Free and open to the public
“Revenge and Regulation: Torture in Late Ancient Christian Sources”: Ptarmigan Foundation Lecture on Early Christianity and the Ancient World
Abstract: The conventional popular understanding of early Christianity often invokes lurid tales of Christian martyrs suffering torture and spectacular punishments at the hands of imperial persecutors. The archive of late ancient Christianity, however, includes a number of sources that complicate the picture--from graphic revenge fantasies written by Christian theologians to Christian imperial law codes that provided a legal structure for the use of torture in a range of criminal contexts. This lecture explores these sources and their implications for our understanding of torture in the history of Christian thought and practice.
Speaker: Elizabeth A. Castelli, the Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Religion at Barnard College, is a specialist in biblical studies, early Christianity, feminist/gender studies in religion, and theory and method in the study of religion. Her single author books include Martyrdom and Memory: Early Christian Culture and Making and Imitating Paul: A Discourse of Power. Dedicated to collaborative scholarship, Professor Castelli has numerous co-edited works, such as Interventions: Activists and Academics Respond to Violence, Sexuality in Late Antiquity, and the Post-Modern Bible. Her dozens of articles reflect an astounding diversity of interests and expertise including works on violence, gender, historiography, literary criticism, modern Christian activism, reception studies, religious violence, biblical interpretation, and late ancient Christianity. Professor Castelli is also the founder of the scholarly journal Postscripts and serves on numerous advisory boards, including the Journal of Biblical Literature, the Journal of Early Christian Studies, Religion and Gender, the Center for Religion and Media, the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, and the Center for Constitutional Rights.