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Jonathan Zecher

Jonathan Zecher

Visiting Assistant Professor in the Honors College
The Honors College
Classical Studies 

B. A., St. John’s College; M.A.T.R., Ph. D. Durham University.

Biographical Summary

My research interests include primarily historical Christian theology and ascetic spirituality, Byzantine history, and Eastern Christian theology and liturgy. These various interests are all held together by the common thread of death as existential concern and means of identity-formation. The upshot is that I spend much of my time talking about dying, and how one dies, and what happens when one dies.

My publications thus far include:

  • 'The Angelic Life in Desert and Ladder', Journal of Early Christian Studies 21:1 (Spring, 2013)
  • 'Death's Spiraling Narrative: On 'Reading' the Orthodox Funeral', Studia Liturgica 41:2 (Summer, 2012)
  • 'Death and the Possibility of a Ladder', Studia Patristica 52 (Louvain: Peeters, 2012)
  • 'Tradition and Creativity in the Construction and Reading of the Philokalia', in Brock Bingaman and Bradley Nassif (eds.), The Philokalia: Exploring the Classic Text of Orthodox Spirituality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2012)

Currently under submission with the Journal of Late Antiquity is a paper which I recently gave at the annual meeting of the North American Patristics Society, entitled, “Athanasius and Egyptian Mortuary Religion”. In it I look at various versions of a vision of death to better understand how Christian and traditional Egyptian views of the afterlife came into contact—and conflict—in late antique Egypt.

I am currently reprising research on Christian martyrdom for another course here at UH, entitled “Violence and Martyrdom”, which will begin this Fall. In it I am fortunate enough to get to continue looking at the ways in which death creates identity, as we ask questions like “What differentiates martyrdom and suicide? Why were Christians so eager for martyrdom, and why did its language come to dominate Christian self-understanding?” I am particularly excited by the ways in which the whole ancient Mediterranean contributed to this phenomenon: Greek philosophical literature, Roman heroism, Jewish Scriptures, and early Christian writings all colluded to create, sustain, and nuance the phenomenon of “martyrdom.”