MemberJens Notroff

Studied Prehistoric Archaeology at the Free University of Berlin under Prof. Hänsel and Prof. Teržan, where I finished studies in 2009 achieving the degree of Magister Artium. Main focus of research is the European Bronze Age, especially burial customs and material culture in view of the representation of prestige and social hierarchy, closely related to my interest in places of cult and ritual respectively the question of their archaeological evidence. Dissertation deals with the phenomenon of miniature swords in the Nordic Bronze Age and the role of these symbolic arms as markers of social rank. From Montelius’ Period IV onwards, miniature swords are found in burials while their larger pendants are mostly (but not exclusively) connected to depositions. Other than stated before, miniature swords are not displacing the large arms as grave goods completely – when they are disappearing from burials in Period V this also means the end of the Bronze Age miniature sword phenomenon in the North. Second field of research is the Pre-Pottery Neolithic and beginning sedentism as well as the development of early complex societies; affiliated with the Göbekli Type research project of the German Archaeological Institute’s Orient Department, excavating the oldest yet known monumental architecture – an early cultic centre or gathering place of hunter-gatherer groups near Şanlıurfa in south-eastern Anatolia.

MemberAntony Keen


55-year old para-academic. Writes mostly on classical reception in popular culture, especially cinema and contemporary science fiction. Current major project: Screening Britannia. Currently teaching Roman Britain and Cinema and Ancient Greece and Rome; has previously taught ancient history, myth, and London as a location for sff. Also with role in Science Fiction Foundation, and formerly British Science Fiction Association. For my online course, go here:

MemberDavid A. Burnett

…s, 2016 Annual Meeting, Dallas, Texas.
“The Sword and the Servant: Reframing the Function of the ‘Two Swords’ of Luke 22:35-38 in Narrative Context.” Synoptic Gospels Program Unit, 2015 Annual Meeting of the Society of…

David A. Burnett has completed doctoral coursework toward a PhD in Religious Studies in Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity at Marquette University. He has served as a graduate teaching assistant and research assistant in the Department of Theology at Marquette. He has also studied at Tantur Ecumenical Institute of the University of Notre Dame in Jerusalem, Israel and Oxford University. His work has been published with Fortress Academic/Lexington Press and in the Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters. His research interests include early Jewish apocalyptic, esoteric, and mystical traditions within the reception and interpretation of scripture in the Second Temple period and the integral role these traditions play in the study of Christian origins. More specifically, he is interested in the origins and development of early Jewish and Christian deification and angelomorphic traditions, the development of Messianism and Christology, and apocalyptic eschatology and resurrection beliefs in Early Judaism and Christian origins. His current research agenda focuses on tracing these streams of tradition in Pauline literature and thought, Luke-Acts, and the exploration and (re)description of the parting of the ways between early Judaism and Christianity.

MemberMarlin Blaine

I teach English and Comparative Literature at California State University, Fullerton, with a specialization in the early modern period.  My research focuses mostly on seventeenth-century English literature, with emphases on the intersections of politics and writing and on classical reception.

MemberStephanie Wood

Historian Stephanie Wood (Ph.D. UCLA 1984) is the author of one monograph, dozens of articles, and co-editor of five anthologies. She was the Principal Investigator of the NEH-funded Mapas Project (2006–2008), an online collection of indigenous-authored pictorial manuscripts from New Spain, plus the online Nahuatl Dictionary (NEH-NSF, 2008–2012). She is currently expanding the Early Nahuatl Library of alphabetic manuscripts. She has directed five NEH-funded Summer Institutes for U.S. school teachers, “Mesoamerican Cultures and their Histories,” one held in Oregon and four in Mexico (the latest in 2015). 

