June 4, 2023

Barry Presents at Society of Biblical Literature & American Academy of Religion

Jennifer Barry, Assistant Professor of Religion, recently presented two invited papers at the annual conference of the Society of Biblical Literature and American Academy of Religion in San Antonio, Texas. In the pre-arranged session Construction of Christian Identities, the first paper touched on new theoretical methods for assessing early Christian identity and was built on work from her current book project. The second paper was then presented at a workshop on Digital Humanities in Biblical, Early Jewish, and Christian Studies. This paper addressed Barry’s growing interest in topics related to gender, early Christianity, and the web.

Failure as a Category of Analysis: Re-thinking Christian Identity


Clerical exile is an unstable condition as well as identity in the late ancient Christian movement. According to ecclesiastical historians, exile often marks a bishop as an “orthodox” or a “heretical” Christian. For this paper, I briefly examine an exile that rests uneasily in the latter category: Eusebius of Nicomedia. Eusebius’ exile is remembered as a just punishment for his support of “Arian” theology. And yet, it is evident that during his lifetime, Eusebius returns from his exile with even more power and influence. Christian memory-making, thus, poses a significant challenge for historians of early Christianity. Ultimately, this paper examines how the category of “failure” helps us to re-evaluate early Christian sources. As a new category of analysis, we might shift our understanding of other presumed failures as a way to re-imagine Christian identity.

BandofAngels.org: Accessing Women’s History through the Digital Humanities


Kate Cooper’s work Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women reminds us that the material reality of the past must always remain central and that the feminist political project cannot afford to lose its emphasis on embodied history. The Band of Angels project, appropriately named after the text, builds on this vision. We seek to provide an online resource to collect similar stories and broaden access to the stories and experiences of early Christian women like Thecla of Iconium. Like the Project Vox (projectvox.library.duke.edu) out of Duke University, the Band of Angels project aims to interrupt educational ‘habits’ that continue to exclude women. Many teachers and community leaders are interested in bringing women into the center of our understanding of early Christianity, but do not have easy access to resources that will help them to correct the record. The Band of Angels project (BandOfAngels.org) intends to remove those obstacles by collecting and providing an online resource with links to primary sources, bibliographies, and useful web links, with extracts from Cooper’s book as an initial gateway.