Personal profile

Research interests

Research Interests

My main research interest is the religious history of the later Roman period, particularly explanations for religious change and the success of Christianity and understanding religious interaction between Christians and non-Christians in late antiquity.

In 2007 I published Religious Identity in Late Antiquity: Greeks, Jews and Christians in Antioch which used the work of Pierre Bourdieu and the writings of Libanius and John Chrysostom to develop a new model for understanding religious interaction in late antiquity. My other published works include: (ed. with William John Lyons) Delivering the Word: Preaching and Exegesis in the Western Christian Tradition; (ed. with Janet Huskinson) Culture and Society in Later Roman Antioch; (ed. with C. Harrison and C. Humfress) Being Christian in Late Antiquity: A Festschrift for Gillian Clark and numerous articles on fourth-century preaching and the late antique religious situation more broadly.

I am currently exploring how cognitive science, and particularly cognitive poetics and the cognitive science of religion (CSR), can help us understand questions about the communication and dissemination of Christian ideas in late antiquity. I am currently writing a monograph using conceptual metaphor theory to explore Gregory of Nyssa’s use of analogies of kinship and begetting for the for the first two persons of the Trinity. I am also continuing to work on issues of audience reception of fourth-century preaching and preaching as communication and the use of communication theory and cognitive science as ways to develop new models for approaching these issues.

In 2018 I organized a workshop/initial networking event on Cognitive Approaches to Ancient Christianity and I have presented a number of papers at conferences and workshops on my own work on cognitive approaches to preaching and the dissemination of Christian doctrine in late antiquity.

I am on the editorial board for Brill’s new series Critical Approaches to Early Christianity. I have held grants funded by the British Academy (2007) and Dumbarton Oaks (2009).



Room 2.38, 11 Woodland Road.

0117 928 9020


Research Supervision

I would be interested in taking on postgraduate students with research interests in Roman religion, ancient Christianity and late antiquity and in particular: the late antique religious situation, preaching and the application of cognitive science to Roman religion or ancient Christianity.


My teaching interests are in Roman and Greek history.


Current teaching includes:

Ancient Historical Writers (first year mandatory unit)

Historical Topic: Hellenistic World (first year mandatory unit)

Pagans and Christians in Late Antiquity (third year optional unit)


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