Loyola University Chicago

Department of Theology

Faculty & Staff Directory

Emily Cain, PhD

Title/s:  Associate Professor

Specialty Area: Christianity in Late Antiquity

Office #:  Crown Center 325

Phone: 773.508.2201

Email: ecain@luc.edu

CV Link: Cain CV

External Webpage: https://luc.academia.edu/EmilyCain


Emily Cain completed her Ph.D at Fordham University (2016) in the History of Christianity and her M.Div at Princeton Theological Seminary (2007). Her primary area of research is Christian Late Antiquity and its intersection with the Ancient Mediterranean World. Specifically, she examines philosophical and medical texts about ancient conceptions of the body to reveal the ways in which late ancient Christians constructed themselves, their worlds, and their God. Her research is tied together around the central themes of ancient conceptions of the body, rhetoric, and power/agency. She is always interested in what lies beneath the surface, so to speak, as she seeks to uncover assumptions that both authors and readers bring to ancient texts.

Her first monograph, Mirrors of the Divine: Late Ancient Christianity and the Vision of God, shows how four influential late ancient authors—Tertullian of Carthage, Clement of Alexandria, Gregory of Nyssa, and Augustine of Hippo—employ language of vision and of mirrors in their discursive struggles to construct Christian agency, identity, and epistemology. Her book demonstrates that writing on vision and mirrors engages classical philosophical debates for new theological ends, as discussions of cosmology and the makeup of the world lead to discussions of theological anthropology and the theological understanding of the human within that world. Discussions of epistemology and the nature of knowledge give way to discourses on mystical theology and the nature of the knowledge of God in this life. Mirrors reveals that vision is key to understanding issues of religion, philosophy, identity, social interactions, and the politics or limitations of knowledge.  


Program Areas

Systematic Theology

Research Interests

Christianities in Late Antiquity, Mystical Theologies, Epistemology, Rhetoric, Gender and Sexuality in Late Antiquity, Disability


Selected Publications

Mirrors of the Divine: Late Ancient Christianity and the Vision of God. New York: Oxford University Press. 2023.

“Perfected Perception: Modes of Knowing God in Clement of Alexandria.” Studia Patristica CX, Vol. 7, ed. Markus Vinzent et al. Leuven: Peeters, 2021: 167-175.

“Mystical Wounds: Eastern Patristic Authors on the Song of Songs.” ed. Timothy Robinson, Song of Songs in Christian Spirituality. Companion to the Song of Songs in Christian History. Leiden: Brill, 2021: 18-41.

“Tertullian’s Precarious Panopticon: A Performance of Visual Piety.” Journal of Early Christian Studies. 27.4. Winter 2019, 611-633.

“Medically Modified Eyes: A Baptismal Cataract Surgery in Clement of Alexandria.” Studies in Late Antiquity. 2.4. Winter 2018, 491-511.