Elizabeth A. Clark

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Elizabeth A. Clark
Born1938 (age 80–81)
AwardsGuggenheim Fellowship (1988)
Academic background
Alma materColumbia University
ThesisThe influence of Aristotelian thought on Clement of Alexandria: a study in philosophical transmission (1964)
Academic work
DisciplineEarly Christianity
InstitutionsDuke University

Elizabeth Ann Clark is Professor Emeritus of the John Carlisle Kilgo Professorship of Religion at Duke University.[1] She is notable for her work in the field of Patristics. Clark expanded the study of early Christianity, pioneering the application of modern theories such as feminist theory, social network theory, and literary criticism to ancient sources.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Clark was born in Port Chester, New York, in 1938. She moved to Delhi, New York, when she was nine.[2] She attended high school there and subsequently described her education in history as 'dismal'.[4] She received a state scholarship and attended Vassar College, where she received her BA in Religion in 1960.[2] Clark was taught History by Mildred Campbell, Mary Martin McLaughlin, and J. B. Ross, and Religion by Jack Glasse.[4] Clark received her MA and PhD from Columbia University in 1962 and 1965.[5] As a graduate student, Clark studied Early Christianity alongside philosophy, including a course run by Paul Oskar Kristeller on Hellenic philosophy after Aristotle. Clark described Kristeller as 'the most learned scholar I have ever known'.[6] Clark's doctoral thesis was The influence of Aristotelian thought on Clement of Alexandria: a study in philosophical transmission,[7] written under the direction of the faculty of Union Theological Seminary.


In 1964, Clark founded the Department of Religion at Mary Washington College (now part of the Department of Classics, Philosophy, and Religion at the University of Mary Washington) in Fredericksburg, Virginia.[6] She held the position of the Chair of the Department 1979-82.[8] In 1982, Clark was appointed as a Professor of Religion at Duke University. She founded the Center for Late Ancient Studies (CLAS) at Duke in 1986.[9] At the time of her appointment in the College of Arts and Sciences, the faculty numbered around 500; only four women held the rank of full professor.[4]

Clark held a fellowship at the National Humanities Center, North Carolina, 2001-02. Clark was awarded an honorary degree by Uppsala University in 2001.[10] She was given the shell of the cannon that was fired during the ceremony as a memento.[6] Clark received an honorary degree from Yale University in 2013. Clark has served on the boards of many academic journals, including Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society.[4] She helped to launch and co-edited the Journal of Early Christian Studies.[6] Clark is a prolific writer, authoring or editing thirteen books and over seventy articles. Her research has focused on Augustine, John Chyrsostom, Origen, social networks, early ascetic practices, and women in the early church.[2] Clark retired from Duke in 2014 as the John Carlisle Kilgo Professor. She remains on the board of the Center for Late Ancient Studies at Duke. Reflecting on her career, Clark observed that it was 'rather eclectic': 'I branched into byways as well as highways, stumbled into enterprises for which neither my background nor graduate school had prepared me.'[6]

Recognition and awards[edit]

Clark has served as president of the American Academy of Religion (1990), the American Society of Church History (1987), and the North American Patristics Society (1989).[8] She was responsible for launching the Journal of Early Christian Studies, a flagship journal in the field of Patristics, early Christianity, and late ancient studies.[8] She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1988.[11] She has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies.[12] In 2003, she received the Distinguished Career Award from the American Society of Church History. In 2006 she was awarded the Distinguished Service Award of the North American Patristic Society.[2]

Clark's influence and innumerable contributions have been attested to in the Festschrift published in her honour, edited by Catherine Chin and Caroline Schroeder: Melania: Early Christianity through the Life of One Family, 2017.[8] In 2018, Duke University renamed the Center for Late Ancient Studies (CLAS) as the Elizabeth A. Clark Center for Late Ancient Studies, "in honor of Dr. Clark’s career and leadership in the field."[9]

Her most recent book, The Fathers Refounded, was described as 'a truly brilliant book, massively researched, beautifully written, often witty, and rich with insight'.[13]


Clark was involved with the women's movement from the late 1960s, co-founding the Fredericksburg chapter of National Organization for Women (NOW).[6]

Front cover image of 'Women in the Early Church' by Prof. Elizabeth A. Clark, published in 1983

Select bibliography[edit]

Books, translations, and edited volumes[edit]

  • Clement's Use of Aristotle: The Aristotelian Contribution to Clement of Alexandria's Refutation of Gnosticism (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1977)
  • The Golden Bough, The Oaken Cross: The Virgilian Cento of Faltonia Betitia Proba, translation and commentary co-authored with D. Hatch (Chicago: Scholars Press, 1981)
  • Jerome, Chrysostom, and Friends: Essays and Translations (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1982)
  • Women in the Early Church (Wilmington: M. Glazier, 1983)
  • 'Introduction', On Virginity; Against Remarriage, translated by S. R. Shore (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1983) vii-xlii
  • The Life of Melania, the Younger: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1984)
  • Ascetic Piety and Women's Faith: Essays on Late Ancient Christianity (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1986)
  • Sisters and Workers in the Middle Ages, co-edited with J. M. Bennett et al. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989)
  • The Origenist Controversy: The Cultural Construction of an Early Christian Debate (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992)
  • Women and Religion: The Original Sourcebook of Women in Christian Thought, edited by E. A. Clark and H. Richardson, with assistant editors G. Brower and R. Styers (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996)
  • St. Augustine on Marriage and Sexuality, edited by E. A. Clark (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1996)
  • Reading Renunciation: Asceticism and Scripture in Early Christianity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999)
  • History, Theory, Text: Historians and the Linguistic Turn (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004)
  • Founding the Fathers: Early Church History and Protestant Professors in Nineteenth-Century America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011)
  • The Fathers Refounded. Protestant Liberalism, Roman Catholic Modernism, and the Teaching of Ancient Christianity in Early Twentieth-Century America (Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019)
Front cover of Elizabeth A. Clark, History, Theory, Text (2004)

