David Frankfurter is Professor of Religion and Aurelio Chair in the Appreciation of Scripture at Boston University.

Greg Given is Lecturer on New Testament and Early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School.

Tommy Wasserman is Professor of Biblical studies at Ansgar University College, Kristiansand, and Professor of New Testament studies at Örebro School of Theology.

Benjamin G. Wright is University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Religion Studies at Lehigh University.


Anna Rebecca Solevåg is Professor of New Testament Studies at VID Specialized University in Stavanger, Norway, where she is director of the PhD program in Theology and Religion.


Many letters were never sent; letter writers never dispatched them and the addressees never received them. Some letters may not even have been written.

Some letters we know by their contents—albeit intended for internal consumption—while others are known only by title or by mention in a host text, part of an imagined correspondence. Yet other letters come down to us not as discrete documents but as parts of collections, copied and circulated as books. Are we, as readers and interpreters, the ones who think them into being as documents that were sent, carried, performed, received and archived?

This webinar will explore the many letters that criss-cross the imaginary landscapes of first millennium literatures. The panelists will study letter sending as a trope; look into the functions of ancient literary fiction in epistolary form; explore the generative powers of collections, communication and archives; or discuss the stakes scholarship has in making potentially imaginary dossiers into real documents.

Is it common for letters not to be sent? How do letters function in the literary context where we find them? How is the trope of letter-sending gendered or entangled with other structures of power? Why was the epistolary form so attractive and what does it accomplish?




< Back to webinar overview