James C. Hanges

Areas of expertise

  • Religion and politics
  • New Testament
  • Early Christianity and rabbinic Judaism
  • Pentecostalism and evangelicalism

James C. HangesProfessor, Department Chair, and Chief Departmental Advisor
203 Upham Hall
(513) 529-2029

Vision for students: "My goal is to equip students to recognize problems and inconsistencies as they investigate whatever subjects they choose to work on. I hope students discover that the world is more complex than they may have assumed when they began their studies, and that solutions require the kinds of research skills they will have learned here at Miami."


B.A., Classical Greek (Miami University, 1985)
M.A., Religion (Miami University, 1987)
Ph.D., Bible/New Testament (University of Chicago, 1999)

International experience: While receiving his doctoral training, Dr. Hanges spent three seasons at Isthmia, Greece, where he completed a stratigraphy (archaeological analysis) of the mystery cult site of the hero Palaimon, attached to the Temple of Poseidon.


REL 275 - Introduction to the Critical Study of Biblical Literature
REL 331 - Paul and the Beginnings of Christianity
REL 334 - Women's Religious Experience in the Ancient Mediterranean World
REL 336 - Jesus and the Gospels
REL 430 - Early Christian Literature and Religion

Most of Dr. Hanges's courses deal with the ancient Mediterranean world, from which the earliest forms of Christianity emerged. While studying the ancient past, students hone skills desired by employers in the present: writing, critical reading, appreciating the complexity of cultural encounters and plurality, analyzing problems from a perspective of critical distance, and persuasively arguing for original solutions.

Sample assignment: In REL 430, students learn the technical skills necessary to write a research paper suitable for submission to a scholarly journal. At semester's end, students read their papers at a public symposium. 


In his first book, Christ, the Image of the Church (Davies Group, 2006), Dr. Hanges applied Durkheimian sociology to analyze how the Christ worshipped by the earliest Pauline communities reflected those communities' self-identity. His most recent book, Paul, Founder of Churches (Mohr Siebeck, 2012), shows how Paul adapted a Greek cultural narrative of the founder-figure as the model for founding his churches. Enthusiastically received among scholars of early Christianity, Paul, Founder of Churches has given rise to a three-year conference that will end with the publication of a collection of essays in which various scholars take the implications of Dr. Hanges's book as their point of departure.

Dr. Hanges has also co-edited a collection of theoretical essays and case studies, Comparing Religions: Possibilities and Perils? (Brill, 2006). His journal articles deal mostly with questions of methodology: How to study emerging Christianity and other religions of the ancient Mediterranean world? His next book, The End of the Damascus Road, will build on Paul, Founder of Churches by using the cultural commonplace of the foundation narrative as a lens for understanding the narrative of Paul's conversion.

Beyond the department

Dr. Hanges is an affiliated faculty member of the Department of Classics.

Beyond Miami, he is heavily involved with the study of Greek and Roman religions through the Society of Biblical Literature's Greco-Roman Religions Section and the Society for Ancient Mediterranean Religions. He also serves as president of the local society of the Archaeological Institute of America, which brings professional archaeologists to Oxford each year to present the latest discoveries from the field.