slavery, the possibility of formulating a theology of economics, late Roman Antioch, elite display and aspects of ancient medicine.

For more information on Susanna Elm, visit the University of California, Berkeley’s website.

Featured image by Kelly Fallon

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

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