Stephen J. Shoemaker

Stephen Shoemaker (Ph.D. ’97, Duke University) is a specialist on the history of Christianity and the beginnings of Islam.  His primary interests lie in the ancient and early medieval Christian traditions, and more specifically in early Byzantine and Near Eastern Christianity.  His research focuses on early devotion to the Virgin Mary, Christian apocryphal literature, and Islamic origins.

Prof. Shoemaker is the author of The Death of a Prophet: The End of Muhammad’s Life and the Beginnings of Islam (Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), a study of the “historical Muhammad” that focuses on traditions about the end of his life.  He has also published numerous studies on early Christian traditions about Mary (especially in apocrypha), including The Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption (Oxford University Press, 2002), a study of the earliest traditions of the end of Mary’s life that combines archaeological, liturgical, and literary evidence.  This volume also includes critical translations of many of the earliest narratives of Mary’s Dormition and Assumption, made from Ethiopic, Syriac, Georgian, Coptic, and Greek.

Prof. Shoemaker has published a translation of the earliest Life of the Virgin attributed to Maximus the Confessor (Yale University Press, 2012), a pivotal if overlooked late ancient text that survives only in a Georgian translation.  Most recently, he  published a study of the origins of Christian devotion to the Virgin Mary, Mary in Early Christian Faith and Devotion (Yale University Press, 2016), as well as the edition and translation of several eighth-century Christian martyrdoms in Greek and Georgian from the early Islamic Near East: Three Christian Martyrdoms from Early Islamic Palestine (BYU Press, 2016). In addition, he is preparing a new critical edition of the early Syriac Dormition narratives.

Prof. Shoemaker has been awarded research fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Institute for Advanced Study, the National Humanities Center, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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