On February 25, Dr. Rod Stearn, an adjunct history professor at Transy and Director of Catechesis, Faith Formation, and Religious Education of The Catholic Diocese of Lexington, gave a talk on the recent release of his book titled “Historiography and Hierotopy: Palestinian Hagiography in the Sixth Century A.D.” To celebrate the publication of his book, Dr. Stearn was invited to participate as part of the Classical Humanities Society of South Jersey Lecture Series provided by Stockton University, his alma mater.
The end result of this publication was an extensive journey for Dr. Stearn totaling twelve years: “explaining the unique aspects of Judean Christianity took so long because the rabbit hole kept getting deeper. I ended up borrowing tools from more and more fields, such as economic sociology, network theory, literary criticism, and archaeology, to process it.” He began the process as a first-year grad student during which time his advisor gave him a few sources on sixth-century Palestine. He found that the Judean hagiographies produced by monasteries from this time period were unique in context and structure, and so his research began.
The depth of the book is, I hope, a contribution to my field. Beyond that, I hope it provides a thorough perspective on that region and period for anyone who picks it up. Scholars might enjoy the introductory explanations of historiography and methodology, together with the copious footnotes. A casual reader can skip those, and enjoy the narrative at a more enjoyable pace. Hopefully, there’s something here for everyone who enjoys a history book. — Dr. Stearn