Denise Kimber Buell
Cluett Professor of Religion


Office: Stetson 511
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
· REL 103: The Way of Power: A History of Occult Knowledge and Practices/ with J. Josephson
· REL 270: Reading Jesus, Writing Gospels: Christian Origins in Context
· REL 212/HIST 324: The Development of Christianity: 30-600 CE
· REL 285T: Haunted: Ghosts in the Study of Religion
· REL 306/WGSS 307: Feminist Approaches to Religion
· REL 276: Gnosis, Gnostics, Gnosticism

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:
    • “An argument for being less disciplined.” In Divided Worlds? Interdisciplinary and Contemporary Challenges in Classics and New Testament Studies. 39-63. Edited by Tat-siong Benny Liew and Caroline Johnson-Hodge. Semeia Studies. Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2023.
    • “Paul the Mystic: Exploring Modern Theosophy’s Legacy in New Testament and Early Christian Studies.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 89.4 (2021): 1190-1198.
    • “Race and Religion.” In A Cultural History of Race in Antiquity (500 BCE – 800 CE). 49-66. Ed. Denise E. McCoskey. London: Bloomsbury, 2021.
    • “The Mediumistic Secret: Reconsidering Historical Criticism in light of Modern Spiritualism.” Svensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift/Swedish Theological Quarterly 4 (2020): 317–333.
    • (with Stephen D. Moore) “Introduction: Queerness, Time, and Biblical Interpretation,” Biblical Interpretation 4–5 (2020): 1–20.
    • “This Changes Everything: Spiritualists, Theosophists, and Rethinking Early Christian Historiography.” In Re-Making the World: Categories and Early Christianity. Essays in Honor of Karen L. King, 345–368. Carly Daniel-Hughes, Benjamin Dunning, Laura Nasrallah, AnneMarie Luijendijk, and Taylor Petrey. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2019.
    • “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. Now also available in Race and Biblical Studies: Antiracism Pedagogy for the Classroom, 43-60. Eds. Tat-siong Benny Liew and Shelly Matthews. Atlanta: SBL Press 2022.
    • “Posthumanism.” In The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Sexuality in the New Testament. Chapter 37.  Ed. Benjamin Dunning. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019.
    • “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, 2017.
    • “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:

  • “Is Christianity the Source of Racism?” Keynote speaker for symposium on Race and Christianity. Hosted by Villanova University (April 2021)
  • “Alternative Inheritances: The Value and Challenge of Pauline Hopkins’s Of One Blood for Biblical Studies.” Invited lecture delivered at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA (April 2019)
  • “Neither Ahistoricism nor Historicism: Religion, Race, and Ethnicity in the Study of Early Christian History and Late Antiquity.” Keynote for “Race and Ethnicity in Classical and Late Antiquity” Graduate Colloquium, Elizabeth A. Clark Center for Late Ancient Studies, Duke University, Durham, NC (April 2019)
  • “This is Not a Ghost Story: Rethinking Resurrection” (July, 2012) http://www.williams.edu/williamsthinking/denise-buell/

Upcoming Talks:

  • “Reading apocalypticism as response to racialization.” To be presented in the Racism and Apocalypticism session. Annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. San Antonio, TX (Nov 2023)
  • “Acts and Whiteness.” To be presented in the Book of Acts section. Annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. San Antonio, TX (Nov 2023)