Professor Christopher Ocker

Professor of Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Professor Christopher Ocker

Areas of expertise: late medieval and early modern Europe; Central Europe; the Reformations; religious conflict; property; politics; theology; biblical interpretation

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-1736-835X

Phone: +61 3 9230 8420


Location: ACU Melbourne Campus

A historian of religion in medieval and early modern Europe, Professor Ocker has special interest in the Reformation, its medieval background, religious conflict, materialism, and cultural entanglement. His research and publications focus on Christianity before the Enlightenment. He welcomes inquiries from prospective graduate students who share any of these interests. 

Ocker leads the project, “Religious Mobilities: Europe and the Medieval and Early Modern World.” He is a member of “Recognizing Religions: The Cultural Dynamics of Religious Encounters and Interactions in Historical Perspective,” a joint initiative between NYU Abu Dhabi, Australian Catholic University, and “The European Qur’an (EuQu)” (University of Copenhagen). And he is member of the Global Association for the Historical Research of Monasticism

Before coming to ACU, Professor Ocker was Chair of the Department of Cultural and Historical Studies of Religion at the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley and Professor of History at the San Francisco Theological Seminary. He has been a von Humboldt fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute for History, fellow of the Institute of European History in Mainz and the Institute for Advanced Study in Constance, and a visiting scholar at Cambridge and the American Academy in Rome. He also concurrently serves as Assistant Provost of the Graduate School of Theology and Interim Dean of San Francisco Theological Seminary at the University of Redlands.

Download CV (PDF, 294KB)

Select publications


  • (2022) The Hybrid Reformation: A Social, Cultural, and Intellectual History of Contending Forces. Cambridge University Press.
  • (2018) Luther, Conflict, and Christendom: Reformation Europe and Christianity in the West, Cambridge University Press.
  • (2006) Church-Robbers and Reformers in Germany, 1525-1547: Confiscation and Religious Purpose in the Holy Roman Empire. Leiden: E.J. Brill.
  • (2002) Biblical Poetics before Humanism and Reformation. Cambridge University Press.  

Edited Books

  • (2020) Co-Editor, with Susanna Elm, Material Christianity: Western Religion and the Agency of Things. Amsterdam: Springer.
  • (2008) Associate Editor. The New Westminster Dictionary of Church History. Louisville: Westminster John Knox.
    (2007) Coordinating Editor, with Michael Printy, Peter Starenko, Peter Wallace. Politics and Reformations: Histories and Reformations—Essays in Honor of Thomas A. Brady, Jr. Leiden: E.J. Brill.
  • (2007) Coordinating Editor, with Michael Printy, Peter Starenko, Peter Wallace. Politics and Reformations: Communities, Polities, Nations, and Empires—Essays in Honor of Thomas A. Brady, Jr. Leiden: E.J. Brill.

