Dr M. David Litwa

Research Fellow
Biblical and Early Christian Studies

Dr M. David Litwa

Areas of expertise: Greco-Roman religions; Philonic Studies; gospel and Pauline literature; heresiology; gnostic and Nag Hammadi studies; ancient philosophy; ancient mythology; deification (theosis); ancient esoteric movements (in particular, Greek mystery cults); ruler worship

HDR Supervisor accreditation status: Provisional

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-4778-045X

Email: David.litwa@acu.edu.au

Location: ACU Melbourne Campus

I am a scholar of ancient Mediterranean religions with a focus on the New Testament and early Christianity. My current research question focuses on the development of earliest Christianities in Alexandria, Egypt. I plan to offer a future commentary on the Naassene Sermon as well as an annotated translation of Clement’s Stromata books 4-6.

Before joining ACU, I taught at Virginia Tech, the College of William & Mary, and the University of Virginia (UVA). In 2012, I received my Ph.D. from the Religious Studies department at UVA. Prior to that I received an M.Div at Emory University and a Th.M. at Duke University. Currently I serve as unit chair of the Bible, Myth, and Myth Theory Group at the Society of Biblical Literature and as co-chair of the Biblical and Early Christian Studies Seminar at ACU.

Visit website

Select publications


  • (2022) Carpocrates, Marcellina, and Epiphanes: Three Early Christian Teachers of Alexandria and Rome, (Routledge).
  • (2022) Found Christianities: Remaking the World in the Second Century, (Bloomsbury)
  • (2021) The Evil Creator: Origins of an Early Christian Idea (Oxford).
  • (2021) Posthuman Transformation in Ancient Mediterranean Thought: Becoming Angels and Demons, (Cambridge University Press).
  • (2019) How the Gospels Became History: Jesus and Mediterranean Myths, (Yale University Press).
  • (2018) Hermetica II: The Excerpts of Stobaeus, Papyrus Fragments, and Ancient Testimonies in a English Translation with Notes and Introductions, (Cambridge University Press).
  • (2016) Desiring Divinity: Self-deification in Ancient Jewish and Christian Mythmaking, (Oxford University Press).
  • (2016) Refutation of All Heresies: Text, Translation, and Notes, Writings from the Greco-Roman World, (Atlanta: SBL Press).
  • (2014) Iesus Deus: The Early Christian Depiction of Jesus as a Mediterranean God, (Minneapolis: Fortress).
  • (2013) Becoming Divine: An Introduction to Deification in Western Culture, (Eugene, OR: Cascade).
  • (2012) We Are Being Transformed: Deification in Paul’s Soteriology, Beihefte zum Zeitschrift für Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 187, (Walter de Gruyter).

Journal articles

  • (forthcoming) “Equal to Angels: The Early Reception History of the Lukan ἰσάγγελοι (Luke 20:36),” from the Journal of Biblical Literature 140:3: 601-22.
  • (2022) “The So-called Stratiotics and Phibionites: Three Notes on the “Gnostics” of Epiphanius, Panarion 26,” Vigiliae Christianae 76: 73-93.
  • (2021) “Did Marion Call the Creator ‘God’?” Journal of  Theological Studies 72:1: 231-45.
  • (2020) “The Father of the Devil (John 8:44): A Christian Exegetical Inspiration for the Evil Creator,” Vigiliae Christianae 74.5, 40-65.
  • (2018) “Literary Eyewitnesses: The Appeal to an Eyewitness in John and Contemporaneous Literature,” New Testament Studies 64.3, 343-61.
  • (2017) “Paul the ‘god’ in Acts 28: A Comparison with Philoctetes,” Journal of Biblical Literature 136.3, 707-26.
  • (2017) “You are Gods”: Deification in the Naassene Writer and Clement of Alexandria,” Harvard Theological Review, 110.1, 125-48.
  • (2016) “Gnostic Self-deification: The Case of Simon of Samaria,” Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies 1, 157-76.
  • (2016) “Phikola: A Mysteries Goddess at Phlya,” Religion in the Roman Empire 2.2, 279-93.
  • (2015) “‘I Will Become Him’: Homology and Deification in the Gospel of Thomas,” Journal of Biblical Literature 133.2, 427-47.
  • (2014) “The Deification of Moses in Philo of Alexandria,” Studia Philonica Annual 26, 1-27.
  • (2014) “The Wondrous Exchange: Irenaeus and Eastern Valentinians on the Soteriology of Interchange,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 22, 311-41.
  • (2014) “The God ‘Human’ and Human Gods: Models of Deification in Irenaeus and the Apocryphon of John,” Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum 18, 70-94.
  • (2012) “Transformation through a Mirror: Moses in 2 Cor 3:18,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 34, 286-97.
  • (2011) “Paul’s Mosaic Ascent: An Interpretation of 2 Cor 12:7-9,” New Testament Studies 57 : 238-57

Appointments and affiliations

  • Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas (SNTS)
  • Society of Biblical Literature (SBL)
  • North American Patristics Society (NAPS)

Editorial roles

  • Journal of Early Christian Studies (JECS) (2019)
  • Cambridge University Press (2016, 2019)
  • Cornell University Press (2018)
  • Australian Journal of Jewish Studies (2020)
  • Baylor University Press (2020)
  • Brill (2021)
  • Bloomsbury (2021)

Public engagement


ACU Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

Mailing address

C/- 115 Victoria Pde
Fitzroy, VIC, 3065.