Religious Studies and Classics Faculty Promoted

May 23, 2022

Three faculty members in the Department of Religious Studies and Classics have been promoted, demonstrating excellent performance in teaching, service and research.


Dr. Grant Adamson is promoted from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer.


Dr. Max Strassfeld is promoted from Assistant Professor to tenured Associate Professor.


Dr. Robert Stephan is promoted from Assistant Professor of Practice to Associate Professor of Practice.


Adamson specializes in early Christianity and the ancient Mediterranean. His research primarily concerns the creative, bizarre, even transgressive rewriting practices of early Christians. The focus of his current book project is how the Matthean and Lukan infancy narratives were rewritten in the second century to include the idea that Jesus pre-existed, descended from heaven, and then was incarnated through virgin birth. He has also published on the rewriting of Jesus tradition, Greco-Egyptian tradition, Plato’s Timaeus, and the book of Genesis in Sethian gnostic texts. In the field of papyrology, his edition of a Roman soldier’s letter was featured in national and international news. Before moving to the University of Arizona, he was a postdoctoral teaching fellow at Rice University, where he graduated with a Ph.D. from the Department of Religion.


Strassfeld (Ph.D. in Religious Studies, Stanford University) specializes in Rabbinic Literature, Transgender Studies, and Jewish Studies. His book, Trans Talmud: Androgynes and Eunuchs in Rabbinic Literature, explores eunuchs and androgynes in Jewish law, and pairs classical Jewish texts with intersex autobiography, transgender studies, and theories of queer temporality, in order to argue that the rabbis use these figures to map the boundaries of normative masculinity. In recognition of his work in gender and sexuality, he was awarded the Frankel Fellowship for New Perspectives on Gender and Jewish Life at the University of Michigan in 2013-2014. He served on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion from 2015-2017 and currently serves on the board of the Association for Jewish Studies. Strassfeld teaches a wide range of courses, including Jews, Christians, and the Bible; Jews in the Roman Empire; Religion and Sex; and Gender, Women, and Religion. Strassfeld is an affiliate of the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies and a faculty affiliate of Classics.


Stephan is an archaeologist by training and has taught in the University of Arizona’s Department of Religious Studies and Classics since 2016. He earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2014 and his research interests focus on how the material remains of the past can inform us about the economic performance of pre-modern societies. He has worked on archaeological excavations in Italy, Cyprus, Britain, Armenia, and the American Southwest. His current project uses archaeological survey to look at southern Sicily from prehistory through the medieval period. He is Director of Undergraduate Studies and teaches courses on classical history and civilization, classical mythology, the reception of classics in the modern world, ancient sport and spectacle, and the Greco-Roman economy.