Department of Ancient History

Professor Bronwen Neil

Professor of Ancient History, Macquarie University Professor Bronwen Neil
BA (Hons I) Qld, MATR (Durham), PhD (Australian Catholic Uni), FAHA

Contact Details:
Telephone: +61 2 9850 7933
Fax: +61 2 9850 8240
Office: W6A 317


Bronwen Neil is Professor of Ancient History at Macquarie, and member of the Macquarie University Ancient Cultures Research Centre. She studied Linguistics, Classics and Ancient History at the University of Queensland (1987-1991), before undertaking a Master of Arts in Theological Research at Durham University, UK (1997/1998) and completing her PhD at Australian Catholic University in 1999. Subsequently, she joined the Centre for Early Christian Studies there (2000-2015), serving as Associate Director (2014-2015). From 2001-2005 she held an ARC Postgraduate Research Fellowship, while teaching in the School of Theology at ACU. In 2010 she was appointed the inaugural holder of the Burke Senior Lectureship in Ecclesiastical Latin, and in 2015 was promoted to Associate Professor. She was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship (2014-2018) and joined Macquarie University as Professor of Ancient History in 2017.

Neil is also a Research fellow in the Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, University of South Africa, an honorary research associate in the Sydney College of Divinity; and visiting research fellow in the School of Languages and Linguistics, Australian National University. She was elected to the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2014, and is immediate past president of the Australian Association for Byzantine Studies.    

Her fields of research are Byzantine social, cultural and intellectual history; Patristics; Late Antiquity; Byzantine Greek; Eastern Christianity; the Early Middle Ages and Latin language and literature.

Among her current research projects are:

  • Dreams, Prophecy and Violence from Early Christianity to the Rise of Islam (ARC Future Fellowship, see Links below), a study of the use of dreams and their interpretation to promote or resolve interreligious and intrareligious violence, from 400-1000 CE.
  • A book on Letter Writing in Early Christianity, co-authored with Pauline Allen (Cambridge University Press, contracted).
  • B. Neil, D. Costache and K. Wagner, Alexandrian Approaches to Dreams and Virtue, in preparation.
  • Memories of Utopia; Destroying the Past to Create the Future, a Discovery Project on the rewriting and rebuilding of ancient written and visual monuments in the fifth to seventh centuries, with the ideological agenda of returning to a mythical golden age.

Awards and Grants

2017-2019       ARC Discovery Project "Memories of Utopia; Destroying the Past to Create the Future". $396 K. Lead Investigator. Cis: Pauline Allen and Wendy Mayer. PI: Chris de Wet, UNISA

2014-2018       ARC Future Fellowship Level 3 Dreams, Prophecy and Violence from Early Christianity to Early Islam. $843K. Sole investigator.

2014-2016       ARC Discovery Project Lead Investigator. "Negotiating Religious Conflict Between Rome and Constantinople through Letter-Writing in the Seventh Century, An Era of Crisis". Co-CI: Pauline Allen. ($150K)

2014-2015       Australian Catholic University Research Funding ($250K) for research program: "Agency and Power in Early Christian Social Issues". Neil was co-ordinator of Project 1: 'Negotiating Ecumenical Conflict from 400-700CE'.

2010-2012       ARC Discovery Project chief investigator, "Crisis management in late antiquity: the evidence of episcopal letters". Co-CI: Pauline Allen. ($262K)

2009                Von Humboldt Stiftung Fellowship. University of Bonn. 45000 euros.

2006-2009       ARC Discovery Project chief investigator, "Poverty and welfare in late antiquity". Co-CIs: Pauline Allen and Wendy Mayer ($325K).

2001-2005      ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship, ACU, "The politics of hagiography in ninth-century Rome".

1999-2001      ARC Large Grant, ACU: "The Life of Maximus the Confessor, Recension 2". Senior Research Associate (0.66).

1997-1998       Commonwealth Award. Durham University. (Tuition fees and stipend for MATR).

1996-1998       ARC Large Grant, ACU: "The Life of Maximus the Confessor, Recension 3".



