ISM Fellows in Conversation | Interdisciplinary Approaches to Studying Augustine with Marie-Ange Rakotoniaina

April 9, 2021

2020-2021 ISM fellow and liturgical scholar Marie-Ange Rakotoniaina discusses interdisciplinary approaches to studying Augustine with ISM student Jake Cunliffe (M.Div. ‘22) as part of the ISM Fellows in Conversation Podcast.

Introduction by Clare Byrne (M.A.R. religion & music ‘22)

Dr. Marie-Ange Rakotoniaina was riding the train into Paris as a university student when she had a scholarly and spiritual revelation. Years later, it became part of the foundation for her ISM Fellowship research project. Delving into the poetry of time within early Christianity, Rakotoniaina is currently researching Augustine of Hippo’s theological writings on the Sabbath and the concept of spiritual rest.

In conversation with second-year Master of Divinity student Jake Cunliffe, Rakotoniaina details her early discoveries and how Augustine re-envisioned the Sabbath in a wealth of spiritual imageries, including a sabbath within the heart. She says, “when Augustine described the sabbath as the chamber of the heart, it is an invitation to find heart within, to come back to one’s heart, and to unveil its landscape.”

Dr. Rakotoniaina brings a mystical spirit to her research and teaching. In speaking to Christian images of rest, she proposes refreshing motifs for scholarship as well: spontaneity, imagination, listening, and silence. She received her Ph.D. in Religion from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in 2020. In addition to her ISM Fellowship research, she is currently teaching courses exploring the history of early Christian liturgy and its architectures of time. She recently curated an international conference at the ISM called Keeping the Sabbath from Antiquity to Modernity: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Time, Rest, and Cosmos. In addition to her work on Augustine, she recently completed an article on images of baptism and immersion from the Christian house church and Jewish synagogue at Dura-Europos.