I welcome expressions of interest (either via email or by appointment) for M.A. and Ph.D. research projects related to the broader field of my specialisation. More particularly, projects falling under the following topics are of great interest: ancient religions; theories of religion (origins, function, and specificity); myth (ancient and modern); cognitive theories and approaches to religion; atheism in antiquity and in the modern world; early Christianity and identity formation; Christian apologetics (second to fifth century); second temple Judaism; the notion of ‘god’ in antiquity; ancient and modern heroes and religion; religion and politics; deification of humans.

Prospective graduate students are requested to prepare a 5-page (M.A.) or 8-page (Ph.D.) preliminary research proposal that will include the following:

  • Title of the project
  • Research question(s) to be addressed
  • Short description of the methodology that will be followed
  • Short blibliographical list relevant to the project

Supervision meetings take place regularly in person or via Skype. Candidates must demonstrate language competency in the field of their specialisation.Areas of SupervisionAncient ReligionsSupervision is offered in several ancient traditions, including but not restricted to Greek, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Roman religions. Prospective postgraduate students and Ph.D. candidates interested in ritual, beliefs, myths, and other aspects of ancient cultures in relation to religious practices and institutions are welcome to contact me. I am particularly interested in projects that question/challenge the basic constitutive element of this subfield, i.e., ‘religions’: What is meant by the term? Is it applicable to pre-monotheistic traditions? How can we productively use the term? Is there one or more sound methodological and theoretical approaches that can scientifically account for these ancient bodies of ‘religious’ ideas and practices?

Early Christianity

Although an admittedly vast area, I am primarily interested in topics that address issues of a broader theoretical interest, such as: how was Christianity ‘invented’? How did early Christians form a new identity? How innovative was Christianity? What kind of argumentations were put forward by the early Christian authors? Students interested in the so-called Christian apologists (e.g., Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus of Lyon) and their writings in conjunction with the aforementioned questions are most welcome to contact me.

Myth, Heroes, and Religion

Myth is a contested term, already from its ancient conception and utilisation. However, the term is very much alive nowadays in almost every cultural setting, primarily as a ‘false,’ ‘erroneous,’ or ‘pseudo-historical’ account of anything. Moreover, ancient and modern ideas of ‘heroes’ (from Achilles to Superman) utilise the notion of myth to justify—or, better, persuade—their audience about the ‘truth’ of the accompanying narratives. More often than not, such stories have a religious aspect that cannot go unnoticed. Supervision is offered in any of the aforementioned areas, including to suggested topics that fall within the broader rubric of ‘myth’ and ‘heroes’—without excluding suggestions on topics that touch upon the issue of ‘what is a myth?’ and theories of myth explanation.

Religion and Politics: Deification

The connection of religion and politics is uncontested nowadays in the study of both ancient and modern cultures. The underlying concept that strongly links the two concepts is no other than ‘power’ (e.g., the work of Foucault). Explicit examples of demonstrating how religion, politics, and power are interconnected can be found in numerous cases of human deification—primarily of potentates, state leaders, and kings. Students and researchers interested in discussing how deification functions within either ancient or modern milieus (even more so in a comparative mode), such as ancient Egypt, Hellenistic kingdoms, Roman Empire, Mesoamerican civilisations, including of course cases such as the medieval French kings, Japanese Emperors, and others are welcome to contact me. Of particular interest are topics that employ a historical-comparative method that seeks to demonstrate the ways deification operates and whether it is successful or not.

The Notion of ‘God’ & Atheism: Ancient/Modern

Although a topic that can be easily incorporated to the overall research theme of ‘Ancient Religions,’ supervision is also offered in more targeted topics on what constitutes a God in both polytheistic and monotheistic cultural settings. Of particular interest, however, are suggestions that take on a comparative approach that seeks to demonstrate both similarities and differences of ancient (e.g., Greek and Egyptian ideas), modern (e.g., Christian and Jewish understanding), or ancient/modern conceptualisations (e.g., Roman and Muslim ideas) of what is—and what is not—a god. Additionally, and in relation to the theistic understanding of ‘god(s),’ I am interested in topics that are connected with the atheistic stance taken by thinkers (or groups) in both antiquity and modernity. Such views can be combined with the initial topic of ‘godhead’ and demonstrate how atheism responded/responds to such claims.

Theories of Religion: Ancient, Classic, and Modern

Theories of religion are generalisations about the category ‘religion.’ A theorist of religion claims that s/he can account for the origins, function(s), and specificity of religion wherever and whenever is encountered. At the heart of those theories lies a need for which religion arises and persists—a need that can be of any kind: for material things like shelter and food, to explain the workings of the universe, to account for dreams, to come into contact with our unconscious, for social cohesion, etc. This is a scientific endeavor that can be traced already in antiquity (e.g., Presocratic philosophers), mainly developed in the seventeenth to twentieth century (e.g., Hume, Durkheim, Freud, Tylor), and is still very much active, primarily via the new subfield of the Cognitive Study of Religion (CSR) (e.g., Guthrie, Boyer). Supervision is offered in any of the traditional theories of religion, although of particular interest are scholars who have promoted theories of religion that stem from fields outside Religious Studies, like literature, fiction, economics, political science, psychology, etc.