I study the diverse Christianities of the 1st-5th c. through the scriptures they produced, read, reproduced, translated, and adapted, especially Luke, Acts, John, and 1, 2, 3, John. A significant part of my research fits within the field of New Testament/Christian origins, and addresses such questions as: What religious, social, and cultural projects were these texts meant to support? What kinds of communities or social relations do these texts seek to create, reshape, or disarticulate? How is community identity articulated in and around these texts? As a linguist by training, I am especially interested in how the peculiar linguistic and stylistic features of these texts frame and support these aims. At the same time, I am also interested in how later communities—particularly late antique communities—took up these same texts and put them to work in different social and cultural projects, illustrating the changing priorities of Christians in this period. My research in this second area relies heavily on the methods of cultural history, and fits within the fields of Late Antique studies, Reception studies, and Liturgical studies.
My current monograph project, entitled Inventing Stephen: Cult and Competition in Late Antique Jerusalem, explores the use of biblical materials to construct a cult for Stephen the Protomartyr in fifth century Jerusalem. Each chapter of the project illustrates how the cult’s various expressions—its feasts, lectionary readings, and relic devotions—made “usable” presents of Jerusalem’s scriptural past, with the goal of strengthening the city’s hand in several inter- and extra-mural theaters of competition. A second project focuses on the eschatological language of the Gospel of John.