We are delighted to introduce to you Dr. Megan DeVore as a new Research Fellow for the Center. Dr. DeVore is Associate Professor of Early Christian Studies and the History of Christianity at Colorado Christian University. She is currently a member of North American Patristics Society, Society of Biblical Literature, American Society of Church History, and the Colorado Classics Association. Her research interests include hagiography, heresiology, Patristic anthropology, commemoration practices and identity formation in early Christianity and its social contexts, Graeco-Roman benefaction, early to late antique material culture, and historic Christian spiritual formation.
In order for us to become better acquainted with Dr. DeVore, we asked her the following questions. She is an absolute delight and will be a tremendous asset to the vision of the Center as well as her continued contributions to the fields of early Christianity.
1. What is your interest in Antiquity and Early Christian Studies?
Antiquity has captivated me for over two decades. The more I pursued church history, even completing a track in church history at Oxford (UK), the more I realized that the first five centuries of Christianity and its wider socio-cultural contexts simply would not stop capturing my attention. I am particularly intrigued by heresiology and orthodoxy in those alluring second and third centuries; authors like Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian are never far from my mind.
My MA work in Classics, focusing on the Roman empire, also stoked an interest in material culture as well as cultural norms of benefaction and public commemoration. I’ve become convinced that these interact with early Christian martyr accounts in tantalizing ways that have yet to be fully explored/elucidated, so that is the focus of my current research and writing (particularly in my forthcoming book).
2. When you share your interests with students or ecclesial settings, what do you enjoy sharing with them?
It is thrilling to share the dynamic depths in early Christian belief and practice. When students view and interpret catacomb frescoes, explore the apostolic writings like the Epistle to Diognetus, or reflect with Patristic commentary on the Lord’s Prayer, for example, they engage in both information and formation – they are not merely learning for an exam but enriching their Christian identities and (I hope) shaping their future engagement with the present and the past.
In sharing and guiding them in these interests, I get to walk alongside students as they are shaped in head and heart by those who have come before them... it’s a delight and a privilege that I do not take lightly. Many of my students have simply never been exposed to early Christian history or theology, so in many ways, I simply enjoy opening this door to them. This is all the more so the case with material culture: to provide students with visual 'literacy' skills so that they can interpret historic art and architecture is an activity that will never become dull.
In ecclesial settings, this guidance also gets to occur, albeit in different ways. Speaking prayers or sharing hymns from millennia past, explaining (and "translating") creeds or ancient art, speaking at retreats, etc., allows me to share the extraordinarily formational aspects of early Christian studies.
3. What are your “go-to books”?
TS Eliot’s poetry (especially the Four Quartets and Ash Wednesday)
Musurillo’s Acts of the Christian Martyrs
Irenaeus’ On the Apostolic Preaching and Against Heresies
The commentaries on the Lord’s Prayer by Cyprian, Tertullian, and Origen (love the SVS press edition of these together)
Nazianzen’s theological poetry
Dante’s Divine Comedy
...and anything by Everett Ferguson, Maxwell Johnson, Andrew Louth, Sara Parvis, Khaled Anatolios, Robin Jensen
4. What does your current research consist of?
I’m laboring on my forthcoming book, The Passion of Perpetua in Context: The Formation of Early Christian Identity, most prominently at present, and also researching Severan-era commemoration and beneficia practices quite a bit of late for an upcoming presentation at NAPS.
Two future projects – including one on Augustine and human flourishing – have been percolating on my mind and computer files, but those probably won’t come to fruition for a few years. The curiosity and delightful complexity of my two children are teaching me how little I actually know about anything, however.