Maria Doerfler

Visiting Research Scholar 2014-15

Maria E. Doerfler received her Ph.D. from Duke in 2013 and has since served as Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity at Duke Divinity School. A historian of exegesis, her research interests range from the Syriac East to the Latin West.  Her particular focus lies with the deployment of texts and their interpretation in situations of personal or communal crisis.  Her dissertation monograph, currently under review with a university press, seeks to address the interplay between philosophical, exegetical, and Roman legal discourses in monastic settings at the turn of the fifth century.  Other recent publications include articles on the rhetorical construction of Judaism in Ambrose of Milan (Church History), North African approaches to ascetic exegesis (Journal of Early Christian Studies), Trinitarian developments in early Christian interpretations of Genesis 18 (Journal of Ecclesiastical History), and the death of children in Eastern Patristic literature (Le Muséon).

During her time at ISAW, she will begin to lay the groundwork for her second book, a study of Christian responses to childhood and infant mortality in late antiquity. The monograph will orient itself around a set of commonly deployed passages from the Hebrew Scriptures and, to a lesser extent, the New Testament, by which Christians sought to lament, console the grieving, reason about death, and even indict God over the untimely passing of children.