Christian Antiquity

Research Unit History of Church and Theology
Faculty of Theology

Dupont is a Research Professor (BOFZAP, docent) in Christian Antiquity, in the Research Unit History of Church and Theology at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven. He leads a Research Group of ca. 13 researchers, (co-)supervises 9 doctoral students and 4 postdoctoral fellows, and has acted as the (co-)supervisor of 9 completed doctorates. Dupont frequently serves as an external member of doctoral dissertation committees (8 at KU Leuven, 5 abroad). Dupont’s research combines the study of ancient philosophy and Early Christian thought. He is interested in how late-antique theorists addressed an old existential question: What is the relationship between human autonomy and divine heteronomy. His research focuses on divine grace and human freedom in the writings of Augustine of Hippo (354-430). Previous scholarship has portrayed Augustine as exceedingly pessimistic about human nature: to many, Augustine has seemed to believe that humans, by themselves, can achieve nothing good. Dupont has asked whether this grim depiction is correct. The breakthrough in his research came from the rediscovery of an extensive part of Augustine’s work that was previously dismissed by scholars: the sermones ad populum. Dupont’s multidisciplinary approach to these neglected texts has resulted in a new understanding of Augustine’s teachings about the concept of grace.

More broadly, Dupont is interested in Christian sermons as an emerging literary genre. His dissertation, for example, drew scholarly attention to sermons as sources of rhetorically enacted theology and philosophy. Dupont is also co-organiser and co-editor of the Ministerium Sermonis conferences (Leuven, Rome, Malta, Leuven) and resulting publications (IPM, Brepols 2010, 2012, 2017, 2021), which examine the content, transmission, and reception of ancient Christian sermons. Augustine’s political thinking, particularly as developed in what is called the Donatist controversy as well as in Augustine’s massive work, De ciuitate Dei, is another area of Dupont’s interest. Dupont was in charge of The Uniquely African Controversy, a conference and anthology on Donatist North Africa (LAHR 9, Peeters 2014), and together with colleagues Gert Partoens (Arts), and Andrea Robiglio (Philosophy), he is promotor of the interdisciplinary C1-project ‘Magnum opus et arduum’, which studies the political content, transmission history, and Italian-Renaissance reception of De ciuitate Dei. Dupont edited a two-volume work dealing with Augustine’s thought on war and peace (Universitaria Agustiniana, Colombia). Currently Dupont is researching the concepts of sin and grace in ancient North Africa, the topic of his BOFZAP-project. In this domain, he and Mathijs Lamberigts obtained in 2018 an FWO project named Reception of John’s Gospel in North Africa (c. 325-533).