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). Recent articles and presentations include “The Poetics and Politics of Christian Baptism in the Abercius Monument“; “Peter’s ‘Hypocrisy’ and Paul’s: Two ‘Hypocrites’ at the Foundation of Earliest Christianity?” and “’Engraved on a Stele’: Scripture as a Public Monument in the Late Fourth Century.” 

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.  She received a Mellon Fellowship for Arts Practice and Scholarship from the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago for creative collaboration and programming around "The Good Book," a play commissioned by Court from Denis O'Hare and Lisa Peterson that had its world premiere at Court in March, 2015.  Among other projects, Professor Mitchell is currently working on a volume of translations of occasional sermons by John Chrysostom on Pauline passages for the Writings From the Greco-Roman World series, for which she has received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.  She will be on sabbatical in academic year 2015-2016. 

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 402

Current and Upcoming Courses


BIBL 32500 Introduction to the New Testament: Texts and Contexts

BIBL 50400 Early Christian Rhetoric

History of Christianity

HCHR 50401 Early Christian Rhetoric