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Pamela Reaves

Assistant Professor

I am a historian of religion in the ancient Mediterranean world, specializing in New Testament and early Christian studies. My research primarily focuses on second-century Christian traditions, particularly those that reflect diverse perspectives and related rifts among early Christians. My current project examines three early Christian texts that minimize or reject the significance of a martyr’s death—the Coptic Apocalypse of Peter (NHC VII,3), the Testimony of Truth (NHC IX,3), and Clement of Alexandria’s Stromateis, Book IV. I demonstrate how their views align with their particular understandings of Christ; in all three cases, Christ’s death appears as relatively insignificant, thus mitigating the notion of martyrdom as appropriate imitation. I also highlight the common emphasis on individual Christian progress, centered on gaining gnosis and rooted in a contemporary philosophical interest in the self. I argue that such interior interests, combined with a limited concern for ecclesiastical matters, including rituals that reflect and sustain group identity, further contribute to each text’s evaluation of martyrdom. Furthermore, since positions on martyrdom surface in the context of intra-Christian debate in all three texts, I assert that disputes regarding its value extended group divisions, contributing to the emergence of “orthodoxy” and “heresy.” In addition to my study of Gnostic traditions and martyrdom, my research interests include the development of the New Testament text and canon; early Christian apocrypha; the history of biblical interpretation; and gender and sexuality in the ancient world.


New Testament & Early Christianity
Second Temple Judaism
Hebrew Bible
Greco-Roman Religions
History of Christianity

Regular Classes

RE 110 The Bible: Myth & History
RE 200 Greco-Roman Religions
RE 200 Lost Christianities (FYE, with Devaka Premawardhana)
RE 206 Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Traditions
RE 205 Gnosticism
RE 213 Apocalypse
RE 305 Making & Faking Scriptures
RE 405 Senior Thesis Preparation
RE 406 Senior Thesis



    Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2013
    M.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2003
    B.A., Centre College, Phi Beta Kappa, 1998


    Papers & Publications