Call for Papers

The 2013 Annual Meeting of the North American Patristics Society will take place on May 22-24, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.  The following announcements are in respect to the meeting.

The website for submitting your paper proposals is now closed. Paper proposals were accepted until November 18, 2013.

Notification of acceptance of all papers and session proposals was made in December 2013.

Be advised: Only NAPS members in good standing, who are registered as members for 2014 by January, 15 2014,  may read papers.

NAPS Outstanding Student Paper Prizes

Graduate student members of NAPS whose papers are accepted for the 2014 Annual Meeting are invited to apply for a $250 “NAPS Outstanding Student Paper Prize” by submitting an annotated, conferencel-length version of their paper (no more than 2,500 words) to NAPS Past President Ken Steinhauser () by March 1, 2014.  Up to five prizes will be given, and the winners will be announced at the 2014 NAPS Business Meeting.

Summary of Important Dates

September 23, 2013 – Deadline for the topics of the Open Call Sessions

October 8, 2013 – Call for Papers opens

November 18, 2013 – Call for Papers closes

December 23, 2013 – Notification of acceptance

January 15, 2014 – Deadline for 2014 membership registration, which is required to remain on the conference program

February 1, 2014 – Draft of conference program will be available; you may access it by clicking here.

March 1, 2014 – Deadline to apply for Outstanding Student Paper Prizes

May 22-24, 2014 – Annual Meeting in Chicago

Questions? Please direct them to:

Susanna Elm

Vice-President, NAPS

University of California – Berkeley


Title: Christianity and Sophistic Culture in the Second and Third Centuries

Chair: Jared Secord ()

Abstract: The “Second Sophistic” has for decades formed part of the conceptual vocabulary of studies that have attempted to contextualize the activities and the literary output of a wide range of early Christian scholars (e.g. Barnes 1985 [1971] on Tertullian; Winter 2002 [1997] on Paul; Brent 2006 on Ignatius; Adler 2009 on Julius Africanus). But increasing discontent among classical scholars  with the concept of the “Second Sophistic” and its application (e.g. Whitmarsh 2013) invites reflection also from scholars of early Christianity, particularly in the wake of a number of recent studies that have offered important insights by approaching Christian and non-Christian discourses within a unified frame (e.g. Nasrallah 2010 and Eshleman 2012). This panel accordingly seeks papers that examine the connections between Christianity and any aspect of sophistic culture in the second and third centuries, with “sophistic culture” defined as inclusively as the author sees fits (e.g. artistic objects, book-collecting, canon-formation, classicism, dining habits, encyclopedism, epideictic display, Hellenism, hero-cults, improvisation, perceptions of the past, purism, ritual objects, sophistic hymns). Papers can focus on literature (of any relevant genre in any relevant language), material culture, and any other subject that illustrates connections between Christianity and sophistic culture.

Title: Epiphanius of Cyprus: Controversies and Contexts

Chair: Andrew S. Jacobs () and Young Richard Kim ()

Abstract: Epiphanius is a constant presence in contemporary studies of late ancient Christianity, but he is rarely a subject of consideration in his own right.  Modern scholarly assessments of the man and his work generally have tended toward the negative: “another second-rate theologian standing in the tradition of Athanasius,” proclaimed Richard Hanson in The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, echoing the dominant impression of the last century of scholarship: “a writer who is narrow-minded at best and very silly at worst.”  In more recent years, however, the infamous heresiologist has seen burgeoning interest as an original thinker, exegete, theologian, and driving force in the late fourth-century world.  The organizers of this open call session solicit papers to continue the scholarly conversation about the place of Epiphanius in the early Christian tradition, and they invite contributors to explore and explain any aspect of his thought that might cast new light on his unique contributions to the theological, intellectual, and cultural developments of late antiquity and late ancient Christianity.

Title: Factors in the Development of Early Christianity

Chair: Gavril Andreicut ()

Abstract: This is a session interested in the development of Christianity in the first six centuries, especially in the factors that played a significant role in the development of Christianity as we come to know it today. On the other hand, the session is interested in finding answers as to why Christianity did not develop otherwise than it actually developed. Since early Christianity was a very diverse movement, the diversity of early Christian traditions, “orthodox” and “heretical,” will be an important subject of discussion and debate. The session starts from the premise that Christianity was not a purely religious movement motivated only by religious factors. Rather, a series of religious, social, economic and political factors played a role in the development of early Christianity. This session will try to point out the factors—if possible, the factor—that played a leading role in the development of early Christianity. To achieve its goal, the session intends to involve scholars from all areas of early Christianity—biblical interpretation, theology/doctrines, politics, social and economic life, archeology, gender and sexuality, art, etc. This session believes that an interdisciplinary approach to the study of early Christianity as well as the study of context can give us a better idea about the main factors—and why not, the leading factor—that played a leading role in development of early Christianity.

Title: Late Antique Ecclesiastical Historiography in Context

Chair: Anna Lankina () and Joseph Reidy (

Abstract: Although the ecclesiastical histories of Late Antiquity serve as the main sources for numerous aspects of that time period, the histories themselves still remain woefully understudied.  More recently, several scholars have redressed this by studying individual historians and proposing new perspectives in surveys of late antique history writing. In The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity, Brian Croke challenges the traditional distinctions between classical and ecclesiastical histories in late antiquity. In his argument he tears down the boundaries between the two and stresses instead the cultural unity of late antique historiography.  Additionally, he and others emphasize that the so-called first church history of Eusebius of Caesarea was written for a particular apologetic purpose.  They thereby bring into question the very existence of a distinct genre of ecclesiastical history.  However, such an argument discounts the voice of the church historians themselves who claim to be writing ecclesiastical history in the footsteps of Eusebius.

