Jonathan Soyars


As a Junior Fellow at the Martin Marty Center in 2016-17, I am eager to engage in a sustained, critical conversation with junior and senior scholars working across disciplinary and methodological boundaries in order to advance the academic study of religion in some small way that matters to the broader public. Specifically, I plan to write the final two chapters of my dissertation, which is tentatively entitled “The Shepherd of Hermas and the Pauline Legacy.” This study examines the recall and recasting of authoritative texts, traditions, and rituals associated with the apostle Paul in the Shepherd, an important but deeply understudied Christian text that was probably written by Hermas, a former foundling and freed slave who lived at Rome in the early second century C.E. Ultimately, I hope to offer a plausible account of how Hermas responded to perceived public and private problems by covertly deploying a recognized religious authority (i.e., “Paul”) to new argumentative ends. I look forward to submitting a portion of this project to the other Fellows’ analysis and evaluation, to engaging their work in a charitable way, and to learning from their approaches to teaching religious studies. Given the broad expertise of the budding and established scholars who are active in it, as well as its enduring commitment to supporting scholarship that aims to impact both academia and wider culture, the MMC is a uniquely rich and well suited environment at the University of Chicago for me to complete my doctoral studies.