David Frankfurter

Aurelio Professor of the Appreciation of Scripture, College of Arts & Sciences

David Frankfurter joined the faculty of BU in the fall of 2010. A scholar of ancient Mediterranean religions with specialties in Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature, magical texts, popular religion, and Egypt in the Roman and late antique periods, Frankfurter’s particular interests revolve around theoretical issues like the place of magic in religion, the relationship of religion and violence, the nature of Christianization, and the representation of evil in culture. He teaches courses on Western religions, comparative religions, Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature, and the documents of early Christianity, including extra-canonical sources, magical texts, and saints’ lives. After earning his B.A. in Religion from Wesleyan University, M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School, and M.A./Ph.D. from Princeton University, Frankfurter taught at the College of Charleston and the University of New Hampshire, and he held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study (1993-95) and the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study (2007-8), as well as research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (1992) and the Guggenheim Foundation (2007-8).

His publications include Elijah in Upper Egypt (Fortress Press, 1993), on an unusual early Christian prophecy that envisioned the endtimes in Egyptian terms; Religion in Roman Egypt: Assimilation and Resistance(Princeton University Press,1998), which shows the different ways Egyptian religion continued despite the decline of temples and rise of Christianity; and Evil Incarnate: Rumors of Demonic Conspiracy and Satanic Abuse in History (Princeton University Press, 2006), on the ways that cultures and religious movements envision evil as an active, personified force; as well as the edited volume Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt (E.J. Brill, 1998).

Both Religion in Roman Egypt and Evil Incarnate won the American Academy of Religion’s Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion (Historical and Analytic-Descriptive categories). His articles have appeared in such venues as Journal of Early Christian Studies, Harvard Theological Review, Journal of the History of Sexuality, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, Numen, and History of Religions. He is also co-editor of the Brill series Religions of the Greco-Roman World. His current research, tentatively entitled Christianizing Egypt: Syncretism and Local Worlds in Late Antiquity, concerns the various religious sites in late Roman Egypt, like homes, shrines, and workshops, where Christianity was combined with Egyptian traditions.