Dr. C. Thomas Fraatz
My research interests focus on the use of Scripture as a means of creating authority during times of intra-group conflict in early Christianity. My book manuscript, Rome and Revelation’s Use of Scripture, engages two celebrated topics with the study of the New Testament: Christian theological responses to Roman rule and the use of Jewish Scripture. I explore the Book of Revelation and the scriptural roots of John’s call to his congregations to disengage from Roman civic and religious life. This self-imposed isolation had political implications. My work reveals how, in an intra-Christian debate over who will lead the churches of Asia, John authorizes his prophecy with Scripture’s irrefutable power. Accepted for publication with J. Mohr Siebeck, my book project draws upon postcolonial hermeneutics and the concepts of hybridity and mimicry to advance our understandings of how John proclaimed the replacement of the Roman Empire with an empire of God. To paraphrase Handel’s translation, “The empire of this world [Rome] is now the empire of our God and of his Christ. And he shall reign forever and ever” (Rev 11:15).
I have additional research interests in the political ideologies and identities of first-century Judaism and Christianity as reflected through narratives. The stories expressed by Jewish and early Christian authors interacted with and competed against civic and imperial authority of the ancient Mediterranean world. These apocalyptic myths challenged the socially and politically promoted cultic activities and negotiated a minority understanding of the cosmos that is opposed to the dominant systems. At the same time, this apocalyptic rhetoric did not necessarily reflect the realities of ancient life under the Roman Empire. My research engages this intersection of religious rhetoric and the lived experience of ancient Christians and Jews engaging their Roman and Hellenic neighbors, family, and friends.
Pedagogically, I am interested in the development of courses through the process of “Backward Design.” College professors are both scholars and educators, and they expend as much if not more energy teaching as writing original scholarship. With this in mind, how should faculty design and develop courses to educate better their students both within their classes and throughout the rest of their curricula? What kinds of data can be collected to assess the students’ learning in my courses? More broadly, I am concerned with developing effective methods of teaching the Bible to Millennial and post-Millennial generations of students. How must educators adapt traditional pedagogies to address the needs of students who came of age in the era of Google, Wikipedia, Social Media, and smart phones?