  • B. Neil and P. Allen, Negotiating Ecumenical Conflict in Rome and Constantinople (500-700 CE): The Epistolary Sources, Bibliothèque d'Antiquité tardive (Turnhout: Brepols), submitted 20.12.16.
  • (with A. Brown) (eds) Byzantine Culture in Translation, Byzantina Australiensia 21 (Leiden: Brill), submitted 15.1.17.
  • P. Allen and B. Neil (eds), The Oxford Handbook to Maximus Confessor (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).
  • B. Neil and P. Allen (intro and trans), The Letters of Gelasius I: Micromanager and Pastor of the Church of Rome, Adnotationes 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2014) 266 pp. 50% Neil.
  • P. Allen and B. Neil, Crisis Management in Late Antiquity (410-590 CE): A Survey of the Evidence from Episcopal Letters, Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 121 (Leiden: Brill, 2013).
  • (with L. Garland) (eds), Questions of Gender in Byzantine Society (Abingdon: Ashgate, 2013).
  • (with M. dal Santo) (eds), The Brill Companion to Gregory the Great (Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2013).
  • (with W. Mayer) (eds), Religious Conflict from Early Christianity to Early Islam, Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte 121 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013). Reissued in paperback, 2016.
  • Leo the Great, The Early Church Fathers (London-New York: Routledge, 2009).
  • (with P. Allen and W. Mayer), Preaching Poverty in Late Antiquity: Perceptions and Realities, Kirchen- und Theologiegeschichte 28 (Leipzig: EVA, 2009). (40 % Neil).
  • Seventh-Century Popes and Martyrs: the Political Hagiography of Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Studia Antiqua Australiensia 2 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2006).
  • (with P. Allen) (eds.), The Life of Maximus the Confessor - Recension 3, Early Christian Studies 6 (Sydney: St Pauls, 2003).
  • (with G. D. Dunn and L. Cross) (eds) Prayer and Spirituality 3: Liturgy and Life, proceedings of the international conference Prayer and Spirituality, Melbourne, 10-14 July 2002 (Sydney: St Pauls, 2003).
  • (with P. Allen) introd. and trans. Maximus the Confessor and his Companions: Documents from Exile, Oxford Early Christian Texts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).
  • (with P. Allen) (eds) Scripta Saeculi VII Vitam Maximi Confessoris Illustrantia, Corpus Christianorum Series Graeca 39 (Turnhout - Leuven: Brepols, 1999).

