PhD in Classical and Near Eastern Religions and Cultures

Apply to be a part of the PhD program in CNRC.

The Classical and Near Eastern Religions and Cultures PhD program prepares participants for a successful career in both post-secondary teaching and research. Within this degree, students will select one of the two sub-plans: Classics or Religions in Antiquity. 

To be accepted into the PhD program, applicants should have experience in at least one relevant ancient language (Greek or Latin for Classics; Greek, Latin, or Hebrew for Religions of Antiquity) sufficient to begin graduate-level reading courses in their first term. Admission to the PhD in Religions in Antiquity is likeliest for applicants with competence in at least one of primary language (Greek, Latin, or Hebrew) and competence in the academic study of religion. 

Further details about requirements are found in the Graduate Handbook.
Open Close



Evenly balanced between the study of Greek and Latin language and literature, the classics sub-plan allows students to explore how our civilization operates today by reading ancient texts in their original languages and coming to understand their historical context as the ancestors of drama, rhetoric, romance, poetry, and more.

Religions of Antiquity

The PhD in religions of antiquity focuses on comparative, historical, and literary study of the religious texts and practices of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East. Students work across a range of cultures, time periods, and places, as shown in course work and exams. Students will build (1) theoretical sophistication in the study of ancient religion; (2) language competencies that will enable graduates to work with a wide range of primary sources; (3) deep understanding of the full range of cultural and historical dynamics inherent in ancient religions; and (4) interpretive skills that draw on a wealth of available literary, epigraphic, papyrological, visual, and material primary sources. There are two areas of study, but the program allows for flexibility in the ways that students can progress through its various stages. 

Area A: Ancient Near East and Hebrew Bible
Religions, literatures, and cultures of Israel, Mesopotamia, Canaan, and Israel from the 2nd millennium BCE to the early Persian period. Students will normally have their primary language proficiency be in classical Hebrew. Secondary languages proficiency include Aramaic, Akkadian, and/or Ugaritic.

Area B: Greek and Roman Religions, Formative Judaism, Early Christianity
Religions, literatures, and cultures of the Ancient Mediterranean world, with potential focal points in early Christianity (including New Testament literature), Second Temple Judaism (including in Egypt), Greek and Hellenistic religion, and Roman religion. This Area centers on the period from Alexander the Great to Marcus Aurelius (ca. 330 BCE to 180 CE). Students will normally have their primary language proficiency in Greek or Latin, with secondary language proficiency in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Aramaic, and/or Coptic. 

All Classics and Religions of Antiquity students have access to all departmental faculty for courses, exams, and dissertation committees, as well as to faculty from other departments who are part of the CNES graduate faculty. 

Departmental Faculty:

  • Patrcia D. Ahearne-Kroll (Second Temple Judaism, religion in Ptolemaic Egypt, Jewish Greek literature, biblical Hebrew)
  • Stephen P. Ahearne-Kroll (New Testament, early Christianity, Greek and Hellenistic religion, gender in antiquity)
  • Spencer Cole (Latin prose and Roman culture, Republican and Imperial Roman religion)
  • Andrew Gallia (Roman history, Latin literature, Greek history, Roman archaeology and topography)
  • Nita Krevans (Greek and Latin poetry and Hellenistic literature) 
  • Bernard M. Levinson (Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies; textual reinterpretation in the Second Temple period; Bible and the Humanities)
  • Hanne Loland Levinson (Hebrew Bible, gender studies, metaphor theory, and biblical narratives)
  • S. Douglas Olson (Greek poetry of the archaic and classical periods) 
  • Eva von Dassow (Ancient New Eastern Studies, Akkadian, and Ugaritic)

Graduate Faculty Affiliated with CNES:

  • Andrea Sterk, History (Late Antique Christianity)
  • Peter Wells, Anthropology (Anthropology of Prehistoric and Roman-Era Europe) 
  • Richard Graff, Writing Studies (Classical Rhetoric and Modern Rhetorical Theory)
  • Theofanis Stavrou, History (Modern Greek and Greek Orthodoxy)