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.

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 why some early Christian groups (so-called gnostic and Marcionite) came up with the idea of an evil creator. I have recently completed a project comparing ancient angelification and daimonification in dialogue with modern posthuman transformation.

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’m a member of the Steering Committee of the Bible, Myth, and Myth Theory Group at the Society of Biblical Literature, as well as a member of the Society of New Testament Studies (SNTS).

Select publications


  • (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

  • (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.

Public engagement

Editorial roles

  • Co-coordinator, Biblical and Early Christian Studies Seminar, ACU
  • Library Liaison for the IRCI, ACU
  • Unit Chair, Bible Myth and Myth Theory group at the Society of Biblical Literature
  • Reviewer for Journal of Early Christian Studies (JECS), Cambridge University Press, Cornell University Press, and Baylor University Press

ACU Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

Mailing address

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