Charles “Austin” Rivera works in early Christian literature at the intersection of literary studies and theology. This research encompasses Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Armenian Christianity, with a special emphasis on poetry. He also maintains broader interests in the history of Biblical interpretation and Biblical reception history, theology and literature, and the Wesleyan traditions.
Charles is an elder in the Great Plains conference of the United Methodist Church.
Charles’s dissertation, “The Mirror of Merit,” explores the idea of grace in the writings of Origen of Alexandria and Ephrem the Syrian. These authors, fountainheads of the Greek and Syriac traditions of Christianity, approach the topic of grace in a manner distinct from the Latin tradition which takes its lead from Augustine of Hippo. The questions of free will, conversion, merit, and predestination familiar to traditional western discussions of grace are often invisible in these authors or appear in surprising configurations. Through a close attention to these authors’ biblical interpretation and written artistry, this dissertation will illuminate a neglected aspect of early Christian theology and literature.