Shaily Patel

Shaily Patel

Assistant Professor


207 Major Williams Hall
220 Stanger Street
Blacksburg, VA 24061




Department Membership

Religion and Culture


  • Early Christianity
  • Graeco-Roman Religions
  • Magic in Antiquity
  • Critical Theory
  • Ideological Criticism

Professional Activities

  • Society of Biblical Literature
  • American Academy of Religion
  • North American Patristics Society


  • Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2017)
  • M.T.S., Vanderbilt Divinity School (2009)
  • M.A., University of Chicago Divinity School (2007)
  • B.A., Wake Forest University (2004)

Research Interests

    Selected Publications


    Current book project: Enchanting the Past: Discourses of Magic in Early Christian Traditions.


    Patel, Shaily. “The Starhymn of Ignatius’ Epistle to the Ephesians: Reappropriation as Polemic.” Studia Patristica. Vol. XCIII - Papers presented at the Seventeenth International Conference on Patristic Studies held in Oxford 2015. Vol. 19: The First Two Centuries; Apocrypha and Gnostica (Leuven: Peeters, 2017): 93-105.

    Patel, Shaily, et. al. “Team Teaching an Interdisciplinary First-Year Seminar on Magic, Religion, and the Origins of Science: A ‘Pieces-to-Picture’ Approach.” Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 17.1 (Feb 2017): 4-36. 

    “Excursus: Forms of Ideological Criticism,” in Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: An Historical Introduction, 6th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press. 2015). Reprinted in Ehrman, Bart. A Brief Introduction to the New Testament, 4th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016). 

    Additional Information

    My research explores the various, often contradictory ways in which discourses of magic were used to advance myriad theological ends in early Christian literature. Rather than seeing magic as an exclusively rhetorical charge levied at the opponents of early Christians, I aim to show that magic had other ends, both contrastive and assimilatory. Christian narratives of magical practices were used to generate conversion, create consensus between opposing factions, provide correctives to other Christian writers, as well as malign theological opponents. In my current project, I hope to complicate modern understandings of ancient Christian magic.