Ellie Gebarowski-Shafer

Assistant Professor of Religion

Phone: work802.443.5975
Office Hours: Winter Term: Mondays and Tuesdays 2:00-3:30
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Since joining the Religion department in the fall of 2010, I have explored a variety of issues and themes in my courses, including but not limited to the role of biblical translation and interpretation in the formation of Christian doctrine and practice.  Every fall, I teach “the Christian Tradition,” which is an introduction to the origins and global adaptations of Christianity.  Other courses I teach frequently are “the History of the Bible,” a seminar on the development of the Bible as a book and sacred text (with special emphasis on the Reformation period to the present), as well as “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 the Americas and Asia.  I work with Special Collections staff to introduce students to 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.

In Christianity today, the fastest area of growth and conversion is Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity, and intellectual trends are largely defined and challenged by contextualized theologies of liberation, so I developed a new course that compares the influence of these movements in contemporary global Christianity, taught in Spring 2011 and Spring 2012.  I taught a course on Global Pentecostalism in Winter Term 2013, with a field trip to a Boston-area mega church.    In Fall 2012, I taught a new seminar on Roman Catholicism from Trent to Today.  I am currently on sabbatical for the 2013-14 academic year.

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.  Thanks to travel grants from Middlebury College, I was able to present 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 Douay-Rheims Bible and controversies regarding its publication and reception from the sixteenth century onwards, as well as other Catholic vernacular Bibles of the Counter-Reformation period.  Areas in which I intend to pursue further research include Latin Bibles of the Reformation, the King James Only movement, the Douay-Rheims Bible in American Catholicism, the Bible in the early American west, and the translation and use of the Bible in the history of Christian missions (especially in China) as well as in contemporary global Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity.


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 and Forthcoming Publications

“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/

In Progress

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

“Catholic Bibles, Protestant Methods?  A Comparative Study of Sixteenth-Century Vernacular Bibles,” article in preparationThis will give an overview of my second book project, Catholic Vernacular Bibles of the Counter-Reformation, which will focus on German, French, and English Catholic Bibles from the 1520s through the eighteenth century, with attention to Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Vulgate-based versions.



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.


Fall 2014

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RELI 0130 - The Christian Tradition      

The Christian Tradition WT
An introduction to the ecclesiastical and theological development of Christianity. The course will begin with the formation of doctrine in the first five centuries. Attention will then be given to the development of Roman Catholicism, the Reformation, and the rise of Protestantism. The latter part of the course will deal with the changes that have occurred in the post-Enlightenment period and end with some contemporary issues. 2 hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc.


Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014

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RELI 0180 / ENAM 0180 - Intro to Biblical Literature      

An Introduction to Biblical Literature ST, WT
This course is a general introduction to biblical history, literature, and interpretation. It aims to acquaint students with the major characters, narratives, and poetry of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, with special emphasis on the ways scripture has been used and interpreted in Western culture. Students interested in more detailed analysis of the material should enroll in RELI 0280 and RELI 0281. 3 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc.


Spring 2012

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RELI 0237 - Christians/Early Modern Europe      

Christianity in Early Modern Europe WT
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 major theologians like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ignatius of Loyola, but we also will consider popular religious practices of the period. Finally, we will ask how cultural evolution and religious revolution influenced one another, especially in the rise of vernacular translations of the Bible and in the European colonization of the New World. 3 hrs lect.


Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2015

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RELI 0239 - Pentecostalism & Lib. Theology      

Pentecostalism and Liberation Theology
In this course we will compare Pentecostalism and Liberation Theology, two movements of considerable popularity and influence in 20th and 21st century global Christianity. We will begin with an exploration of the central beliefs and practices in Pentecostalism, its origins in the Azuza Street Revival, and the reasons for its success around the world. Then we will turn our attention to Liberation Theology, beginning with the work of prominent Latin American theologians and extending in different forms to North America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. Finally, we will consider how these movements represent different responses to the intellectual, cultural, and economic challenges of postmodern society.


Spring 2011

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RELI 0331 - History of the Bible      

History of the Bible ST, WT *
The Christian Bible is the best-selling book of all time, but also a text with complicated history. Beginning with an overview of book production in the ancient world, we will chart the historical development of the Bible as a physical text and a sacred object. We will explore the origins of the Bible's texts, including apocryphal works and non-western variations on the canon. We will examine different frameworks employed in the history of biblical interpretation, from allegorical and typological readings to the Reformation doctrine of sola scriptura. Finally, we will consider the rise of the King James Bible and its influence on Anglo-American culture and Christian missions. (RELI 0130, RELI 0180, or waiver) 3 hrs. sem.


Fall 2011

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RELI 0335 - Roman Catholicism      

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


Fall 2012, Spring 2015

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RELI 0500 - Independent Research      

Independent Research
(Approval Required)

Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

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RELI 0601 - Senior Project in Religion      

Senior Project
(Approval Required)

Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012

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RELI 0700 - Senior Project in Religion      

Senior Project
(Approval Required)

Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

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RELI 0701 - Senior Thesis in Religion      

Senior Research for Honors Candidates
Approval required

Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

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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.


Winter 2013, Winter 2015

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