Articles and book chapters[edit]

  • 'John Chrysostom and the "Subintroductae"', Church History, vol. 46, no. 2 (1977) 171-85
  • 'Jesus as Hero in the Vergilian "Cento" of Faltonia Betitia Proba', Vergilius, E. A. Clark and D. F. Hatch, no. 27 (1981) 31-9
  • 'Ascetic Renunciation and Feminine Advancement: A Paradox of Late Ancient Christianity', Anglican Theological Review 6 (1981) 240-57
  • 'Claims on the Bones of Saint Stephen: The Partisans of Melania and Eudocia', Church History, vol. 51, no. 2 (1982) 141-56
  • '"Adam's Only Companion": Augustine and the Early Christian Debate on Marriage', Recherches Augustiniennes, 21 (1986) 139-62
  • 'The Place of Jerome's Commentary on Ephesians in the Origenist Controversy: The Apokatastasis and Ascetic Ideals', Vigiliae Christianae, vol. 41, no. 2 (1987) 154-71
  • 'Foucault, The Fathers, and Sex', Journal of the American Academy of Religion, vol. 56, no. 4 (1988) 619-41
  • 'Theory and Practice in Late Ancient Asceticism: Jerome, Chrysostom, and Augustine', Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, vol. 5, no. 2 (1989) 25-46
  • 'New Perspectives on the Origenist Controversy: Human Embodiment and Ascetic Strategies', Church History, vol. 59, no. 2 (1990) 145-62
  • '1990 Presidential Address: Sex, Shame, and Rhetoric: En-Gendering Early Christian Ethics', Journal of the American Academy of Religion, vol. 59, no. 2 (1991) 221-45
  • 'Elite Networks and Heresy Accusations: Towards a Social Description of the Origenist Controversy', Semeia 56 (1991) 81-117
  • 'Ideology, History, and the Construction of "Woman" in Late Ancient Christianity', Journal of Early Christian Studies, 2 (1994) 155-84
  • 'Sane Insanity: Women and Asceticism in Late Ancient Christianity', Medieval Encounters, Vol. 3, Issue 3 (1997) 211 – 230
  • 'The Lady Vanishes: Dilemmas of a Feminist Historian after the "Linguistic Turn', Church History, vol. 67, no. 1 (1998) 1-31
  • 'Holy Women, Holy Words: Early Christian Women, Social History, and the "Linguistic Turn"', Journal of Early Christian Studies 6 (1998) 413-30
  • 'Introduction', Church History, vol. 69, no. 2 (2000) 277-80
  • 'Women, Gender, and the Study of Christian History',Church History, vol. 70, no. 3 (2001) 395-426
  • 'Engaging Bruce Lincoln', Method & Theory in the Study of Religion, vol. 17, no. 1 (2005) 11-17
  • 'The Celibate Bridegroom and His Virginal Brides: Metaphor and the Marriage of Jesus in Early Christian Ascetic Exegesis', Church History, vol. 77, no. 1 (2008) 1-25
  • 'From Patristics to Early Christian Studies', Oxford Handbook of Early Christianity, edited by S. Ashbrook Harvey and D. Hunter (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) 7-41
  • 'Postcolonial Theory and the Study of Christian History Introduction', Church History, vol. 78, no. 4 (2009) 847-8
  • 'The Retrospective Self', The Catholic Historical Review 101.1 (2015) vi-27
Front cover image of Elizabeth A. Clark, St Augustine on Marriage and Sexuality (1996)


  1. ^ "Elizabeth A. Clark | Duke Religious Studies". religiousstudies.duke.edu. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Elizabeth Clark, Doctor of Divinity" (PDF).
  3. ^ "The William T. Patten Foundation: Past Lecturers: Elizabeth A. Clark". patten.indiana.edu. Retrieved 2017-01-31.
  4. ^ a b c d Clark, Elizabeth A. (2015). "The Retrospective Self". The Catholic Historical Review. 101: vi-27.
  5. ^ "2010 Dean's Award: Elizabeth A. Clark | Duke Graduate School". gradschool.duke.edu. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Clark, "Retrospective Self," 6
  7. ^ "The influence of Aristotelian thought on Clement of Alexandria : a study in philosophical transmission - CLIO". clio.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  8. ^ a b c d "email : Webview : "In Honor of Elizabeth Clark"". t.e2ma.net. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  9. ^ a b "Duke/UNC CLAS Symposium Report | De Malo: Evil and Theodicy in Late Antiquity". ANCIENT JEW REVIEW. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  10. ^ "Honorary Doctors of the Faculty of Theology - Uppsala University, Sweden". www.uu.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 2017-02-17.
  11. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Elizabeth A. Clark". Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  12. ^ "NEH grants". securegrants.neh.gov. Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  13. ^ "The Fathers Refounded | Elizabeth A. Clark". www.upenn.edu. Retrieved 2019-03-25.

External links[edit]