The Department of Religion

at Williams College

buellDenise Kimber Buell
Associate Dean of Faculty and Professor of Religion


Office: Hopkins Hall 316
Phone: (413) 597-2990

Office Hours
Mondays 2-3pm
Tuesdays 2-3pm
and by appointment

A.B. Princeton University, 1987
M.Div. Harvard Divinity School, 1990
Ph.D. Harvard University, 1995

· REL 101: Introduction to Religion
· WGSS 101: Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies
· REL 103: The Way of Power: A History of Occult Knowledge and Practices/ with J. Josephson
· REL/CLAS 210/COMP 213: Reading Jesus, Writing Gospels: Christian Origins in Context
· REL 212/HIST 324: The Development of Christianity: 30-600 CE
· REL 305T: Haunted: Ghosts in the Study of Religion
· REL 306/WGSS 307: Feminist Approaches to Religion
· REL/CLAS/COMP 218/HIST 331: Gnosis, Gnostics, Gnosticism
· WGSS 402: Transformations and Entanglements: Agency and Identity

Research Fields
· Early Christian History
· Feminist Biblical Interpretation
· Religion and Cultures of the Roman Imperial Period
· Ethnicity and Critical Race Theory
· Clement of Alexandria

Other Interests
· Gnosticism
· Cultural Memory
· Queer Theory
· Religion and Science

Program Connections
· Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Selected Publications


  • Books:
    • Why This New Race: Ethnic Reasoning in Early Christianity (Columbia UP 2005).
    • Clement of Alexandria and the Rhetoric of Legitimacy (Princeton UP 1999).
  • Articles:
    • Challenges and Strategies for Speaking about Ethnicity in the New Testament and New Testament Studies.” Svensk Exegetisk Årsbok 49 (2014): 33-51.
    • “Cyborg Memories: An Impure History of Jesus.”  Biblical Interpretation 18 (2010): 313-341.
    • “The Afterlife is Not Dead: Spiritualism, Postcolonial Theory, and Early Christian Studies.” Church History 78.4 (December 2009): 862-872.
    • “God’s Own People: Specters of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in Early Christian Studies.” In Prejudice and Christian Beginnings: Investigating Race, Gender, and Ethnicity in Early Christian Studies, 159-190. Ed. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza and Laura Nasrallah. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009.
    • “Early Christian Universalism and Racism.” In The Origins of Racism in the West.Ed. Miriam Eliav-Feldon, Benjamin Isaac, and Joseph Ziegler, 109-131. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
    • “Imagining Human Transformation in the Context of Invisible Powers: Instrumental Agency in Second-Century Treatments of Conversion.” In Metamorphoses: Resurrection, Body and Transformative Practices in Early Christianity,263-284. Ed. Turid Karlsen Seim and Jorunn Økland. Ekstasis: Religious Experience from Antiquity to the Middle Ages 1. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter Press, 2009.
    • “The Politics of Interpretation: The Rhetoric of Race and Ethnicity in Paul.” Journal of Biblical Literature. 123.2 (2004): 235-252.
    • “‘Sell What You Have and Give to the Poor:’ A Feminist Interpretation of Clement of Alexandria’s Who is the Rich Person Who is Saved?” Walk in the Ways of Wisdom: Essays in Honor of Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza. Ed. Cynthia Kittredge, Shelly Matthews, and Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre, 194-213. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2003.
    • “Race and Universalism in Early Christianity.” Journal of Early Christian Studies. 10:4 (2002): 429-68
    • “Rethinking the Relevance of Race for Early Christian Self-Definition.” Harvard Theological Review. 94:4 (2001): 449–476.
  • In Press:
    • “Hauntology meets Post-Humanism: Some Payoffs for Biblical Studies.”  In The Bible and Posthumanism.  Ed. Jennifer Koosed (Semeia Studies Atlanta: SBL).
    • “The Microbes and Pneuma That Therefore I am.”  In Divinanimality: Creaturely Theology.  Ed. Stephen Moore and Laurel Kearns (New York: Fordham University Press).
    •  “Canons Unbound.”  In Feminist Biblical Studies in the 20th Century. Ed. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza.  Volume 20 of The Bible and Women: An Encyclopaedia of Exegesis and Cultural History.  General editors: Irmtraud Fischer, Mercedes Navarro Puerto, Jorunn Økland, Adriana Valerio.  English version: Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.


Selected Recent Talks:

  • “Canonizing Agency and the Agency of Canons,” presented in the “Making Canons: Feminist Perspectives” symposium, University of Oslo, Centre for Gender Research (January 2013)
  • “This is Not a Ghost Story: Rethinking Resurrection” (July, 2012)
  • “Cultural and Temporal Complexities of Remembering Jesus: Engaging the Submerged Legacies of Spiritualists, Occultists, and Theosophists.” Paper presented in the International Seminar of “Jesus in Cultural Complexity” Project, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway. (Oct 2011)
  • “These Microbes and Pneuma That Therefore I am.”  Paper presented in the 11th Drew Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium, “Divinanimality: Creaturely Theology,” Drew Theological School, Madison, NJ.  (Sept 2011)
  • “The Historiography of Christian Origins and the Origins of Islam: Prototypes, Loaded Narratives, and Cautionary Tales.” Opening paper for the “The Origins of Islam: Narratives of History and the Historiography of Narratives” Conference, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH. (Aug 2011)

Upcoming Talks:

  • “In Our Minds and/or In The Texts?  What Does it Mean to Speak about Ethnicity in the Bible?”  Keynote Lecture for the Annual Symposium of the Swedish Exegetical Society, Lund, Sweden (September 2013)