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

  • Monographs
    • How the Gospels Became History: Jesus and Mediterranean Myths (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019)
    • Hermetica II: The Excerpts of Stobaeus, Papyrus Fragments, and Ancient Testimonies in a English Translation with Notes and Introductions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018).
    • Desiring Divinity: Self-deification in Ancient Jewish and Christian Mythmaking (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).
    • Refutation of All Heresies: Text, Translation, and Notes, Writings from the Greco-Roman World40 (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2016).
    • Iesus Deus: The Early Christian Depiction of Jesus as a Mediterranean God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014).
    • Becoming Divine: An Introduction to Deification in Western Culture (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2013).
    • We Are Being Transformed: Deification in Paul’s Soteriology,Beihefte zum Zeitschrift für Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 187 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2012).
  • Articles in Peer-Reviewed Journals
    • “Literary Eyewitnesses: The Appeal to an Eyewitness in John and Contemporaneous Literature,” New Testament Studies 64:3 (2018): 343-61.
    • “Paul the ‘god’ in Acts 28: A Comparison with Philoctetes,” Journal of Biblical Literature 136:3 (2017): 707-26.
    • “You are Gods”: Deification in the Naassene Writer and Clement of Alexandria,” Harvard Theological Review, 110:1 (2017): 125-48.
    • “Gnostic Self-deification: The Case of Simon of Samaria,” Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies 1 (2016): 157-76.
    • “Phikola: A Mysteries Goddess at Phlya,” Religion in the Roman Empire 2:2 (2016): 279-93.
    • “‘I Will Become Him’: Homology and Deification in the Gospel of Thomas,” Journal of Biblical Literature 133:2 (2015): 427-47.
    • “The Deification of Moses in Philo of Alexandria,” Studia Philonica Annual 26 (2014): 1-27.
    • “The Wondrous Exchange: Irenaeus and Eastern Valentinians on the Soteriology of Interchange,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 22 (2014): 311-41.
    • “The God ‘Human’ and Human Gods: Models of Deification in Irenaeus and the Apocryphon of John,” Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum 18 (2014): 70-94.
    • “Transformation through a Mirror: Moses in 2 Cor 3:18,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 34 (2012): 286-97.

Public engagement

Editorial roles

  • Reviewer for Journal of Early Christian Studies (JECS), Cambridge University Press, Cornell University Press.

ACU Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

Visit us

Level 4, 250 Victoria Parade
East Melbourne, Victoria, 3002.

Mailing address

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