Frazer MacDiarmid


Prof Mark Edwards

Research Overview:

My project seeks to interpret the figure of Ignatius of Antioch through the lens of collective memory. This endeavour takes its lead most directly from Elizabeth Castelli’s Martyrdom and Memory (2004), which draws primarily from the thought of Halbwachs, Durkheim, and Foucault. Her thesis is that ‘memory work’ done by early Christians on the experience of persecution and martyrdom was a form of ‘culture making’, by which Christian identity was thenceforth marked with the memory of the religious suffering of others. My overall focal question is thus an extension of hers, and might be broken down into three parts: given that the act of remembering in community is so important for the development of the early Church and its theology: 1) what is the nature of the memory—Christian and pagan— inherited by Ignatius and his communities, and how is this used in the rhetorical and polemical context of his letters? 2) How does Ignatius construct himself as a figure or type to be remembered by Christian interpreters? 3) How has Ignatius in fact been memorialised throughout Christian history? Most recently, I have been addressing this third question through a detailed analysis of the long recension of his letters, long-neglected because of their status as ‘forgeries’, and how they use Ignatius’ own voice to construct his memory in the dynamics of the 4th century church.

Research Area/s: 

Historical and Systematic Theology

About Me:

I grew up and was educated to secondary level in Auckland, New Zealand, which I still call home. All of my tertiary study has been at Christ Church, Oxford, under the tutelage and supervision of Mark Edwards, who further stoked my interest in theology, particularly the early church. I have been particularly fortunate with scholarships through my time at Oxford: I was awarded an Ertegun Scholarship to study for my MSt, and am now studying for my doctorate through the generosity of the Clarendon Fund.

Select Publications:

MacDiarmid, F., ‘De Utilitate Cantorum: Unitive Aspects of Singing in Early Christian Thought' in The Anglican Theological Review 100.2 (2018), 291-309.

Academic Interests: 

Patristics, early Christianity, New Testament, Oxford Movement.

Academic Related Activities: 

Waynflete Intern in Theology at Magdalen College School, Oxford.


Ertegun Scholarship - MSt; Clarendon Scholarship - DPhil.