PSCO Presentation: 20 January, 2011

“Giving Up the Godfearers”

Ross Kraemer (Brown University)


Dr. Kraemer will discuss the concept of "godfearers" in contemporary scholarship.


Ross S. Kraemer, Professor of Religious Studies, specializes in early Christianity and other religions of the Greco-Roman Mediterranean, including early Judaism. While much of her research focuses on aspects of women's religions in the Greco-Roman world, particularly Christian and Jewish women, her interests also extend to questions of theory and method in the academic study of religion, the study of women and religion cross-culturally and trans-historically, and even religion and modern media. Before coming to Brown in 2000, she taught most recently at the University of Pennsylvania. She has long-term standing in PSCO.

For more information, see her Profile at Brown.

Meeting and Dining

All are welcome! Those wishing to dine together before the seminar will meet at 6:00 pm in the Cohen Hall Second-Floor Lounge to go next door to the food court in Houston Hall.

Suggested Reading

Ross sends the following note with regard to Suggested Readings:

Ancient sources: Acts 10.1; 13.16; 13.42-52; 16.11-15; 17.1-17. English translations vary in their renderings of φοβουμενος and σεβομενος.

W. Ameling, ed., Inscriptiones Judaicae Orientis, vol. 2, Kleinasien, Cambridge, UK, 1996, no. 14 (the so-called Aphrodisias inscription). A transcription and translation of the inscription is also included in Koch's article, below, which also has numerous other inscriptions, etc.

If you only have time to read one article, I recommend:

Koch, D.-A. (2006). "The God-fearers between Facts and Fiction: Two theosebeis-inscriptions from Aphrodisias and Their Bearing for the New Testament." Studia Theologica-Nordic Journal of Theology 60.1, 62-90.

If you have the time or inclination to read further, there is a massive literature on "God-fearers" (far disproportionately to the actual evidence for such persons). This is just a sampling:

Chaniotis, A. (2002). "The Jews of Aphrodisias: New Evidence and Old Problems." Scripta Classica Israelica 22, 209-42.

Feldman, L. (1950). "Jewish 'Sympathizers' in Classical Literature and Inscriptions." Transactions of the American Philological Association 81, 200-208.

Idem. (1993). Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 342-82.

Gilbert, G. (2004). "Jews in Imperial Administration and Its Significance for Dating the Jewish Donor Inscription from Aphrodisias." Journal for the Study of Judaism 35.2, 169-84.

Kraabel, A. T. (1981). "The Disappearance of the 'God-fearers'." Numen 28, 113-26. Repr. in Diaspora Judaism: Essays in Honor of, and in Dialogue with A. Thomas Kraabel. Edited by A. Overman and R.S. Maclennan. South Florida Studies in Judaism. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 119-30.

Levinskaya, I. (1996). The Book of Acts in its Diaspora Setting. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, pp. 109-35.

Matthews, S. (2001). First Converts: Rich Pagan Women and the Rhetoric of Mission in Early Judaism and Christianity. Stanford: Stanford University Press, pp. 55-62; 66-71.