Morwenna took her first degree in Classics ("Greats") in Oxford, then studied there for a PhD in Theology with Keith Ward and Mark Edwards. This work compared ideas about universal salvation in Gregory of Nyssa and Karl Rahner (published by OUP in 1999). Her research on the reception of Gregory continued over her next post-doctoral posts in Oxford (St John's and Wolfson) and Cambridge (Gonville and Caius) and was published in 2007 by OUP as Gregory of Nyssa, Ancient and (Post)modern. In 2006 she was appointed as Lecturer in patristics in the Department of Theology and Religion, University of Exeter, where she currently holds a personal chair in Christian History and Theology. She supervises PhD students on a variety of topics covering the early church and its reception.
Her current project, Art, Craft and Theology , draws on her classical background and on a long-standing interest in the arts and crafts movements of the early twentieth century. In it, she focusses on the way in which fourth century Christian authors describe what they do (as writers, as bishops, as priests) as a techne - an art, craft or skill. This was a disputed concept in antiquity, covering technical and practical expertise, intellectual skills and aesthetic expression. Yet, most readings of these authors either ignore the aesthetic or practical aspects of their work, or separate them off from their intellectual achievements. In order to recover a deeper understanding of what these authors might have meant by describing their calling as a techne, Morwenna will bring the fourth century Christian writings into conversation with writing about the international Arts and Crafts movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and beyond. In this period, there has been a sustained interest in understanding 'art' and 'craft' as overlapping categories: intellectual, practical and aesthetic concerns cannot be separated (as they were, for example, in some nineteenth century notions of high art, versus the applied arts). Indeed, precisely because they ovrelap, there are points of tension between them; tensions which are evident when people characterise what they do as a skill, or an art or a craft. Morwenna will use discussions of these tensions to illuminate our understanding of how the fourth century writers tried to grapple with complexity of their tasks as theologians.