About Me

I am a biblical scholar and historian of the early Christian period. I have an undergraduate degree in Music, graduate degrees in Comparative Literature and Classical Studies, and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies, specializing in the New Testament and early Christianity. I am currently a visiting assistant professor at the University of Houston where I teach a variety of religious studies courses [sample syllabi here] and the Honors College’s core great-books course, the Human Situation.

As is quite apparent, my educational formation took a variety of turns, most of which is not even visible from the list of degrees mentioned above. It was not until after my bachelor’s degree in Music (classical guitar), that I became an avid reader. At first my interests were in reading comparative mythology, Jungian psychology, books on Buddhism, Taoism, Mohammedanism, the occult, Greek philosophy and literature, ancient Near Eastern myth and history, quantum physics…. and of course, Nietzsche.

It soon became clear that my interests were crystalizing around the fields of comparative mythology and religion, so I decided to pursue an M.A. degree in Comparative Literature at Indiana University. There my interests took on new directions. I became interested in philosophies or methodologies of interpretation, French literature, and Christian medieval literature and allegory, which I decided to major in. Other interests were also brewing which led me to pursue other M.A. degrees. I was fascinated with Greco-Roman literature and philosophy, but more so with its religions, and I became more and more interested in the religious and literary life of the 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD. It was only natural at this point to add early Christianity into the mix. I learned Greek, read (and reread) the New Testament in Greek, and soon found myself interested in the Jesus movement and Christian origins in their Greco-Roman religious, political, and literary contexts. I also became interested in how interpretive traditions were formed and their relationship with the texts they purport to interpret. I was discovering how, in one sense, the emerging Christian movement was a series of complex interpretive processes, wherein texts were being written to reinterpret early texts, or even historical events, and these texts were then also subjected to re-interpretations, and these to yet further re-interpretations, and this goes on and on, and is still going on and on and on…. Nietzsche himself had proposed that history progresses through a series of interpretive—often mis-interpretive—processes. It was now all becoming vaguely clear to me. This interplay between text and interpretive tradition soon became the foundation of many of my current interests. I will spend much time blogging about this and how it figures into both the making of the Bible and how the Bible is perceived by today’s public.

The paradigm in biblical studies had shifted while I was a graduate student, from looking at the early Christian movement in the context of the Greco-Roman world to looking at, and rightfully so, understanding, Jesus, Paul, and the early Christian movement within the context of late Judaism (2nd c. BC–1st c. AD). In honesty, this shift had already started with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. As a student of early Christianity, I was initially surprised to learn, as you might be too, that messiah, resurrection, day of judgement, holy spirit, and son of God were all Jewish ideas [the latter also prevalent in the Roman imperial cult (I hope to write about this topic at a later date)], which were quite pronounced in the Judaism prior to and during Jesus’ own era. That was it for me. I was hooked. I became increasingly interested in Jewish apocalypticism, Jewish messianism, Jewish literature of the intertestamental period, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Jewish historian Josephus, Philo of Alexandria’s philosophical reinterpretation of Hebrew scripture, and the phenomenon of martyrdom which extending itself throughout this time period, from those recounted in the book of Daniel and the books of the Maccabees (circa the 160s BC) to those in the book of Revelation and beyond. Recalling my earlier interest in the phenomenon of interpretation, I soon began to see that each one of these texts grappled with making sense of their world through the process of reinterpreting, perhaps even reinventing, the past. The past was re-presented, in other words, through various interpretive guises in order to address the concerns, hopes, and fears of specific historical communities.

With this growing interest, I decided to abandon my Ph.D. in Medieval literature and go for one in Religious studies, except I now found myself living in France! So I did a Ph.D. in French (I would not suggest this to anyone!!) at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, then a part of the Sorbonne, and wrote my dissertation on Paul’s Old Testament interpretive method: “Τύπος et typologie dans le christianisme ancien. Une critique de l’image de Paul comme fondateur de l’exégèse typologique.” And voila! I was now Dr. DiMattei! — by no means was this as easy and spontaneous as I make it sound here (plein de souffrance, à vérité).

This was by no means the end of my education; in fact I could say that it was merely the beginning. My interests were still growing. I continued to read the voluminous secondary literature on Paul and managed to pump out a few scholarly articles on Paul’ scriptural hermeneutic for my colleagues [see here], but I also got involved and interested in historical Jesus research. What is that, you ask? I hope to return to this subject in the future and blog about it, but meanwhile you can check out the syllabus for the Historical Jesus course I created here and gather an idea of what it’s all about.

So Paul, Jesus, the Gospels, and the Judaism of the first-century became the staples of my existence. Yet I was to take another turn, one that brought me to my current projects working with the Old Testament, or the Hebrew Bible as some of my colleagues prefer. These interests culminated around a quest to learn about the compositional nature of the Bible, how it came to be, and who wrote the texts that eventually were stitched together in what later generations labeled “the Bible.” I have already outlined these interests in my Welcome page, which you can reread here. So it is here, at this juncture of my ever-expanding quest for everything biblical(!), that I now find myself a blogger….

à bientôt,

Steven DiMattei

14 Responses to About Me

  1. Michael Katzoff, MD says:

    Having been schooled in orthodoxy for many years, modern biblical scholarship has been enlightening, yet threatening to many of my friends who prefer fundamental faith, the facts be damned!
    I enjoy reading your articles which greatly compliment the books by Richard Friedman, James Kugel, Finklestein/Silberman and others.
    Thanks for your scholarship and postings!

