Syllabus for a general education class on sacred spaces and religion in the Greco-Roman world.
I am an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies in the Department of Humanities at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. I teach courses in Christian Origins, Religion & Gender, Religion & Nature, and the interrelated histories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. My current research explores early Christian theorizations of nonhuman bodies – particularly those of evil “demons” – and how such conceptualizations impacted the construction and ritual performance of the early Christian body. My other research interests include topics in gender/sexuality studies, ecocriticism, posthumanism, and ritual studies.
I am a Ph.D. candidate in New Testament and Early Christian Studies in the Department of Religion at Rice University, working under April DeConick, along with Niki Clements, Matthias Henze, and Scott McGill. I arrived at Rice after taking an M.A. in New Testament and Christian Origins at Duke University under Mark Goodacre. I currently serve on the Graduate Advisory Board for Rice’s Center for Teaching Excellence. I also work as lead copy editor for Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies and have recently joined the faculty at The Women’s Institute of Houston. My research focuses on ancient Mediterranean religion in the Greco-Roman period, with particular interests in freelance religious experts and their use of medical theories and the Romanization of Christianity.
I am currently the Robert A. Oden Postdoctoral Fellow for Innovation in the Humanities and Judaism at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. My interest focuses on questions of textuality, materiality, and liturgy in late antique Judaism and Christianity. In addition, I joined the editorial board of the Ancient Jew Review as the deputy Judaism editor in fall 2018. A short piece about my dissertation, which distills some of my other research interests, can be found here.
Principally trained in both early Christianity and early Judaism, I approach religion in antiquity from an interdisciplinary perspective that challenges category assumptions about early Christian and Jewish literature. In my research and teaching, my goal is to showcase the intricacies of shared cosmological expectations among the communities of the ancient Mediterranean. I write about the intersection of cultural expectations in narratives from the Greco-Roman period, across religious boundaries, especially narrative-level rituals. My first book, My Flesh is Meat Indeed (Fortress; 2015) evaluates how John 6:51c–58 contributes to the gospel’s presentation of Jesus as divine in light of Hellenistic attitudes about sacrifice, divinity, and the consumption of human flesh. My next book-length project, Hierophagy: Transformational Eating in Ancient Literature, explores how performative consumption effects transformation in ancient Mediterranean narratives.
My research focuses on the literature, law, and social history of the rabbinic movement. In particular, I am interested in how rabbinic food regulations enact and maintain distinct identities. I am currently writing a book entitled Rabbinic Drinking: What Beverages Teach Us About Rabbinic Literature (University of California Press; forthcoming in February 2020) and co-editing a volume entitled Feasting and Fasting: The History and Ethics of Jewish Food (New York University Press; forthcoming in December 2019).
Currently the Bothmer Fellow in Greek and Roman Art at the Metropolitan Museum, my research explores the role that material and visual culture played in the Jewish experience of the late ancient Roman world. I received my B.A. in Ancient Mediterranean Religions from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (2008), and went on to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem before receiving an M.A. (2012) and Ph.D. (2017) in the History of Judaism from Duke University. I am an experienced instructor in Hebrew Bible and Jewish history from the Israelite period to Late Antiquity with an emphasis on the Greco-Roman World. I also have expertise in material and visual culture, archaeology and anthropology. I have archaeological field experience from important Roman period sites in Israel, and am a member of the publication team for the Duke excavations at Sepphoris. My dissertation research involved several enjoyable summers on site documenting and photographing in Rome and Beth She’arim. Having concluding my current research on Jewish sarcophagus patrons, I have begun work on a monograph more broadly exploring additional media of Jewish visual culture in Late Antiquity as evidence of cultural interaction and change. I am also developing a digital project that seeks to virtually reconstruct and reopen the destroyed Jewish catacombs of Monteverde.
Purity, Community, and Ritual in Early Christian Literature investigates the meaning of purity, purification, defilement, and disgust for Christian writers, readers, and listeners from the first to third centuries. Anthropological and sociological works over the past decades have demonstrated how purity and defilement rituals, practices, and discourses harness the power of a raw emotion in order to shape and manipulate cultural structures. I build on such theories to explain how early Christian writers drew on ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman traditions on purity and defilement, using them to create new types of community, form Christian identity, and articulate the relationship between body, sin, and ritual. I discuss early Christian purity issues under several headings: dietary law, death defilement, purity of the heart, defilement of outsiders, and purity of the community. Analysis of the motivations shaping the development of each area of discourse reveals two major considerations: polemical and substantive. Thus, Christian writing on dietary law and death defilement is essentially polemical, constructing Christian identity by marking the purity practices and beliefs of others as false. Concerning the subjects of baptism, eucharist, and penance, however, the discourse turns inwards and becomes more substantive, seeking to create and maintain theories of ritual and human nature coherent with the theological principles of the new religion.
I work with special collections — archives, manuscripts, rare books — at Pitts Theology Library, Emory University. I have a BA in Classics from California State University, Long Beach (2006), a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) from Candler School of Theology (2009), and most recently a PhD in New Testament from Emory University (defended my dissertation in March 2017). My research is primarily concerned with Luke-Acts, ancient historiography, and rhetoric criticism. My dissertation, “All Things to All People: Luke’s Paul as an Orator in Diverse Social Contexts,” looks at Luke’s characterization of Paul in four main speeches in Acts (chs. 13, 17, 20, and 26). This dissertation looks at two issues related to the characterization of Paul in the book of Acts: (1) whether Luke, the author of Acts, makes use of the rhetorical exercise of speech-in-character (prosopopoeia/ethopoeia), and (2) what Luke’s purposes are in portraying Paul as a gifted speaker who adapts to different rhetorical situations. Thus, this dissertation looks at each speech individually, and then considers the cumulative portrait of Paul in Acts.