Book Chapters

  • 'Apocalypse then: dreams and visions in Byzantine apocalyptic in the context of conflict'. In Heather Jackson and Elizabeth Minchin, eds, Materiality and Text: Essays on the Ancient World in honour of G.W. Clarke, Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology (Uppsala: in press).
  • 'Mary as Intercessor in Byzantine Theology' in C. Maunder, ed., Oxford Handbook of Mary (Oxford: forthcoming). Submitted 4 June 2016.
  • 'Gelasius I', in Philip Reynolds, ed., First Millennium Western Law and Christianity, Law and Christianity Series (Cambridge: forthcoming), submitted 3 June 2016.
  •  'Gendered Dreams in Byzantine Monastic Literature,' in Megan Moore (ed.), Gender in the Mediterranean (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, in press).
  •  'Leo Magnus' in Patristic Sermons: The Latin West, eds. J. Leemans and A. Dupont, The New History of the Sermon (Leiden: Brill, in press) Ch. 17.
  • 'The Ascension Homilies of Leo the Great', in R. Bishop, J. Leemans and H. Tamas (eds), Preaching After Easter: Mid-Pentecost Ascension and Pentecost, Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 136 (Brill: Leiden, 2016) 373-385.
  • 'Papal Letters and Letter Collections', in C. Sogno, B. Storin and E. Watts (eds), Late Antique Letter Collections. An Introduction and Reference Guide. (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2016) 449-466.
  • 'Leo the Great's Paschal Homilies: A Brief History of Salvation', in Pascha nostrum Christus. Essays in Honour of Raniero Cantalamessa OFM Cap, eds. P. F. Beatrice and B. Pouderon, Théologie historique 123 (Paris: Beauchesne, 2016) 277-290.
  • '"Silence Is Also Annulment": Veiled and Unveiled Speech in Seventh-Century Martyr Commemorations', in H. Baltussen and P. Davis (eds), The Art of Veiled Speech. Self-Censorship from Aristophanes to Hobbes (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015) 233-250.
  •  'Crisis in the Letters of Gelasius I (492-96): A New Model of Crisis Management?', in G. D. Dunn (ed.), The Bishop of Rome in Late Antiquity (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015) 155-74.
  • 'Divine Providence and Gnomic Will Before Maximus', in P. Allen and B. Neil (eds), The Oxford Handbook to Maximus Confessor (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015) 235-249.
  • 'Dream Interpretation and Christian Identity in Late-Antique Rome and Byzantium', in Shaping Christian Identity from the Roman Empire to Byzantium, eds. W. Mayer and G. D. Dunn, Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 132 (Leiden: Brill, 2015) 321-341.
  • 'Continuities and changes in the practice of letter-collecting in Late Antiquity',in B. Neil and P. Allen (eds), Collecting Early Christian Letters: From the Apostle Paul to Late Antiquity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 3-17.
  • 'De Profundis: The Letters and Archives of Pelagius I of Rome (556-561)', in B. Neil and P. Allen (eds), Collecting Early Christian Letters: From the Apostle Paul to Late Antiquity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 206-220.
  • 'Regarding the Empress on the Throne: Representations of Irene', in B. Neil and L. Garland (eds), Questions of Gender in Byzantine Society (Abingdon: Ashgate, 2013), 113-131.
  • 'An Introduction to Questions of Gender in Byzantium', in Neil and Garland, Questions of Gender, 1-10.
  •  'The Papacy in the Age of Gregory the Great', in B. Neil and M. dal Santo (eds), The Brill Companion to Gregory the Great (Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2013), 3-27.
  •  'The Earliest Greek Understandings of Islam: John of Damascus and Theophanes the Confessor', in Mayer and Neil, Religious Conflict, 215-228.
  • 'A Crisis of Orthodoxy: Leo I's Fight against the "Deadly Disease" of Heresy', in D.C. Sim and P. Allen (eds), Ancient Jewish and Christian Texts as Crisis Management Literature.  Thematic Studies from the Centre for Early Christian Studies, Library of New Testament Studies 445 (London-New York: T&T Clark Continuum, 2012), 144-158.
  • 'Leo the Great's Preaching on Sun Worship', in Rituel und Liturgie in der alten Kirche, eds. W. Kinzig and U. Volp (Leuven: Peeters, 2011), 127-40.
  • (with P. Allen), 'The Poor in Psalms: Augustine's Discourse on Poverty in Enarrationes in Psalmos', in Meditations of the Heart. Essays in honour of Andrew Louth, eds. C. Harrison, A. Casiday and A. Andreopoulos, Studia Theologiae Traditionis (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011), 181-204.
  • 'From Tristia to Gaudia: the exile and martyrdom of Pope Martin I', in J. Leemans (ed.), Martyrdom and Persecution in Late Antique Christianity, Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 241 (Leuven: Peeters, 2010), 179-194.
  • 'The Politics of Hagiography in Ninth-Century Rome', Text and Transmission in Medieval Europe, ed. C. Bishop (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007), 58-75.
  • 'Towards Defining a Christian Culture: the Christian transformation of classical literature', in Cambridge History of Christianity vol. 2: Constantine to c. 600, eds. A. Casiday and F. Norris (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007) 317-342.
  • W. Mayer with B. Neil, John Chrysostom. The Cult of the Saints (New York: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2006) 265-280.
  • 'The Introduction of Old Church Slavonic to the First Bulgarian Empire: the rôle of SS. Cyril and Methodius', Philomathestatos. Studies in Greek Patristic and Byzantine Texts Presented to Jacques Noret for his Sixty-Fifth Birthday, eds B. Janssens, B. Roosen, and P. Van Deun, Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 137 (Leuven: Peeters, 2004) 455-473.

Journal Articles

  • 'Dream interpretation and its application in religious traditions: From early Byzantium to contemporary fundamentalism', Neotestamentica (submitted January 2017).
  • 'The Theotokos as Selective Intercessor', Analogia 1 (2016):29-40.
  • (with D. Luckensmeyer) B. Neil, 'Reading First Thessalonians as a Consolatory Letter in Light of Seneca and Ancient Handbooks on Letter-Writing', New Testament Studies 60.2 (2016) 31-48.
  • 'Studying Dream Interpretation from Early Christianity to the Rise of Islam', Journal of Religious History 40.1 (2016) 17-39.
  • 'Theophanes Confessor on the Arab Conquest: The Latin Version by Anastasius Bibliothecarius', in Colloque Théophane / The Chronicle of Theophanes: Sources, Composition and Transmission, Proceedings of the Paris Colloquium, 12-14 September 2012, eds. F. Montinaro and M. Jankowiak, Travaux et mémoires 19.1 (2016) 149-158.
  • 'Death and the Bishop of Rome. From Hormisdas to Sabinian', Scrinium 11 (2015) 109-121.
  •  'Dreams in Synesius of Cyrene as a Pathway to the Divine', Phronema 30.2 (2015) 19-36.
  • 'Dreams and Dream Interpretation in Fifth-Century Alexandria: Dreams as an Approach to God', Patristica 18 (2014) 103-20 (in Japanese).
  • 'Divine Providence in Gregory of Nyssa and his Theological Milieu', Phronema 27/2 (2012) 35-51.
  • 'Crisis and Wealth in Byzantine Italy: the Libri Pontificales of Rome and Ravenna', Byzantion 82 (2012) 279-303.
  • (with P. Allen), 'Displaced Persons: Reflections for Late Antiquity on a Contemporary Crisis', Pacifica 24 (2011) 29-42.
  • 'Models of Gift Giving in the Preaching of Leo the Great', Journal of Early Christian Studies 18:2 (2010) 225-259.
  • 'Blessed is Poverty: Leo the Great on Almsgiving', Sacris Erudiri 46 (2007) 143-156.
  • 'The Miracles of Saints Cyrus and John', Journal of the Australian Early Medieval Association 2 (2006) 183-193.
  • 'Exploring the Limits of Literal Exegesis: Augustine's reading of Gen 1:26' Pacifica 19 (2006) 144-155.
  • '"The Blessed Passion of Holy Love": Maximus the Confessor's Spiritual Psychology', Australian E-Journal of Theology, Issue 2, February 2004,
  • '"It is I who am a man, you who are women": Sayings of the Desert Mothers', Women Church. An Australian Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 35 (2004) 11-15.
  • 'The Cult of Pope Clement in Ninth-Century Rome', Ephemerides Liturgicae 117 (2003) 103-113.
  • 'Rufinus' translation of the Epistola Clementis ad Jacobum', Augustinianum 43 (2003) 25-39.
  • 'The Western Reaction to the Council of Nicaea II', Journal of Theological Studies ns 51 (2000) 533-552.
  • 'Anastasius Bibliothecarius' Translations of Two Byzantine Liturgical Commentaries' Ephemerides Liturgicae 114 (2000) 329-346.
  • 'The Lives of Pope Martin I and Maximus the Confessor: Some Reconsiderations of Dating and Provenance', Byzantion 68 (1998) 91-109.