  2. jed says:

    so.. are you christian?

  3. the menace says:

    Hi. Off subject, but could you help a poor Brit out and explain your name?
    Is it Demattee, de-matee, Dematteye, Dematteye or something else? I would like to get it right.
    Thanx lol.

  4. ken parme says:

    Very enjoyable. I have been teaching high school sunday school for many years and it is always very helpful to have good biblical history to present to the kids. I teach them that the bible is not written for science knowledge or history but it is written to show us about ourselves and that it is a guidepost to lead us in our relationship with the divine. Far from being a threat the truth is always freeing when we embrace it with the correct eyes. I am 56 years old now and battling pancreatic cancer and the truths I have learned from critical study have only deepened my faith. Thank you for your post. This week we are studying Hagar and Abraham.

  5. Marc Jones says:

    Dr. DiMattei, Thanks for your remarks regarding the priestly and prophetic traditions. I have been wondering recently if Jesus was more in tune with the Levitic tradition than the Deuteronomic. Most of my supposition is based on circumstantial evidence (i.e., his pointed criticisms of the Temple system and the scribes and Pharisees). I have done no research on this topic but am aware of tensions in Jewish traditions. Your writing on the priestly versus prophetic was interesting and helpful. If you know of any more information regarding these curiosities I’d be grateful to you. Thank you and God bless you. In Christ, Marc Jones

  6. Nancy Hynds says:

    Thanks for providing this enlightening blog! I’ve been visiting about a year and wanted acknowledge your works. I will keep reading and satisfying my curiosity.

  7. Scott says:

    Thanks for contradictionsinthebible.com. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts. The website really does help me (and I’m sure everyone) better understand the bible and why it was written. Keep up the great work!
    Thank you,

  8. Erik Larson says:

    Awesome resource, thank you. Got me wondering if there are contradictions within the texts of J, E, P, D and so on, not just between them. The two endings of Deuteronomy are one example. I searched but didn’t find an article about the ‘contradictions within author’ subject specifically, though there may be examples in articles you’ve written. If you’ve researched this or are aware of documentation by other researchers, i’d appreciate a link.

  9. Roland Gerritsen van der Hoop says:

    Excellent website with very thoughtful and well researched material. I will definitely make this one of my preferred sites and read your new contributions. By the way: since being interested in the topic of religions and especially the Bible I have noted how much good work has been done in the past that most people have no idea of. Even by less expert scholars like the lawyer John Wheless, who points out a number of the contradictions you cover as well (he seems to be a little too enthralled in post Freudian symbolism, though). A pity none of this is covered in Sunday school.

  10. Roland Gerritsen van der Hoop says:

    I meant Joseph Wheless, author of “Is it God’s word? ” from around 1930. He has some observations on the priests that you will find amusing and he certainly concurs with your observations on their relatively late inclusion in the Torah.

  11. Searching says:

    Just wanted to say thank you and I am glad to have ‘stumbled’ upon your site. It seems life would be so much easier if people understood/accepted/comprehended more about what you are saying… rather than fighting about it. I am happy to say simply I love God, by whatever name… and do NOT have the need to follow rules that were made by man….

  12. Lance says:

    Hello Dr. Di Mattei;

    I am a big fan of your site and work. I belong to an Agnostic social group here in the Washington D.C. area. We are mostly Atheists and Humanists. I just fired off an email praising your academic blog site. I look forward to learning more about religious anthropology and biblical concepts. Below is the email I sent out to my group…

    I am currently working on a “Jeffersonianess” Bible. Why? I am constantly seeking meaningful discussions with Theist concerning flawed and embellished narratives within the Bible and how the text has evolved over the centuries. (IMO) the best way to engage theist is to learn their language. Whether I encounter “Mythicist, Biblical Literalist, or the Biblically illiterate; I have found I am forced to read the works of “Atheists, Apologists, Anthropologists and biblical Scholars” in parallel, in order to provide more context and consistency.

    Going back and forth between these various types of books can be confusing at times. For example, when discussing the critical, yet heavily flawed event dates within the Bible, I have to first find the purported (fictitious) dates given by apologists, and secondly I have to provide the corrected historical dates provided by anthropologists and biblical scholars.

    Recently I have been studying the works of Dr. Steven Di Mattei. Di Mattei has a distinguished Phd. in Religious Studies and his web content rivals that of Bart Ehrman. Personally, I have never seen such academic work displayed so concisely and succinctly that both hobbyists and academics alike can sink their teeth into in order to obtain a 360 degree view of both content and concept.

    Di Mattei provides free daily emails of “fleshed out” biblical contradictions. What is even more astounding is, Di Mattei even engages with you via email concerning any biblical topic!

    I get it! Most of us hate reading the bible however, I think it is paramount in providing more clarity concerning biblical nonsense. Di Mattei’s bio is below as well as links to his academic based website.

    “I am a biblical scholar and historian of the early Christian period. I have an undergraduate degree in Music, graduate degrees in Comparative Literature and Classical Studies, and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies, specializing in the New Testament and early Christianity. I am currently a visiting assistant professor at the University of Houston where I teach a variety of religious studies courses [sample syllabi here] and the Honors College’s core great-books course, the Human Situation.”
    Dr. Di Mattei

    “A blog dedicated to the study of the Bible in its historical and literary contexts, and created as a forum to air out and discuss topics related to my current book projects.”

  13. Crosspoint Minhang says:

    We are Crosspoint students.

  14. Yunon Lee says:

    Keep up the good work! I’ve learn’t MUCH from your posting.

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