I recently completed my PhD in the Committee on the Study of Religion (New Testament and Early Christianity subfield) at Harvard University, with a secondary concentration in Religion, Ethics, and Politics.

I have written a dissertation on the Shepherd of Hermas, a popular second-century Christian text containing visions, commandments, and parables given to Hermas. I demonstrate that the Shepherd depicts believers as enslaved to God, and argue that such a depiction is part of a broader Mediterranean conception of enslavement to deities. My goal is to demonstrate that early Christians are part of a network of ancient religious practitioners that understand their relationship to deities through the institution of enslavement, and that early Christianity is deeply embedded in the institution of enslavement.

Future projects examine the role(s) of the author in early Christian literature, as well as how religious experiences and practices are both used and portrayed in ancient Mediterranean slave revolts.

My research interests include Greek and Coptic papyrology and literature, enslavement and imperialism in antiquity, anti-Judaism, authorship and authorial attribution, and the translation of late ancient and Byzantine apocryphal texts.


PhD, Harvard University (2017–2023)

  • Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean

  • Advisor – Karen L. King

MAR, Yale Divinity School (2015-2017)

  • Bible

BA, St. Olaf College (2011-2015)

  • Religion, Classics, Ancient Studies

Other Publications

“‘They Did Not Belong to Us’: Johannine Language and Social Identity.” Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa (2017): 1-21.

Blog Posts

  • Welcome! (Chance E. Bonar, 2017-08-04)


American Society of Overseas Research (ASOR)

North American Patristics Society (NAPS)

Society of Biblical Literature (SBL)

American Academy of Religion (AAR)

The North American Society for the Study of Christian Apocryphal Literature (NASSCAL)

Nag Hammadi & Gnosticism Network


Chance Bonar

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