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Julia Kelto Lillis

Former Postdoctoral Fellow


  • Ph.D., Duke University
  • Th.M., Princeton Theological Seminary
  • M.Div., Princeton Theological Seminary
  • B.A., St. Olaf College

Research Interests

Julia Kelto Lillis is a Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in New Testament and Early Christianity.  Her primary research interests are in ancient constructions of social difference, especially in areas we today call gender and sexuality, and the ways these are discussed in early Christian literature.  Her doctoral work at Duke University focused on Early Christianity, with secondary specializations in New Testament and in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. 


Julia’s publications and conference presentations have drawn attention to diverse ancient conceptualizations of virginity, the history of New Testament canon formation, and the ancient reception of the story of Thecla, a quasi-biblical figure whose exploits prompt intriguing questions about early Christian reflection on gender.  She is currently working on a book project based on her dissertation, “Virgin Territory: Configuring Female Virginity in Early Christianity,” which overturns common assumptions about virginity in antiquity and explores the variety of definitions that early Christians and their neighbors formed for virginity as they discussed its value.  She serves on the executive board of the academic working group ReMeDHe (Religion, Medicine, Disability, and Health in late antiquity) and plans to unite her interests in ancient medical, social, and theological reasoning by focusing future research on the concepts of purity and pollution.