Jan R. Stenger

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2015/2016
discipline Literature
MacDowell Professor of Greek Classics, School of Humanities University of Glasgow

Research project

Gaza: Tradition and Leadership in an Ancient Learning City


The Greek polis of Gaza in Palestine underwent, in common with other cities, a profound transformation during the fifth and sixth centuries CE in society, economy and religion. What is unique about Gaza in these decades is its thriving and wide-ranging culture, as documented by ample literary and material evidence. Speeches, letters and philosophical works reveal that education, in particular the place of the classical heritage, was a major concern of both rhetoricians and Christian leaders, as well as of the wider public. The key questions of this project are: how did central figures of religious and secular life perform educational authority in the urban society and attempt to shape through their leadership Gaza as a ‘learning city’? To what extent did these efforts respond to the challenges of change? Drawing on a wide range of literary texts, the investigation focuses on the strategies through which pedagogic visions were disseminated across the civic community, in order to explore the ways in which they defined the local culture. The objective of this study is to gain insight into the local dimension of learning amid a process of fundamental transition. Reassessing the place of the classical heritage in the civic discourse will help us to better understand how a Christianised ancient city accommodated to the changing context by negotiating the boundaries between traditional education and religious instruction.



Jan Stenger is MacDowell Professor of Greek in the School of Humanities of the University of Glasgow. He also was Visiting Professor at the University of Cologne and the University of Munich. He holds a Ph.D in Classics from the University of Kiel. His research interests include Greek lyric poetry, Greek literature and culture in late antiquity, epistolography, and ancient Christianity.

Selected publications


'The Soul and the City: John Chrysostom’s Modelling of Urban Space', in T. Fuhrer, F. Mundt & J. Stenger (eds), Cityscaping: Constructing and Modelling Images of the City, De Gruyter, Berlin, 2015, pp. 133-153.


‘Libanius and the “Game” of Hellenism’, in L. Van Hoof (ed.), Libanius: A Critical Introduction, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2014, pp. 268-292.


‘On the use and abuse of philosophy for life: John Chrysostom’s paradoxical view of knowledge’, in K. Geus & M. Geller (eds), Esoteric Knowledge in Antiquity, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, 2014, pp. 85-105.


‘Eusebius' Erfassung des Heiligen Landes: Die Evidenz des Raumes im Onomastikon der biblischen Ortsnamen’, in K. Geus, & M. Rathmann (eds), Vermessung der Oikumene, De Gruyter, Berlin, 2013, pp. 223-241.


‘'Im Theater erkennt man das Wesen eines Volkes': Dion von Prusa und die symbolische Kommunikation in den Städten des Reiches’, in N. Kramer & R. Reitz (eds.), Tradition und Erneuerung. Mediale Strategien in der Zeit der Flavier, De Gruyter, Berlin, 2010, pp. 397-427.


Hellenische Identität in der Spätantike: Pagane Autoren und ihr Unbehagen an der eigenen Zeit, De Gruyter, Berlin, 2009.  


Poetische Argumentation: Die Funktion der Gnomik in den Epinikien des Bakchylides, De Gruyter, Berlin, 2004.


senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
discipline Law
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
discipline Philosophy
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
discipline Philosophy