Paul Dilley (PhD Yale, 2008) came to the University of Iowa in 2011 as Assistant Professor of Ancient Mediterranean Religions. He has a joint appointment in Religious Studies and Classics and is a member of the Public Humanities in a Digital World initiative. Dilley previously taught at Penn State University, and has held multiple awards, including Alexander von Humboldt, Jacob Javits, Newcombe, American Research Center in Egypt, and the Andrew Mellon Foundation fellowships. At the University of Iowa he teaches both introductory and advanced classes on the ancient Mediterranean world, the New Testament and early Christianity, methodologies in the study of religion, digital humanities, and the Abrahamic religions.
Professor Dilley is a specialist in the religions of the Mediterranean world and Iran, from the Hellenistic period to early Islam. He is especially interested in the development of early Christianity within the various cultures of the Graeco-Roman world, including Egypt and Syria; as well as the reception of the classical tradition in these diverse areas. His book, "Monasteries and the Care of Souls in Late Antique Christianity: Cognition and Discipline," under contract with Cambridge University Press, explores the innovative practices for the training of thoughts and emotion, both individual and group, developed within early Christian ascetic movements, from the perspective of cognitive anthropology. He has also published various articles in journals and peer-reviewed collections on ancient asceticism and monasticism, the development of orthodoxy and heresy, apocryphal literature, and the canon.
Professor Dilley is also a Digital Humanist, conducting research in text analysis, including “distant reading,” a strategy to uncover clues for interpreting large literary corpora through algorithmic analysis. He explores basic issues of Greek and Latin text analysis in his article “Digital Philology between Alexandria and Babel,” in Ancient Worlds in a Digital Culture (Brill, 2016), co-edited with Claire Clivaz and David Hamidovic, the first volume of the series Digital Biblical Studies, for which he is a member of the editorial board. With Sarah Bond, he is a founder and co-PI of Big Ancient Mediterranean, a site for the coordinated exploration and visualization of linked geospatial, network, and textual data related to the ancient world: https://www.lib.uiowa.edu/bam/.
Professor Dilley is co-editor with Iain Gardner and Jason BeDuhn of the "Dublin Kephalaia Codex," a Late Antique Coptic manuscript, with 360 surviving pages, containing previously unknown discourses of Mani, the Christian arch-heretic. The editorial process involves extensive use of digital photography, including multispectral imaging, to recover damaged text, with generous support from the Australian Research Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities. They published a set of preliminary studies on the manuscript’s exciting new contents, Mani at the Court of the Persian Kings, in the Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies series (Brill, 2014). The editio princeps will be published with the same series in four successive fascicles, with the first set to appear in 2017.
Professor Dilley’s research in Manichaeism is part of a broader interest in the various modes of large-scale and long-term interaction between ancient religious traditions. He is an organizer (with co-PIs Timothy Barrett and Katherine Tachau) of the 2016-2017 Mellon Sawyer Seminar at the University of Iowa, “Cultural and Textual Exchanges: The Manuscript Across Pre-Modern Eurasia.”