Margaret M. Mitchell

Shailer Mathews Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature; also in the College




MA, PhD (University of Chicago)

Margaret M. Mitchell is a literary historian of ancient Christianity. Her research and teaching span a range of topics in New Testament and early Christian writings up through the end of the fourth century. She analyzes how the earliest Christians literally wrote their way into history, developing a literary and religious culture that was deeply embedded in Hellenistic Judaism and the wider Greco-Roman world, while also proclaiming its distinctiveness from each. Special interests include the Pauline letters (both in their inaugural moments and in the history of their effects), the poetics and politics of ancient biblical interpretation, and the intersection of text, image, and artifact in the fashioning of early Christian culture.

Prof. Mitchell is the author of four books: Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation (1991); The Heavenly Trumpet: John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation (2000); The “Belly-Myther” of Endor: Interpretations of 1 Kingdoms 28 in the Early Church (with Rowan A. Greer, 2007), and Paul, the Corinthians and the Birth of Christian Hermeneutics (2010). She is also the coeditor of two volumes, including, with Frances M. Young, The Cambridge History of Christianity, Volume 1: Origins to Constantine (2006).  She is currently completing a volume, John Chrysostom on Paul: Praises and Problem Passages, to be published in the Writings from the Graeco-Roman World series (Society of Biblical Literature).  Recent studies and lectures include “John Chrysostom on Love, Marriage and Magic: Assessing the Evidence of a Previously Untranslated Homily (hom. in 1 Cor 7:2)”; “Problems and Solutions in Early Christian Biblical Interpretation: A Telling Case from Origen’s Newly Discovered Greek Homilies on the Psalms (codex Monacensis Graecus 314)”; “Gospel Optics” (review essay on Francis Watson, Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective); “Gift Histories” (review essay on John Barclay, Paul and the Gift); and “Hey! You Took that Out of Context!” Biblical Interpretation on the Floor of Congress.”  Her research has been supported by grants from the Luce, Mellon and Guggenheim foundations.

Prof. Mitchell is an elected member of Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, l’Association internationale d’études patristiques, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  

Select work: 

"The Abercius Inscription"

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"Archaic Mark: A Remarkable Manuscript Treasure or a Modern-Day Counterfeit?"

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Swift 204B

Current and Upcoming Courses


BIBL 43100 Interpreting the Gospel according to Matthew

BIBL 43200 Colloquium: Ancient Christianity

BIBL 51800 Exegesis Seminar: 2 Corinthians

BIBL 53500 Early Christian Biblical Interpretation

History of Christianity

HCHR 33200 Interpreting the Gospel according to Matthew

HCHR 43200 Colloquium: Ancient Christianity

HCHR 53500 Early Christian Biblical Interpretation