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Faculty of Divinity



Dr Lunn-Rockliffe read History at St Hugh’s College, Oxford (1995-8), before coming to Cambridge for an MPhil in Political Thought (1999), and a PhD in Late Antique History (2004). She took up a Research Fellowship (2002-4) and then a College Lectureship and Fellowship in History at Peterhouse (2004-6). From 2006-16 she taught Roman History in the Classics Department at King’s College London as a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer, before returning to Cambridge and Peterhouse in 2016. She has also held visiting fellowships at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies at Columbia University (2006), and at the Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University (2012).


Dr Lunn-Rockliffe’s research centres on the life and thought of the church in a 'long' late antiquity (from the second to sixth centuries CE) in the Greco-Roman Mediterranean and further afield, especially in the Syriac-speaking world. Her PhD was on the political theology of Ambrosiaster, an anonymous Christian writer of the later fourth century. Her current major project is on late ancient ideas of the devil and demons, concentrating on notions of diabolical agency. She also has long-standing interests in patristic biblical exegesis, political thought, the history of liturgy, inter-religious relations in late antiquity, and magical texts and objects.


Key publications: 



Ambrosiaster’s Political Theology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), x + 211 pp. [reviewed by R. Markus, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 59 (2008), 529-30; L. Swift, Religious Studies Review 35.4 (2009), 276; A. Bastiaensen, Vigiliae Christianae 63.4 (2009), 422-3; D. Hunter, Journal of Early Christian Studies 18.3 (2010), 463-5]


The Devil’s Work: Early Christian Ideas of Diabolical Agency (monograph in progress)


Edited volumes

S. Lunn-Rockliffe, ed., Demons, special issue of Studia Patristica 82.8 (Peeters, 2018)


Journal articles

‘Pleasure and education in the church fathers: perspectives from East and West’, co-authored with Morwenna Ludlow, Studies in Church History (2019), 6-34


‘Demons between the desert fathers and the rabbis’, in M. Bar Asher Siegal, D. Weiss, H. Zellentin, eds, Jewish Studies Quarterly 25, The Talmud and Christianity (2018), 1-28


‘Cyprian and the senescence of the world’, Revue des Études Tardo-antiques, supplément 5 (2018), 267-76


‘Introduction’, and ‘Chaotic mob or disciplined army? Collective bodies of demons in ascetic literature?’, in S. Lunn-Rockliffe, ed., special issue of Studia Patristica 82.8, Demons, (2018), 1-6 & 33-50


‘The invention and demonization of a ‘Messalian’ heresiarch: Philoxenus of Mabbug on Adelphius’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 68.3 (July 2017), 1-19


‘The diabolical problem of Satan’s first sin: self-moved pride or a response to the goads of

envy?’, Studia Patristica 63 (2013), 121-140


‘Bishops on the chair of pestilence: Ambrosiaster’s polemical exegesis of psalm 1:1’, Journal of Early Christian Studies 19.1 (2011), 79-99


‘Commemorating the usurper Maximus: ekphrasis, poetry, and history in Pacatus’ Panegyric of Theodosius’, Journal of Late Antiquity 3.2 (2010), 316-36


‘Ambrosiaster revising Ambrosiaster’, co-authored by T. De Bruyn, M.-P. Bussières, S. Cooper, D. Hunter, and S. Lunn-Rockliffe, Revue d’Études Augustiniennes et Patristiques 56 (2010), 21-92


‘Ambrose’s imperial funeral orations’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 59.2 (2008), 191-207


‘Ambrosiaster’s political diabology’, Studia Patristica 43 (2006), 423-8


Book chapters

‘Augustine on the diabolical suggestion of sin’, in J. Aitken, H. Patmore, and I. Rosen-Zvi, eds, The Evil Inclination in Jewish and Early Christian Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2021), 212-31


‘Demonic speech in early Christian hagiography and hymnography’, in N. Hartmann and E. Elm, eds, Demons in Late Antiquity: Their Perception and Transformation in Different Literary Genres (De Gruyter, 2020), 151-66


‘Demons and demonology’, in J. Lössl and N. Baker-Brian, eds, Blackwell Companion to Religion in Late Antiquity (Wiley Blackwell, 2018), 493-510


‘Over-eating demoniacs in late antique hagiography’, in S. Bhayro and C. Rider, eds, Demons and Illness: Theory and Practice from Antiquity to the Early Modern Period (Brill, 2017), 215-31


‘The power of the jewelled style: Christian signs and names in Optatian’s poetry and on gems’, in M. Squire and J. Wienand, eds, Morphogrammata: The Lettered Art of Optatian: Figuring Cultural Transformations in the Age of Constantine and Beyond (W. Fink Munich, 2016), 427-59


‘Diabolical motivations: the Devil in ecclesiastical histories from Eusebius to Evagrius’, in G.

Greatrex et al., eds, Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity X: Genre (Ashgate, 2015), 119-31


‘Visualizing the demonic: the Gadarene exorcism in early Christian art and literature’, in R. Raiswell and P. Dendle, eds, The Devil in Society in Pre-Modern Europe (Toronto, 2012), 439-57


‘Prologue topics and translation problems in Latin commentaries on Paul’, in J. Lössl and J. Watt, eds, Interpreting the Bible and Aristotle: The Alexandrian Commentary Tradition from Rome to Baghdad (Ashgate, 2011), 33-47


‘Early Christian political philosophy’, ch. 9 in G. Klosko, ed., The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2011)


‘A pragmatic approach to poverty and riches: Ambrosiaster’s quaestio CXXIV’, chapter in R. Osborne and M. Atkins, eds, The Poor and Ideas of Poverty from the Gracchi to Justinian (Cambridge University Press, 2006), 115-29



Dictionary and Encyclopedia entries                                                

39 articles for the Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity, including major entries on ‘Ambrose’, ‘Ambrosiaster’, ‘Christianization’, ‘Cyprian’, ‘Origen’, ‘dreams’, ‘demons’, and ‘paganism’ (2018)


‘Satan / the Devil’ for Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity (2019)


Associate Professor in Patristics
Fellow in Theology and Religious Studies, Peterhouse
Secretary of the Degree Committee
Dr Sophie  Lunn-Rockliffe

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