ECR Interview: Dr. Elizabeth Corsar


Associate Tutor in Biblical Studies, Scottish Episcopal Institute, Edinburgh

Areas of Interest/Research:

Early Christianity, particularly canonical and non-canonical gospels; Classical Antiquity and ancient compositional practices.

What is it about your field that you love researching?

I LOVE working with texts! For my thesis, which focused on ancient compositional practices and John’s use of Mark, I not only worked with Mark’s and John’s Gospel, but also the works of Horace, Seneca, “Longinus”, Quintilian, Plutarch, Tacitus, Josephus, and the Gospel of Peter. I love getting my coloured pens out and really digging deep into these fascinating texts.

What is one “big idea” in your scholarship?

The composition of John’s gospel and the author’s creative use of Mark is more consistent with ancient literary practice than Matthew’s and Luke’s somewhat slavish use of Mark. Therefore, John’s use of Mark makes more sense than Matthew’s and Luke’s use of Mark.

What is your current research about?

Since finishing my thesis, I have begun researching the use of sources and the genre(s) in the Protevangelium of James. I am also beginning to explore the reception of John’s gospel in 2nd and 3rd century early Christian texts alongside my colleague Julia Lindenlaub

Who is one of your academic heroes and why do you admire them?

Dr Andy Byers! Andy is a fantastic Johannine scholar, and also one of the most supportive people you could meet in the academy. We have shared great conversations on the train home from the British New Testament Conference.

What books have been formative for you in your study? Why were they so important? How did they shape you?

R.A. Derrenbacker’s monograph, Ancient Compositional Practices and the Synoptic Problem, was immensely important methodologically for my thesis. Also, R. Bauckham’s essay, “The Gospel of John and the Synoptic Problem”, draws on Derrenbacker’s work and calls for John’s use of Mark to be investigated in light of ancient compositional practices; this was the springboard for my thesis.

Do you have any publications we can showcase?

My thesis is almost ready to send off to a publisher for consideration. I am excited to see it in print soon and to hear what other people think. 

Where can we follow you online?

Twitter: @DrECorsar

If we ran into you at SBL/AAR and you didn’t want to talk about your field what would you want to talk about?

I love cooking, and I am always eager to know of good recipe books. The Dishoom Cookbook is a firm favourite!

Other than your thesis, what research/writing project are you working on right now that you’re excited about?

Along with my research on the Protevangelium of James and the reception of John, I am also starting to do a bit of research into the life and work of my great – great – grandfather, the Very Reverend Sir George Adam Smith

>> Thank you so much Dr. Corsar for taking the time to share a bit about yourself and your work.

Are you a PhD student or Early Career Researcher working in Religion or Biblical Studies? If so, we’d like to hear from you. This website is dedicated solely to interviewing PhD students and ECRs on who they are, what they love about their work, and what has inspired them. If you’d like to be interviewed, head over to the Contact page and fill out the form. There’s no catch. Don’t be shy. Self-promotion is a virtue.

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