September 24, 2019

Barry Publishes Article in Studies in Late Antiquity

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Jennifer Barry

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Jennifer Barry

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Jennifer Barry published her latest article in the special issue on clerical exile in the peer-reviewed academic journal Studies in Late Antiquity. Her article, “Damning Nicomedia: The Spatial Consequences of Exile,” builds on work from her published monograph Bishops in Flight and incorporates material from the digital humanities Clerical Exile data base.

The article abstract is as follows:

All Christian flights were not created equal. With the aid of pro-Nicene authors, Athanasius of Alexandria’s multiple flights quickly became the standard for an orthodox exile. The charge of cowardice, or worse, heresy, was not so easily dismissed, however. While the famed Athanasius would explain away such charges in his own writings, as did many of his later defenders, not all fleeing bishops could escape a damning verdict. In this article, I explore how the enemies of Nicaea, re-read as the enemies of Athanasius, also found themselves in exile. Their episcopal flights were no testament to their virtue but within pro-Nicene Christian memory of fifth-century ecclesiastical historians, the exiles of anti-Nicene bishops, such as Eusebius of Nicomedia, were remembered as evidence of guilt. To show how this memory-making exercise took place we will turn to the imperial landscape and assess how the space someone was exiled from greatly shaped how exile was deemed either orthodox or heretical. 

Barry Publishes Monograph Bishops in Flight

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Jennifer Barry

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Jennifer Barry

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Jennifer Barry published her first monograph, Bishops in Flight: Exile and Displacement in Late Antiquity, with the University of California Press.

A free open access ebook is available upon publication. Learn more at

Book Abstract:
Flight during times of persecution has a long and fraught history in early Christianity. In the third century, bishops who fled were considered cowards or, worse yet, heretics. On the face, flight meant denial of Christ and thus betrayal of faith and community. But by the fourth century, the terms of persecution changed as Christianity became the favored cult of the Roman Empire. Prominent Christians who fled and survived became founders and influencers of Christianity over time.

Bishops in Flight examines the various ways these episcopal leaders both appealed to and altered the discourse of Christian flight to defend their status as purveyors of Christian truth, even when their exiles appeared to condemn them. Their stories illuminate how profoundly Christian authors deployed theological discourse and the rhetoric of heresy to respond to the phenomenal political instability of the fourth and fifth centuries.

Jennifer Barry Quoted in Daily Beast Article

Assistant Professor of Religion Jennifer Barry was recently interviewed and quoted in the online news and opinion site the Daily Beast. The article is titled, “Egeria, One of Christianity’s First Female Pilgrims, Was a Badass” and written by Candida Moss (the Edward Cadbury Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham, UK).

The article, written for a public audience, draws attention to a famous early Christian pilgrim whose work is one of the rare occasions of a woman writing and reflecting on her travels in the ancient world (4th c. CE).

Barry frequently teaches on Egeria and other notable early Christian women in her courses and was sought out by Dr. Moss for her expertise and interest in the study of gender and religion.

Barry Presents at International Conferences in United Kingdom

Jennifer Barry, Assistant Professor of Religion at the University of Mary Washington, recently attended three conferences and one workshop in the United Kingdom. Barry was invited to present a paper at the Birkbeck Institute, University of London for the “Exiles, Sanctions and Punishments in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages” colloquium. Professor Barry was then invited to present a paper at the International Medieval Congress hosted by the University of Leeds. Both events allowed Barry to showcase material stemming out of her forthcoming book, Bishops in Flight: Exile and Displacement in Late Antiquity.

Professor Barry was also invited to attend the pre-conference workshop and conference on Religion & Rape Culture, which was supported by The Shiloh Project. Barry is now an active member of the project and will be co-developing a pedagogical research group alongside of her University of Sheffield colleague Meredith Warren. The working group will focus on teaching rape culture in the religious studies classroom.

Barry Presents on Gender Violence

Jennifer Barry, assistant professor of religion, presented a portion of her recent work at the Women’s and Gender Studies Brown Bag lunch on Wednesday, Jan. 24.

The talk was the result of her Faculty Research Grant awarded for the 2017-2018 academic year. Barry’s next major book project is on male fantasies of gender violence in late antiquity.

A description of the talk, called “Dismissing Sexual Violence: Augustine and the Sack of Rome,” follows:

Sexual violence during times of war is infinitely complex, particularly when religion informs the historical narrative. A famous example of invasion and destruction that lives on in Christian memory is the sack of Rome in 410 C.E. And yet, the details regarding sexual violence are often skipped over. The noted exception is preserved in Augustine’s most famous work the City of God. In this story, we discover hidden among the remains of Rome’s fallen heroes the bodies of sexually violated women. They are buried deep within the polemical layers of Book I. While these women, and their experiences, are the focal point of Augustine’s narrative, we may nonetheless find it surprisingly difficult to hang onto or even trust their horrific accounts. This talk explores the pressing question: Why does Augustine make it so easy to forget the victims of sexual violence?


Barry Publishes Article on Exile in Early Christianity

Jennifer Barry, Assistant Professor of Religion, has published an article titled “Receptions of Exile: Athanasius of Alexandria’s legacy,” in the collected volume Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity edited by Julia Hillner, Joerg Ulrich and Jakob Engberg. This article is the result of a pre-arranged collaborative project held at the International Patristic Society Conference held at Oxford University, U.K. (July 2015). Barry’s contribution stems from her larger work on clerical exile in late antiquity.

Chapter abstract:

This chapter examines how the stories of Athanasius of Alexandria’s many exiles became a popular literary schema that circulated within pro-Nicene Christian literature during the late fourth and early fifth centuries. I argue that Athanasius’s identity as a triumphant exile quickly became the standard by which subsequent episcopal exiles were measured. Indeed, by the time the Johanite controversy of the fifth century takes shape in and around Constantinople, Athanasius the exile is invoked to bolster support for John Chrysostom’s tarnished reputation as a failed exile. John’s earliest biographers, Ps.-Martyrius and Palladius of Helenopolis, insist that those who question their hero’s orthodoxy are no better than those heretical enemies of the great Athanasius.

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. 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 ( 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 ( 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.