Melissa H Sellew

My teaching involves the history of religions in Greek and Roman antiquity, with a special interest in early Christianity. Most of my published work is on the Gospels: Mark, Luke, the Q source, and the Coptic Gospel of Thomas. A second area of research is Coptic: the language and literature of Egyptian Christianity (and Gnosticism too) in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. My own writing projects these days center on Luke, Thomas, and various Coptic liturgical and hagiographical texts.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • BA: Classics and History, Macalester College, St. Paul, MN, 1975.
  • M.Div.: Religious Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 1978.
  • Th.D.: New Testament and Christian Origins, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 1986.


  • early Christianity
  • Coptic language and literature
  • Greek and Roman religions
  • New Testament
Courses Taught
  • Clas/RelA 1082(H) - Jesus in History
  • Clas/RelA 3071 - Greek and Hellenistic Religions
  • Clas/RelA 5071 - Greek and Hellenistic Religions
  • Clas/RelA 5080 - New Testament Proseminar
  • Grk 3360 - Advanced Greek: Religious Texts
  • Grk 5360 - Literature; Religious Texts
  • Death and the Afterlife in the Ancient World
  • Elementary Coptic
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Co-Editor, Currents in Research: Biblical Studies, Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, UK: 1993 - 2001
  • Interior Monologue as a Narrative Device in the Parables of Luke: Sellew, Melissa, Journal of Biblical Literature, 1992.
  • Tracking the Tradition: On the Current State of Tradition-Historical Research. Sellew, Melissa, Forum, 1996.
  • The Gospel of Thomas: Prospects for Future Research. Sellew, Melissa, Chapter in The Nag Hammadi Library after Fifty Years, Brill, 1997.
  • The Hundredfold Reward: Martyrdom and Sexual Renunciation in Christian North Africa. Forthcoming in the series Writings from the Greco-Roman World. Co-published at Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.
  • Pauline Conversations in Context: Essays in Honor of Calvin J. Roetzel, Co-Editor (with Janice Capel Anderson and Claudia Setzer). Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series, no. 221. London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002. 295 pp.
  • "Thomas Christianity: Scholars in Quest of a Community." Pp 11-35 in: The Apocryphal Acts of Thomas (ed. Jan N. Bremmer; Leuven: íˆditions Peeters, 2001).
  • "An Early Coptic Witness to the Dormitio Mariae at Yale: P.CtYBR inv. 1778 Revisited." Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 37 (2000) 37-70 + plates 2-4.
  • "Secret Mark and the History of Canonical Mark." Pp 242-257 in The Future of Early Christianity (ed. Birger A. Pearson; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991).
  • "Oral and Written Sources in Mark 4. 1-34." New Testament Studies 36 (1990) 234-267.
  • "Achilles or Christ?" Porphyry and Didymus in Debate over Allegorical Interpretation." Harvard Theological Review 82 (1989) 79-100.
  • A Blessing for Reading the Apocalypse in the Paschal Liturgy: Sellew, Melissa, Peeters Press, Coptic Studies on the Threshold of a New Millenium, 635-643, 2004.
  • Eusebius and the Gospels: Sellew, Melissa, Wayne State University Press, Eusebius, Christianity and Judaism, 110-138, 1992.
  • Jesus and the Voice from Beyond the Grave: G.Thom. 42 in the Context of Funeral Epigraphy: Sellew, Melissa, Brill, Thomasine Traditions in Antiquity, 39-73, 2006.
  • The Hundredfold Reward for Martyrs and Ascetics: Ps.-Cyprian De centesima, sexagesima, tricesima: Sellew, Melissa, Studia Patristica, 36 94-98, 2001.