Stephen J. Davis

Stephen Davis

Professor of Religious Studies

Phone: (203) 432-1298
Office Location: Pierson College Master’s Office, 261 Park Street
Office Hours: (by appointment only) Tuesday and Thursdays from 1 to 3pm

Curriculum Vitae
Personal Web Page

A.B., Princeton University;
M.Div., Duke University, The Divinity School;
M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D., Yale University.


Stephen Davis is Professor of Religious Studies, specializing in the history of ancient and medieval Christianity, with a special focus on the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East. Prior to coming to Yale, he lived and taught in Egypt where he served as academic dean and professor of New Testament and early church history at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC), the official Arabic-language seminary of the Coptic Evangelical (Presbyterian) Church, Synod of the Nile. His areas of teaching and research include the study of women and gender, pilgrimage and the cult of the saints, the history of biblical interpretation and canon formation, Egyptian Christianity, Arabic Christianity and its relation to Islam, early Christian art and material culture, and the application of anthropological, sociological, and literary methods in the study of historical texts.


In addition to his academic articles, he has authored (or co-authored) the following books and monographs:

  • Christ Child: Cultural Memories of a Young Jesus (forthcoming from Yale University Press, 2014);

  • A Disputation over a Fragment of the Cross: A Medieval Arabic Text from the History of Christian-Jewish-Muslim Relations in Egypt (co-authored and edited with B. Orfali and S. Noble; Dar al-Machreq, 2012);

  • The Arabic Life of St. John the Little (published as a monograph in the journal Coptica, vol. 7, 2008);

  • Coptic Christology in Practice: Incarnation and Divine Participation in Late Antique and Medieval Egypt (Oxford University Press, 2008);

  • The Early Coptic Papacy: The Egyptian Church and Its Leadership in Late Antiquity (American University in Cairo Press, 2004);

  • Be Thou There: The Holy Family’s Journey in Egypt (co-authored with W. Lyster and C. Hulsman; American University in Cairo Press, 2001);

  • The Cult of St. Thecla: A Tradition of Women's Piety in Late Antiquity (Oxford University Press, 2001).

Since 2006, he has served as Executive Director of the Yale Monastic Archaeology Project (YMAP), conducting field work and training graduate students at two sites in Egypt: the White Monastery near Sohag and the Monastery of John the Little in Wadi al-Natrun. For more information, see the Yale Egyptological Institute website at His upcoming research projects focus primarily on early and medieval monasticism. They include a collaborative monograph on the excavations of a mud-brick hermitage at John the Little (tentatively titled Dwelling in the Desert), an article on monastic archaeology for the Oxford Handbook on Christian Monasticism, and an invited volume on Monasticism in the Oxford Very Short Introduction series.

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