Book Chapters and Articles 

  • (2022) “Hebrew Idiom and Figurative Reading between Theodolf of Orléans and the Victorines: An Unstable Textuality.” In From Theodulf to Rashi: Uncovering the Origins of European Biblical Scholarship, edited by Johannes Heil, Sumi Shimahara. Leiden: E.J. Brill.
  • (2020) With Susanna Elm, “Christianity and the Material, Medieval to Modern.” InMaterial Christianity, 1-25.
  • (2020) “Resacralizing the Media of Grace.” InMaterial Christianity, 69-102.
  • (2021) “Calvin and Calvinism in Germany.” In The Oxford Handbook of Calvin and Calvinism, edited by Bruce Gordon and Carl Trueman, 200-219. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • (2021) “Disruption and Engagement: Christendom’s Experience of Islam at the End of the Middle Ages.” In Unordnung. Festchrift für Gert Melville zum 70. Geburtstag, 179-209. Berlin: De Gruyter.
  • (2020) “The Motion of Another’s Death.” In Death, Burial and Remembrance in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe 1300-1700 (Brill Companions to the Christian Tradition), 368-392. Leiden: E.J. Brill.
  • (2019) “Spirit, Writers, and Biblical Readers in ‘the Practical Circumstances of Life’: A Political Hermeneutic.” In Sola scriptura heute, edited by Stefan Alkier, 59-82. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.
  • (2019) “Sexual Crime and Political Conflict: An Alsatian Nobleman Is Burned to Death with His Male Lover in 1482.” In A Sourcebook of Early Modern History: Life, Death, and Everything in Between. In Honor of Susan C. Karant-Nunn, edited by Ute Lotz-Heumann. New York: Routledge.
  • (2017) “After the Peasants War: Barbara von Fuchstein Fights for Her Property.” Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Reforme, 40:141-159.
  • (2017) “Anti-Judaism and Anti-Semitism.” Oxford Encyclopedia of Martin Luther, edited by Derek Nelson and Paul Hinlicky. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • (2016) “Explaining Evil and Grace.” In The Oxford Handbook of the Reformation, edited by Ulinka Rublack, 23-46. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • (2015) With Kevin Madigan, “After Beryl Smalley: Thirty Years of Medieval Exegesis, 1984-2013,” Journal of the Bible and Its Reception 2:87-130.
  • (2014) “The Four Senses of Scripture.” In The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, edited by Dale Allison, Jr., Volker Leppin, Choon-Leong Seow, Hermann Spieckermann, Barry Dov Walfish, and Eric Ziolkowski, Vol. 9, pages 551-556. Berlin: De Gruyter.
  • (2013) “Typology.”Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine, edited by Karla Pollmann.Oxford University Press.
  • (2013) “The Physiology of Spirit in the Reformation: Medical Consensus and Protestant Theologians. In Miracle Stories Revisited, edited by Annette Weissenrieder and Stefan Alkier, 115-156. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.
  • (2012) “The German Reformation and Medieval Thought and Culture.”History Compass 10: 13-46.
  • (2010) “The Birth of an Empire of Two Churches: Church Property, Theologians, and the League of Schmalkalden.” Austrian History Yearbook 41: 48-67.
  • (2010) “Between the Old Faith and the New: Spiritual Loss in Reformation Germany.” In Enduring Loss in Early Modern Germany,edited by Lynn Tatlock, 231-258.Leiden: E.J. Brill.
  • (2007) “Calvin in Germany.” In Politics and Reformations: Histories and Reformations—Essays in Honor of Thomas A. Brady, Jr., pp. 313-344.
  • (2007) “Taverns and the Self at the Dawn of the Reformation.” Image and Imagination of the Religious Self in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, edited by Reindert Falkenburg and Walter Melion, 215-236. Turnhout: Brepols.
  • (2006) “Lacrima ecclesie. Konrad of Megenberg, the Friars, and the Beguines.” In Das Wissen der Zeit. Konrad von Megenberg (1309-1374) und sein Werk, edited by Claudia Märtl, Gisela Drossbach, and Martin Kitzinger, 169-200. Zeitschfrift für Bayerische Landesgeschichte, Beiheft 31.Munich: C.H. Beck.
  • (2006) “German Theologians and the Jews in the Fifteenth Century.” In Jews, Judaism and the Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Germany, edited by Dean Phillip Bell and Stephen G. Burnett, 33-65.Leiden: E.J. Brill.
  • (2005) “Limits of Cultural Exchange in the Papal Missions to the Far East.” In Xin yang zhi jian de zhong yao xiang yu: Ya Zhou yu xi fang de zong jiao wen hua jiao liu guo ji xue shu yan tao hui wen ji (Faithful/fateful encounters religion and cultural exchanges between Asia and the West, proceedings from an international conference), edited by Zhuo Xinping, Judith Berling, Philip Wickeri, Marina True, and Huang Kui, 530-543. Beijing: Zong jiao wen hua chu ban she.
  • (2004) “Contempt for Jews and Contempt for Friars in Late Medieval Germany.” In Friars and Jews in the Middle Ages and Renaissance,edited by Steven McMichael and Susan E. Myers, 119-146.Leiden: E.J. Brill.
  • (1998) “Ritual Murder and the Subjectivity of Christ: A Choice in Medieval Christianity.” Harvard Theological Review 91:153-192.
  • (1991) “Augustine, Episcopal Interests, and the Papacy in Late Roman Africa.” The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 42:179-201.
  • (1986) “`Unius arbitrio mundum regi necesse est.’Lactantius’ Concern for the Preservation of Roman Society,” Vigiliae Christianae 40:348-64.


Public engagement

Editorial roles

  • Senior Editor, Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions. Leiden: E.J. Brill. 
  • Co-Editor, Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte. Berlin: De Gruyter. 
  • Co-Editor, Journal of the Bible and Its Reception. Berlin: De Gruyter. 
  • Member of the Editorial Board, Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 

International journal review panel roles

  • Standing Contributor, Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte, Literaturbericht, 2003-2019. Provide reviews of works on theology and religion, 1450-1500.

  • Reviewer of articles and book manuscripts for Speculum: The Journal of the Medieval Academy of America, Harvard Theological Review, Cambridge University Press, E.J. Brill, Springer, Berghan Press, etc.

Grant agency review panel 

Outside reviewer of fellowship proposals for the Fellowship for the Study of the Arab World, New York University Abu Dhabi; American Philosophical Society; Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek –Vlaanderen (Belgian Foundation of Scientific Research); Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research; Swiss National Science Foundation; Fond zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (National Fund for the Promotion of Scientific Research), Austria; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; National Endowment for the Humanities.

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