Julian Barr
Julian Barr

Project Title: Tertullian's Rhetoric Concerning Uterine Offspring

Principal Advisor: Dr Janette McWilliam

Project Abstract: Current scholarship frequently examines Tertullian’s arguments on unborn children polemically, creating politicised misrepresentations of Tertullian’s perspectives on procreation. My thesis seeks to reverse the problem by contextualising Tertullian’s works concerning the foetus and embryo. Tertullian used unborn children as rhetorical devices, to prove or disprove specific arguments. Scriptural portrayals of children in the womb and Tertullian’s Montanist beliefs influenced his work greatly. Tertullian alternately borrowed adapted and rejected Greek embryological traditions to strengthen his rhetorical agenda. Tertullian dealt with philosophical theories of animation similarly. Women strongly influenced Tertullian’s views on pregnancy. Concerning abortion, Tertullian’s arguments did not remain static over the course of his literary career. He was elaborating upon a pre-existing Christian tradition.

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