Denise Kimber Buell
Dean of Faculty and Cluett Professor of Religion


Office: Hopkins Hall 316
Phone: (413) 597-4351
E-mail: [email protected]

Office Hours
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).
    • Making Christians: Clement of Alexandria and the Rhetoric of Legitimacy (Princeton UP 1999).
  • Articles:
    • “Anachronistic Whiteness and the Ethics of Interpretation. ”  In Ethnicity, Race, Religion: Identities and Ideologies in Early Jewish and Christian Texts, and in the Traditions of Biblical Interpretation.  Pp. 149-167. Ed. Katherine M. Hockey and David G. Horrell. London: T&T Clark, 2018.
    • “Posthumanism.” In The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Sexuality in the New Testament. Chapter 37.  Ed. Benjamin Dunning. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.
    • “Embodied Temporalities: Gender, Ethnicity, and Other Transformations.” In The Bible, Feminism and Gender: Remapping the Field. Chapter 25, pp 454-476.  Ed. Yvonne Sherwood with the assistance of Anna Fisk.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.
    • “The Microbes and Pneuma That Therefore I am.”  In Divinanimality: Animal Theory, Creaturely Theology, 63-87.  Ed. Stephen D. Moore. New York: Fordham University Press, 2014.
    •   “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, 293-306.  General editors: Irmtraud Fischer, Mercedes Navarro Puerto, Jorunn Økland, Adriana Valerio.  English version: Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2014.
    •  “Hauntology meets Post-Humanism: Some Payoffs for Biblical Studies,” 29-56.  In The Bible and Posthumanism.  Ed. Jennifer Koosed. Semeia. Semeia Studies; Atlanta: SBL Publications, 2014.
    • 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.

Selected Recent Talks:

  • “How do we Speak about Race and Ethnicity in Antiquity?” Invited Panelist, Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, Boston, MA. (November, 2017)
  •  “How are we Human? The Surprising Resonances and Cautionary Tales Early Christian Notions of the Human have for our Contemporary Understandings.” The Compagna-Sennett Lecture delivered at Colby College, Waterville, ME. (September 2017)
  • “Anachronistic Whiteness and the Ethics of Interpretation.”  Paper presented at the ‘Ethnicity, Race, and Religion in Antiquity Symposium,’ University of Exeter, Exeter UK (April, 2016).
  • “Stuff That Matters: Old Materialisms Meet New Materialisms.”  Keynote Lecture for ‘Ancient Technologies: Their Matter, Materiality, and Materializations’ conference, Center for Ancient Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA (Feb, 2016).
  • “How Spiritualism and Theosophy Haunt ‘Gnosticism,’” Public Lecture, Braun Room, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA (Sept 17, 2015).
  • “Fleshy Passages: Feminist Biblical Interpreters Rethinking Health and Illness.” Invited lecture, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA (Sept 29, 2015).
  • “To be one is always to become with many:” What Ancient Christians can Teach us about the Future of the Human,” to be delivered in the “Future of Being Human” series, McDevitt Center for Creativity and Innovation, LeMoyne College, Syracuse, NY, (March 31, 2015).
  • “How Spiritualism and Theosophy Haunt ‘Gnosticism,’” paper presented at Westar Institute’s Christianity Seminar, Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literture, San Diego, CA. (November 2014).
  • “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) http://www.williams.edu/williamsthinking/denise-buell/

Upcoming Talks: