Margaret M. Mitchell

Margaret M. Mitchell, MA, Ph.D. 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). The first volume of her collected essays, Paul and the Emergence of Christian Textuality: Early Christian Literary Culture in Context, appeared in autumn, 2017. She is also the coeditor of two volumes, including, with Frances M. Young, The Cambridge History of Christianity, Volume 1: Origins to Constantine (2006). Prof. Mitchell is currently completing a volume, John Chrysostom on Paul: Praises and Problem Passages, to be published in the Writings from the Greco-Roman World series (Society of Biblical Literature), and, among other projects, is engaged in ongoing study of the newly recovered (2012) Greek homilies on the Psalms by Origen of Alexandria, as well as a book project, “The Letters of Paul: A Biography.” Mitchell has applied her research into how the Bible was a source of “problems” for its interpreters in antiquity to an important test case in contemporary America in a recent essay, “’It’s Complicated.’ ‘No It’s Not.’ Problems and Solutions in the Museum of the Bible” (in Jill Hicks-Keeton and Cavan Concannon, eds., The Museum of the Bible: A Critical Introduction, 2019).

Prof. Mitchell’s research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Luce, Mellon and Guggenheim foundations.  She is an elected member of Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, l’Association internationale d’études patristiques, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  


Shailer Mathews Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature
University of Chicago Divinity School




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