Teaching Philosophy

Although I teach ancient Christianity, most of my students—undergraduate and graduate—are primarily engaged other fields of study. The content of my courses, then, is less important than the transferable skills they provide—especially critical reasoning skills. In an age of fake news, deepfakes, and social media bubbles, I want my students to become self-aware consumers of knowledge, conscious of their own assumptions and biases and ready to interrogate every claim they encounter. As a rule, then, I try to pair homework readings that exist in some sort of tension or debate, inviting students to take active and critical—not passive—stances towards what they read.

Another signature of my courses are quick-writes meant to (a) facilitate active learning and (b) help me be a more responsive instructor. My smaller classes incorporate “Prompts” (guided questions) that press students to respond to their readings, synthesizing the knowledge they have gained. In my larger classes, I also require students to provide three sentences of feedback to every class session, whether questions, comments, or reactions. This regular feedback helps me identify gaps in student knowledge—gaps I can address in future lectures, Q&A sessions, and even exam study guides. A good exam prep, after all, should challenge students to overcome their weaknesses and learn.

Courses Taught

A select glimpse at my teaching history

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Metacriticism of New Testament Studies

Yale Divinity School

Galatians and Romans: Greek Exegesis
Gospel and Epistles of John
The Parting of the Ways: Synagogue and Church
New Testament Poetics: Hymns and Prayers
The Cult of Martyrs in Early Christianity
Churches of the East (co-taught with Bryan Spinks)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The Gospel of John and its Earliest Readers
The Cult of Saints: Narratives, Materialities, Practices
Early Christian Bodies and Ritual
Mark Written and Rewritten
Paul and His Imitators
Religious Frauds: Lies, Forgeries, and Fake News
Christian Cultures: Eastern and Orthodox Christianities
Birth of Christianity
Jesus in Tradition and History
Introduction to the New Testament

Sample Courses

Abstracts of select courses with links to course materials.

RELI 607

The Gospel of John and its Earliest Readers

Advanced Undergraduate/Graduate

This course traces the evolution of John—both as a written text and as an object of interpretation—to illuminate the shifting interests and anxieties of Christians living in the 1st–3rd centuries CE.

RELI 207

Jesus in the Early Christian Gospels

Lower-level undergraduate (Renamed since taught)

This course explores the variety of traditions used in the first two centuries to portray Jesus, focusing on the reasons for this variety and the historical and literary problems it presents.