Ellie Gebarowski-Shafer

Visiting Scholar in Religion



Since joining the Religion department in the fall of 2010, I have explored a variety of issues and themes in my courses.  Every fall, I teach “the Christian Tradition,” which is an introduction to the origins and global adaptations of Christianity.  In winter term, I teach "Global Pentecostalism" and in the spring term I offer “Christianity in Early Modern Europe,” a lecture and discussion course on the Reformation and Counter-Reformation from 1500-1700, with attention to emerging colonial contexts in Africa, the Americas, and Asia.  My newest course is "Christianity in Africa," which I offered for the first time in fall of 2015.  I work with Special Collections staff to introduce students to manuscript and early printed books and archival materials as they relate to different aspects of these courses, and I provide opportunities for projects, presentations, and papers that encourage hands-on research with a wide assortment of rare Bibles, theological writings, and missionary texts currently held in the Middlebury College archives.

Research Interests

My research centers on the reception of the King James Bible (KJB), whose 400th anniversary was celebrated in 2011 at a host of conferences and exhibitions worldwide.  I work specifically on the Catholic reception of the KJB, drawing attention to the criticisms posed by Catholics from 1611 through 1911 and the effect that those attacks had in polarizing Protestant communities in England, Ireland, the United States, either to defend the authority and literary excellence of the version or to campaign for a large-scale revision that eventually resulted in the Revised Version of 1882-85.  I have presented selections of my work at KJB anniversary conferences at the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium), the Ohio State University, and the University of York (England).  I gave invited lectures in 2011 at Cambridge University, the University of Oxford, Princeton University, the Folger Institute (Washington, D.C.), and Christian Brothers University (Memphis).  I am also interested in the KJB's postcolonial and musical uses, such as its sung liturgical use in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the USA, and in music and preaching of  global Pentecostal churches such as the United Pentecostal Church and the Spiritual Baptists of St. Vincent. 


D.Phil., University of Oxford (Lincoln College), Theology.  Supervised by Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, Knight, and Professor Peter McCullough.

M.A., Boston University, Editorial Studies (with a thesis on sixteenth-century biblical annotation).  Supervised by Sir Geoffrey Hill.

B.A., Boston University, English with a minor in Philosophy, Summa Cum Laude with Distinction.

Recent Publications

"The Bible in Roman Catholic Theology," in The New Cambridge History of the Bible, vol. 3, ed. Euan Cameron (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

“Augustine and Apocalypticism in the Polemical Annotations of the Rheims New Testament Controversy,” in Augustine and Apocalyptic, ed. Kim Paffenroth and Kari Kloos, Lexington Books, 2014.

"The Transatlantic Reach of the Catholic 'False Translation' Argument in the School 'Bible Wars,'" in the US Catholic Historian, Summer 2014.

"Thomas Bilson and Anti-Catholicism at Paul's Cross," in Paul's Cross and the Culture of Persuasion:  1520-1640, ed. Torrance Kirby (Brill, 2014).

“Catholics and the King James Bible: Stories from England, Ireland, and America,” Scottish Journal of Theology, 66:3, August 2013, pp. 253-60. 

 "The King James Bible's 400th Anniversary in Retrospect," Focus On article, Oxford Biblical Studies Online, ed. Michael Coogan (May 1, 2012).  http://www.oup.com/obso/currentfocus/


Overview of an article on the KJB, shot at Oxford's Bodleian Library:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nu9uOfDX_Tw

Teaching video sample at Special Collections, Middlebury College:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRGaYNMNNJg

In Progress

Catholic Critics of the King James Bible, 1611-1911 (Ashgate Publishing).




Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

FYSE 1429 - Matthew: Then and Now      

Interpretations of Matthew: Then and Now
The Gospel according to Matthew was the most quoted gospel in early Christianity, and it remains a favorite today. What is so special about the teachings and stories of Jesus in this text, compared with the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John? This seminar explores how people have read and understood Matthew over time. We will study the book itself and its interpretations in the writings of Augustine, Luther, Teresa of Avila, and Tolstoy, as well as in music and film. We will also examine the text’s changing physical forms and varying translations, especially in Bibles of the European Reformation. 3 hrs. sem. CW PHL

Fall 2014

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IGST 0503 - African Studies Ind. Project      

African Studies Independent Project
(Approval Required)

Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

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RELI 0130 - The Christian Tradition      

The Christian Tradition
We will examine Christian origins in global historical context, beginning with the life of Jesus and then focusing on Paul’s role in doctrine formation. Readings from the Bible and theologians like Augustine will give us insight into the development of regional church leadership, rituals, music, and the use of Scripture and reason. Then we will look at the impact of Catholic and Protestant Reformations on western culture and politics, and in recent times, we will examine the growth of the Roman Catholic Church, Pentecostalism, and Mormonism in the global south, in contrast to secularism in the northern hemisphere. Visits to local churches will promote a deeper understanding of contrasting Christian worldviews. 3 hrs. lect./disc. CMP HIS PHL

Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017

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RELI 0180 / ENAM 0180 - Intro to Biblical Literature      

An Introduction to Biblical Literature
This course is a general introduction to biblical history, literature, and interpretation. It is designed for students who seek a basic understanding of the Bible on its own or as a foundation for further study in religion, art, literature, film, and other disciplines. It aims to acquaint students with the major characters, narratives, poetry, and compositional features of biblical literature and how these writings became Jewish and Christian scriptures. The course will also explore various approaches to reading the Bible, both religious and secular. 3 hrs. lect./disc. LIT PHL

Spring 2017

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RELI 0233 - Christianity in Africa      

Christianity in Africa
Christianity has an ancient heritage in Africa and a vibrant presence today, especially in the form of charismatic and Pentecostal movements which emphasize divine healing and prophecy. In this course we will examine the texts, beliefs, and individuals who shaped early Christianity in northern Africa and Ethiopia, with emphasis on monasticism, martyrdom, and the writings of Augustine of Hippo. Then we will examine cross-cultural contact with European Christians, including Roman Catholic and Protestant missionary encounters. We will examine issues of racism, sexism, and cultural superiority past and present, to help us understand the complex role of religion and belief in the supernatural in post-colonial Africa today. 3 hrs. lect./disc. AAL CMP CW PHL SAF

Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017

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RELI 0237 - Christians/Early Modern Europe      

Christianity in Early Modern Europe
In this course we will examine the theological ideas and social conditions that transformed European life and thought in the 16th and 17th centuries. Particular attention will be paid to the Protestant Reformation in Germany and England, as well as the Catholic Counter-Reformation and changes within the Roman Catholic Church. We will study theologians like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Teresa of Avila, alongside popular religious practices and music of the period. Finally, we will ask how cultural evolution and religious revolution influenced one another, especially in the emergence of popular English Bibles and in the European colonization of Africa and the Americas. 3 hrs. lect. CMP EUR HIS PHL

Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

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RELI 0335 - Roman Catholicism      

Roman Catholicism WT
Topic is determined by the instructor - refer to section for the course description. EUR HIS PHL

Spring 2015, Spring 2018

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RELI 0500 - Independent Research      

Independent Research
(Approval Required)

Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019

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RELI 0700 - Senior Project in Religion      

Senior Project
(Approval Required)

Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019

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RELI 0701 - Senior Thesis in Religion      

Senior Research for Honors Candidates
Approval required

Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019

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RELI 1029 - Global Pentecostalism      

Global Pentecostalism
In this course we will explore developments in contemporary Pentecostal and charismatic movements, rapidly growing forms of global Christianity that emphasize direct personal experience with God through the baptism of the Holy Spirit and “speaking in tongues.” We will begin with an exploration of the central beliefs and practices in Pentecostalism, its modern origins in the Azuza Street Revival, and racial tensions among the early “classical denominations” of North America. Then we will turn our attention to the global spread of Pentecostalism in the 20th century, examining its cultural and ethnic variations in South America, Africa, and China. Finally, we will consider how these diverse global movements and neo-charismatic mega churches (especially their use of the media and endorsement of prosperity theology) are re-shaping the face of traditional Christianity. CMP NOR PHL WTR

Winter 2015, Winter 2016, Winter 2017

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Program in International and Global Studies

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