Graduate Program


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion

Summer 2021

Thesis Director

Lee E. Patterson

Thesis Committee Member

Sace E. Elder

Thesis Committee Member

Bailey K. Young


Hagiography has often confused historians over what practical application this genre of Christian literature has when read as primary sources. In this project I will show that hagiography can read as an evolution of an earlier pagan style rooted in the paideia of ancient scholars. Chreia exercises were performed by students of paideia in order to instruct them on how to write about figures worth emulating such as Diogenes or Alexander the Great. Christian authors did not participate in a hermetically sealed education system but took part in the same schooling as their pagan peers. Hagiographies are structurally and functionally very similar to chreia exercises and should be read in the same way. Moreover, Christian authors injected their own morals and ethics into hagiography making a conscious effort to change from the pagan past into a Christian future. In so doing Christian authors were participating in a wider trend of overall Christianization in the late Roman Empire.