Nicole Kelley

Associate Professor of Religion
Dr. Nicole Kelley

Contact Information

Religions of Western Antiquity
Office Location
211 Dodd Hall
Resume / CV


Nicole Kelley (Ph.D. ’03, Harvard University, The Study of Religion: New Testament and Christian Origins) teaches courses in the area of ancient Christianity. Her research focuses on Christian apocryphal literature, the interaction between late antique Jews and Christians, martyrdom and religious violence, the production and contestation of religious identities in the ancient world, and ancient conceptions of the body as an artifact of religious import. She is currently working on a book provisionally entitled The Church Body:  Deformity and Disability in Ancient Christianity, which examines the religious significance of congenital deformities in late antique and early medieval Christian writings.

Research Interests

  • Christian representations of deformities and disabilities 
  • Pseudo-Clementines 
  • Illness and healing in the ancient world 
  • Christian martyr acts 
  • Ancient magic and astrology 

Selected Publications

  • “The Deformed Child in Ancient Christianity,” in Children in Ancient Christianity, ed. Cornelia B. Horn (Mohr Siebeck, forthcoming). 
  • “Astrology in the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 59.4 (2008), 607-629. 
  • “The Theological Significance of Physical Deformity in the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies,” Perspectives in Religious Studies 34 (2007), 77-90. 
  • “Philosophy as Training for Death:  Reading the Ancient Christian Martyr Acts as Spiritual Exercises,” Church History 75.4 (2006), 723-747. 
  • “Problems of Knowledge and Authority in the Pseudo-Clementine Romance of Recognitions,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 13.3 (2005), 315-348. 
  • “The Cosmopolitan Expression of Josephus’ Prophetic Perspective in the Jewish War,” Harvard Theological Review 97.3 (2004) 257-274. 

Conference Presentations

  • “Epilepsy in Late Antique Christian Writings,” presented at the Disability Studies and Healthcare in the Bible and Near East section, AAR/SBL Annual Meeting, November 2007 
  • “The Epidemiology of Religion in the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies,” presented at the XV International Conference on Patristic Studies, Oxford UK, August 2007 
  • “On Recycling Texts and Traditions:  The Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions and Religious Life in Fourth-Century Syria,” presented at the colloquium “Late Antique Crossroads in the Levant: Space, Ritual, Texts and Daily Life,” Montreal, Canada, November 2006 
  • “Pseudo-Clementine Polemics against Sacrifice:  A Window onto Religious Life in the Fourth Century?”, presented at the colloquium “Christian Apocryphal Texts for the New Millennium:  Achievements, Prospects, and Challenges,” Ottawa, Canada, September-October 2006 
  • “What is the Value of Sense Perception in the Pseudo-Clementine Romance?”, presented at the Colloquium on the Pseudo-Clementine Romance, Lausanne and Geneva, Switzerland, July-August 2006 
  • “Astrological Knowledge and Apostolic Competition:  The Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions in the Context of Fourth-Century Syria,” presented at the Christian Apocrypha Section, AAR/SBL Annual Meeting, November 2005 

Teaching Specializations

  • New Testament Gospels and Acts 
  • Suffering and martyrdom in ancient Christianity 
  • Christian apocryphal literature 
  • The body in ancient Christianity 

Recent Courses

Spring 2018
REL3293 Topics in Biblical Studies 

This course focuses on selected topics dealing with biblical writings in their ancient historical contexts and/or their interpretation in later period. Meets Liberal Studies: Cultural Practice (LS- CUL).

RLG5514: Christianity in Late Antiquity 

This reading intensive course is an advanced survey of important events, movements, ideas, and people in the development of Christianity during the fourth and fifth centuries CE.  The course is organized around a series of topics of particular significance in ancient Christianity, including the relationship between Christians and the Roman empire, Christological controversies, the formation of the canon, early creeds and councils, asceticism and monasticism, and the lives of the saints.  Particular emphasis is placed on careful reading of relevant primary texts in English translation. 

Fall 2017
REL2240: Introduction to the New Testament

This course introduces students to the writings of the New Testament in the context of the historical development of early Christianity. Meets LS Cultural Practice (LS-CUL) and Diversity in western Experience (DIV-YWE).

REL4510/RLG5516: Christianity after the New Testament

This course covers major developments in the history and theology of Christianity in the first three centuries of the Common Era.