Shaily Patel is assistant professor of early christianity in the Department of Religion and Culture at Virginia Tech. She earned her PhD from The University of North Carolina in 2017 and holds master’s degrees from Vanderbilt Divinity School and The University of Chicago. Her love for the ACC began as an undergraduate at Wake Forest University and remains firmly intact.
Dr. Patel’s research explores the various, often contradictory ways in which so-called magic was used to advance a number of theological ends in early Christian texts. Rather than seeing magic solely as a way to malign the rituals and traditions of those external to formative Christianity, she aims to show that magic could be used for a variety of things, from enforcing social cohesion among budding communities, to generating conversion, to correcting the views of other Christian writers. Ancient Mediterranean magic was both dynamic and complex, and Dr. Patel hopes to similarly complicate modern understandings of ancient Christians and their texts in her current book project entitled Peter the Magician: Discourses of Magic in Early Petrine Traditions.
Dr. Patel’s teaching is likewise dedicated to complicating easy assertions about the past, and about past Christians in particular. She teaches courses in New Testament, Christian apocryphal texts, orthodoxy and heresy, and demonology and exorcism. In each of her courses, she emphasizes the variety of early Christian groups and their respective beliefs. She locates early Christians within their cultural contexts, demonstrating how these multiple Christianities converge with or diverge from their Graeco-Roman origins.
- Early Christianity
- Ancient Mediterranean Religions
- Ancient Magic
- Graeco-Roman Religions
- Christian Apocrypha
- PhD in Ancient Mediterranean Religions, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2017
- MTS in New Testament, Vanderbilt Divinity School, 2009
- MA in New Testament, The University of Chicago Divinity School, 2007
- BA in Politics and Religion, Wake Forest University, 2004
- Member, American Academy of Religion
- Member, Society of Biblical Literature
- Member, North American Patristics Society
“Magical Practices and Discourses of Magic in Early Christian Traditions: Jesus, Peter, and Paul,” Dissertation Spotlight in Ancient Jew Review. January 29, 2019. Available online: https://www.ancientjewreview.com/articles/2018/8/27/dissertation-spotlight-magical-practices-and-discourses-of-magic-in-early-christian-traditions-jesus-peter-and-paul
“The Starhymn of Ignatius’ Epistle to the Ephesians: Reappropriation as Polemic,” Studia Patristica XCIII - Papers presented at the Seventeenth International Conference on Patristic Studies held in Oxford 2015. Vol. 19: The First Two Centuries; Apocrypha and Gnostica, ed. Markus Vinzent. (Leuven: Peeters, 2017): 93-105.
“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 (2017): 24-36. Co-authored with Melati Nungsari and Maia Dedrick. Available online: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/josotl/article/view/19772/29153
“Excursus: Forms of Ideological Criticism,” in The New Testament: An Historical Introduction, 6th ed., Bart D. Ehrman (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015): 192-4. Reprinted in A Brief Introduction to the New Testament, 4th ed., Bart D. Ehrman (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016). Reprinted in The New Testament: An Historical Introduction, 7th ed., Bart D. Ehrman (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019).
Select Media Mentions
Article ItemIs magic immoral? It played a role in the development of early Christianity , article
The Conversation, 4/14/2021
Article Item'Was Jesus a wizard'? is actually a serious scholarly question , article
The Daily Beast, 11/1/2020
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