MemberJames A Benn

My field of research is religion in medieval China (roughly fourth to tenth century, CE). To date I have concentrated on three major areas of interest: bodily practice in Chinese Religions; the creation and transmission of new religious practices and doctrines; and the religious dimensions of commodity culture.  In particular, I have focused on self-immolation, Chinese Buddhist apocrypha, the history of tea, and religion and the military.  I work with primary sources written in literary Chinese and my research engages with that of scholars who publish in English and French as well as in modern Chinese and Japanese.  Although my work is grounded in traditional Sinology—a discipline based on knowledge of the literature, history, and culture of pre-modern China—my publicationsare also aimed towards scholars of Religious Studies. I Self-immolation Self-immolation is an under-researched topic that is important for our understanding both of Buddhism in China and also the bodily forms of religious practice that appear in other cultures.  In my research I seek to explain how seemingly anomalous practices can provide new ways of understanding religion.  This project has resulted in a book, and a number of articles and book chapters. My first article on the topic, “Where Text Meets Flesh: Burning the Body as an ‘Apocryphal Practice’ in Chinese Buddhism” (1998), explores how texts (both apocryphal and canonical) and practices in Chinese Buddhism operated in a mutually reinforcing cycle so that doctrinal innovations spurred new modes of bodily piety while, conversely, practices that lacked textual sanction drove the creation of scripture. The book, Burning for the Buddha, is a comprehensive study of the subject.  It seeks first to place self-immolation in historical, social, ethical, cultural and doctrinal context via a thorough investigation of the practice throughout Chinese history.  Second, it investigates how self-immolation was constructed as a Chinese Buddhist practice by three types of historical actors: self-immolators, their biographers, and the compilers of hagiographical collections.  The book offers a detailed history of self-immolation in China from medieval times until the early twentieth century, and includes many annotated translations from primary sources. Four related articles and book chapters—“Spontaneous Human Combustion: Some Remarks on a Phenomenon in Chinese Buddhism”; “Fire and the Sword: Some Connections between Self-immolation and Religious Persecution in the History of Chinese Buddhism”; “Self-immolation in the Context of War and Other Natural Disasters”; and “Written in Flames: Self-immolation in Sixth Century Sichuan”—explore in more detail aspects of self-immolation that are only touched upon briefly in the book, such as the spontaneous nature of holy death, self-immolators as martyrs, self-immolation as a response to war and natural disasters, and self-immolation as a practice suitable for end-times. I have also published an article on Chinese Buddhist self-immolation in historical context and some annotated biographies of medieval self-immolators. II Apocrypha My studies on Chinese Buddhist apocrypha address how new concepts of religious practice entered the Buddhist canon in the form of scriptures composed in medieval China, rather than works translated from Indic languages. My article on a major apocryphal Buddhist text that decisively shaped Chinese Buddhism (“Another look at the pseudo-Śūramgama sūtra”) is the first study of the text in any European language. This study lays the foundation for my SSHRC-funded project, a scholarly translation (from Chinese to English) and book-length study of the Śūramgama sūtra.  “The Silent Samgha: Some Observations on Mute Sheep Monks” presents a new perspective on how monastic practice in medieval China was re-imagined on the basis of certain obscure passages of Buddhist scripture. III Tea The project on the role of tea in Chinese religions takes the form of a book-length monograph currently forthcoming from University of Hawai’i Press and a number of articles.  The chapter “Buddhism, Alcohol, and Tea in Medieval China,” in a volume on food and religion in traditional China, describes how Buddhists were active not only in changing people’s attitudes towards intoxicating substances, but also in spreading tea drinking throughout the empire. The book, Tea in China: A Religious and Cultural History, explores the contours of religious and cultural change in traditional China from the point of view of a commodity. I trace the development of tea drinking from its mythic origins to the late-imperial period (sixteenth to nineteenth centuries), and examine the changes in aesthetics, ritual, science, health, and knowledge which tea brought with it. The book contains many translations from the Chinese primary sources, including poetry. IV Religion and the Military in Medieval China The objectives of this SSHRC-sponsored project are to understand connections between the world of religion and the world of the military in medieval China (roughly fourth to tenth centuries CE). In particular, the research examines the interfaces between Buddhist and Daoist doctrine and practice and the concepts, institutions, and individuals that can be understood to constitute the “military” in medieval China. The issues are examined both from the side of the military, using historical documents from official and unofficial sources, and from the perspective of Buddhism and Daoism as seen in textual and art historical materials. Some questions that drive this research include: how did religious concepts and practices fit into the worldview of professional and conscript soldiers? What specific ritual practices were deployed in military life? Why and how did military leaders become patrons of religious institutions? Conversely, how and why did Buddhist and Daoist practitioners and scriptures make use of military concepts and images? The answers to such questions are clearly not restricted to the military arena, but will help us to understand better the seen and unseen worlds that medieval Chinese people inhabited. The project offers insight into the conceptual underpinnings of much of the later (post year 1000 AD) religious traditions of China, and allows us to see the significance of foundational Chinese ideas about martial practice and imagery for the religion and culture of neighbouring countries such as Korea, Japan and Vietnam.

MemberFabiana E. Martínez

Fabiana Elisa Martínez was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. From a very young age she showed a special interest in books and “words in other languages.” Fabiana graduated with Honors from the UCA University in Buenos Aires with a degree of Profesora en Letras (Linguistics and World Literature). She soon started teaching Spanish as a second language and perfected her method which she has used to teach in preeminent international companies as well as to professionals from various countries. Fabiana speaks five languages: Spanish, English, French, Portuguese and Italian, and has degrees in Ancient Greek and Latin. She lives and works in Dallas, Texas. 12 Random Words / 12 Palabras al Azar is her first work of fiction.