Creation, Conflict and Cosmos: Plenary 2 (Ben Myers)

Ben Myers gave what, if the length of applause at the session was anything to go by, was a brilliant presentation on "Christ, Adam and the Self: Revisiting Augustine’s Interpretation of Romans". The paper relates to Ben's wider project on Augustine as a reader of the Psalms, and aimed to contribute to a certain 'rehabilitation' of Augustine who, for many Pauline scholars who have read Krister Stendahl's reading of Augustine as the theologian of the 'introspective conscience', is often read as someone who imposes his own hangups onto Paul.

Ben set out to show how Augustine's account of the self is not a pre-determined theological imposition on the text of Romans, but arises out of Augustine's struggles to understand the letter in the late 390s culminating in the Confessions.

The two garden scenes in the Confessions are, Ben argues, essentially an autobiographical rendition of the narratives of Adam and Christ in Romans 5 and thus Augustine's account of the corporate, relational, non-autonomous self is an account reached by interpretative work on the text of Romans. Thus the account of the self in the Confessions is not dominated by the introspective conscience, but instead by the only two possible personae that shape human identity: the face of Adam and the face of Christ,