Papers in Published Conference Proceedings

  • 'Papal Letters to the East (475-514) in the Collectio Avellana', Second International Avellana Conference, ed. A. Evers, Loyola University, Rome, 6-7 March 2013 (Chicago: Loyola University Press, in press).
  • 'Byzantine Studies in Australia in the New Millennium', Proceedings of the 23rd International Congress of Byzantine Studies, Belgrade, 22-27 August 2016, Plenary Papers (Belgrade, 2016) 333-339.
  • 'Patristics in Australia: Current Status and Future Potential', Patristics in the 21st Century, 50th Anniversary Conference of the International Association for Patristic Studies, Hebrew University, 25-27 June 2013, Jerusalem (Leuven: Peeters, 2015) 145-161.
  • 'The Decretals of Gelasius I: Making Canon Law in Late Antiquity', in Lex et Religio, Incontro at Rome, 10-12 May 2012, Studium Ephemerides Augustinianum 135 (Rome: Augustinianum, 2013), 657-668.
  • 'Imperial Benefactions to the Fifth-Century Roman Church', in Basileia: Essays on Imperium and Culture in honour of E.M. and M.J. Jeffreys, eds G. Nathan and L. Garland, Byzantina Australiensia 17 (Brisbane: Australian Association of Byzantine Studies, 2011) 55-66.
  • 'Spiritual peace and civic harmony: Leo the Great's Homily 95', in D. Luckensmeyer and P. Allen (eds), Studies of Religion and Politics in the Early Christian Centuries, Early Christian Studies 13 (Strathfield NSW: St Pauls Press, 2010) 263-286.
  • 'Blessed are the Rich: Leo the Great and the Roman Poor', Studia Patristica 44 (2010) 533-547.
  • 'Commemorating Pope Martin 1: his trial in Constantinople', Studia Patristica 39 (2006) 77-82.
  • 'On True Humility: an anonymous letter on poverty and the female ascetic', in Prayer and Spirituality in the Early Church 4: The Spiritual Life, eds. P. Allen, W. Mayer and L. Cross (Strathfield: St Pauls, 2006) 233-246.
  • 'Narrating the Trials and Death in Exile of Pope Martin I and Maximus the Confessor', in Byzantine Narrative. Essays in Honour of Roger Scott, ed. J. Burke, Byzantine Australiensia 16 (Melbourne: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, 2006) 71-83.
  • 'Two Views on Vice and Virtue: Augustine of Hippo and Maximus the Confessor', Prayer and Spirituality 3: Liturgy and Life (Sydney: St Pauls, 2003) 261-271.
  • 'The Greek Life of Maximus the Confessor (BHG 1234) and its Three Recensions', Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Conference on Patristic Studies held in Oxford 1999, Studia Patristica 36 (2001) 46-53.
  • 'Neo-Platonic Influence on Augustine's Conception of the Ascent of the Soul in De quantitate animae', Prayer and Spirituality in the Early Church 2, eds. P. Allen, W. Mayer and L. Cross (Brisbane: Australian Catholic University, 1999) 197-215.


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