SNSF Postdoc Fellowship Project: In nomine patris, filii et ... avi? Grandparenthood in early Christian families

This study aims for a more cohesive understanding of the social and cultural environment of early Christian families, by complementing historical (i.e. epigraphical, papyrological, literary and legal) documents from the third to the sixth century CE with fragments from the New Testament and apocryphal gospels. More specifically, by leveraging diverse source datasets regarding grandparenthood in Late Antiquity, this project builds on the interdisciplinary approach to the study of ancient daily life introduced by prof. Sabine Huebner at the University of Basel. Surprisingly, despite the increasing amount of scholarship on the notions and culture of grandparenthood, ancient grandparents have hitherto remained under-examined. We ask what can be ascribed to socio-cultural patterns and expectations towards grandparents as well as individual realities and attitudes. What were the daily concerns and difficulties experienced by grandparents in the Christian Mediterranean? How did Christianity influence the bond between grandparent and grandchild? And, what about the grandparents of Jesus himself? Examining multiple ancient perspectives, this study will substantially advance our knowledge regarding the flexibility and inclusivity in early Christian familial mentality. As such, this project aspires to contribute to present-day debates concerning inclusion and elderly care strategies.