We propose to explore further this question regarding early ecclesiastical historiography through the analysis of pro-Nicene, non-Nicene, and non-Christian histories from the fourth through the sixth century. By placing these in dialogue with each other, we can both grasp the cultural unity while simultaneously recognizing their claims to distinctiveness. It is only through an awareness of their common cultural context that we can understand how these historians themselves understood the writing of history.

Title: Metaphors of Economy in Patristic Thought

Chair: Devin Singh ()

Abstract: This session invites submissions exploring the metaphorical use of economic language, concepts, and practices by early Christian thinkers and their contemporaries. Of particular interest are the ways such thinkers drew upon wider economic practices and assumptions and applied them within a “spiritual” register. Economic language might be used to provide examples or illustrations of a spiritual or metaphysical truth claim, or perhaps serve as the centerpiece of a moral lesson. Thus, we are not concerned here with the ancient economy alone, but rather with considerations and analyses of such economy’s potential impact upon the thought systems of the day. The strongest submissions will offer a succinct exploration of the particular economic idea or practice in context, but devote primary attention to the patristic discourse itself. How did patristic thinkers—and contemporaneous sources upon which they drew—make use of the economy and its practices to work out elements within their conceptual systems? Examples of such influence include metaphors of debt repayment or redemption from slavery to depict salvation, coining and other numismatic terminology used to describe God or humanity, imperial or household economic practices used to explain divine economy, and trade relationships used to illustrate new communal formations, for instance. The aim is to discover in what ways elements in early Christian thought might be helpfully clarified by and assessed in light of broader cultural practices, in this case, economic.

Title: Religion and Medicine, Health, Healing, Disease, and Disability in Late Antiquity

Chair: Kristi Upson-Saia ()

Abstract: Religious Studies scholars have become fascinated with the intersections between religion and illness, injury, disease, disability, health, healing and medicine.  For the past several years, the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature have sponsored program units (Religions, Medicines, and Healing and Religion and Disabilities Group; Healthcare and Disability in the Ancient World), as well as numerous individual papers.  While much of the historical scholarship has focused primarily on biblical materials, the scholarship focused on late antique sources has grown in recent years. Many of us working on these topics have been building a community to track and coordinate our research projects, to provide feedback on work-in-projects, and to explore potential avenues for collaboration.  Given the wide-ranging interest in these topics in the field and given the likelihood that members of our group would be able to fill at least one session, we are proposing an open session on Religion and Medicine, Health, Healing, Disease, and Disability in Late Antiquity.

We invite paper proposals that investigate (1) the religious meanings assigned to illness, ailments, afflictions, disabilities, and suffering; (2) the religious status of sick, deformed, or disabled individuals; (3) the use of medical, health, or sickness metaphors to articulate or motivate religious ideas, attitudes, or practices; (4) healthcare systems and institutions run by religious individuals or groups; (5) any other interaction of religion and health, healing, medicine, sickness, injury, disease, and/or disability.

Title: The Intellectual Culture and Context of Second and Third Century Patristic Authors

Chair: Kristina Meinking ()

Abstract: How patristic authors grappled with their so-called ‘pagan’ intellectual and philosophical heritage has been a topic of much discussion in scholarship for the last four decades. In addition to the Quellenforschung that drove much early modern work, a number of thematic studies have elucidated the various tensions at play in late antique intellectual culture as individuals vied for authority and influence in both the political and ecclesiastical arenas. Scholars of late antiquity have explored, for example, how specific Latin authors relied on Latin literature, and in turn have begun to untangle the complex relationships of classical Greek rhetoric and philosophy to Greek authors of the later centuries CE. The primary aim of this session is to create a space for dialogue and the exchange of ideas about late antique figures who would otherwise be studied in isolation, and in so doing to help develop a greater sense of their shared cultural and intellectual contexts.

By considering evidence that represents a cross-section of second and third century authors, texts, and genres, this session seeks to advance ongoing scholarly conversations on the topic of the intellectual background of the Greek and especially Latin Church Fathers—themselves sitting on the borders of classical and late antiquity. Beyond tracing connections between classical and late antique intellectual culture, participants in this session will closely examine the ways in which intellectuals of this period were shaped by, engaged with, and molded inherited practices and pedagogies, both philosophical and rhetorical. We are particularly interested in papers that explore how patristic authors sought to create for themselves an identity and a foothold in the late antique intellectual milieu through the invocation of a particular intellectual tradition—whether rhetorical, philosophical, or theological.

Title: The Apostles in the Apostolic Fathers

Chair: Mark Glen Bilby () and David L. Eastman ()

Abstract: Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphical literature is often treated as ancillary within the study of early Christianity, a contra-canon to the canonical books and a genre of literature too vulgar or esoteric to be taken seriously in the study of the Fathers or the early reception history of the Bible. However, the legends of various Biblical characters are very often presumed, expanded, elaborated, and debated among even the most influential and orthodox theological voices and Biblical commentators in early Christianity. This session invites papers on the topic of apostolic books and legends. We seek to explore how the various stories about the apostles shape the interpretation and reception of the scriptures that feature those apostles, whether as characters or ostensible authors. For example, in what ways do the legends of Paul as a martyr or Paul as Thecla’s teacher color the interpretation of the Pauline epistles (authentic and/or disputed) and the Acts of the Apostles? How does Peter’s legendary authorship of two epistles shape their early history of reception? How are the stories of Peter’s martyrdom and rivalry with Simon Magus repeated and expanded in the early reception of Acts? To what extent does the attribution of Revelation to the beloved disciple determine the canonical fate, liturgical usage, and interpretation of that book? What impact on the interpretation of Luke is made by the traditions about Luke as Paul’s companion, historian, and doctor? These questions are not meant to be comprehensive but only indicative of the kinds of questions we are interested in addressing.