Loyola University Chicago

Department of Theology

Faculty & Staff Directory

Brian Yong Lee, PhD

Title/s:  Assistant Professor, New Testament and Early Christianity

Office #:  Crown Center 430

Phone: 773.508.2343

Email: blee18@luc.edu

CV Link: Brian_Lee_CV


Dr. Brian Yong Lee is Assistant Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Loyola University Chicago. He received a PhD in Theology (Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity) from the University of Notre Dame (2018), an MTS from Weston Jesuit School of Theology, and an MA (Philosophy) and BA (Philosophy, Theology) from Boston College. Before arriving at Loyola, he was Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture and MA Director at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corners, WI.

His research focuses on the origins of early Christian theological concepts and ethical practices in the context of late Second Temple Jewish and Greco-Roman intellectual and cultic discourses. He is currently working on two monograph projects. The first, Reframing Paul’s Use of Philosophy in 1 Corinthians: Prophecy, Stoicism, and Pauline Participationism, breaks new ground in identifying the intellectual and cultural discourses that shaped the complex epistolary interchange between an early Christian community in the Roman city of Corinth and Paul. The monograph refines scholarly understanding of the rhetorical strategies and philosophical concepts and practices employed by these early Christians as part of their negotiation of a tapestry of diverse cultural traditions that made up the microculture of this community.

The second monograph, The Origins of Early Christian Forgiveness, traces the development of interpersonal forgiveness as an ethical ideal from its origins in Second Temple Jewish covenantal theology to its later configurations in Hellenistic Judaism and early Christianity. The book situates the rhetorical, conceptual, and practical dimensions of a variety of expressions of interpersonal forgiveness found in early Jewish and early Christian New Testament literature within the emotional landscapes of Hellenistic philosophy (from the conception of forgiveness as a failure of justice to the subordination of the passions under reason) and the diverse conceptual frameworks (including cultic purity and sacrifice, Jewish and Christian apocalyptic eschatology, Pauline “participationism,” and others) that early Jews and Christians used to imagine and understand the relationship between divine and human action within a covenantal framework. The research for this book was funded by a 2018 John Templeton foundation grant and a 2020–2021 USCCB/Catholic Biblical Association research grant.

In addition to his historical research, Dr. Lee has long cultivated broader interests in political philosophy, political theology, and contemporary Catholic theology. He recently organized a major conference with the U.S. apostolic nunciature exploring the roots of Pope Francis’s theology in the Latin American teología del pueblo tradition among other European theological influences and co-edited the proceedings with Fr. Thomas Knoebel as the award-winning Discovering Pope Francis: The Roots of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s Thought (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2019). He is also beginning to work with colleagues in political science and theology to explore the contemporary political and theological implications of his research on early Jewish and Christian interpersonal forgiveness.

Outside of his academic work he has been actively engaged in Catholic lay ministry with the Community of Sant’Egidio for almost 25 years.

Program Areas

New Testament and Early Christianity

Research Interests

Pauline Literature, Second Temple Judaism, Hellenistic Judaism, Hellenistic philosophy, Early Jewish and Christian ethics


• Catholic Press Association Award, 2nd place for Discovering Pope Francis, Pope Francis
• Catholic Media Award, 2nd place for Discovering Pope Francis, Theology
• Catholic Biblical Association CCD Grant for the Promotion of Biblical Scholarship and Biblical Literacy, $32,748 sabbatical research funding for Forgiveness, Faith, and Justice in Early Christianity
• Templeton Grant Co-Recipient, Re-engaging Science and Theology in Seminary Formation, John Templeton Foundation, $12,500
• Teaching Fellowship, Notre Dame International, University of Notre Dame, Jerusalem, Israel
• Summer Dissertation Research Fellowship, Theology Department, University of Notre Dame
• Dean's Scholarship, The Graduate School, University of Notre Dame
• Summer Study Grant, The Graduate School, University of Notre Dame, Jerusalem, Israel
• Scholarship, Weston Jesuit School of Theology
• Lay ministry tuition grant, The Paulist Center, Boston, MA
• National Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu
• Bernard Lonergan fellowship, Lonergan Institute, Boston College
• Floyd L. Moreland scholarship, Latin/Greek Institute, NY

Selected Publications

“At the Origins of the Biblical Commandment of Interpersonal Forgiveness: Sirach 28:2 in Context.” In Currents in Korean American and Korean Biblical Interpretation. Edited by John Ahn. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2022. (forthcoming)

Review of Biblical Literature 01/2022 Review of Max Botner, Justin Harrison Duff, Simon Dürr, eds., Atonement: Jewish and Christian Origins (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2020).

“The Story of a Symposium: Why We Need a Theological Understanding of Pope Francis’s Thought.” Pages 1–20 in Discovering Pope Francis: The Roots of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s Thought, edited by Brian Y. Lee and Thomas Knoebel. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2019. (Coauthored with Thomas Knoebel)

Discovering Pope Francis: The Roots of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s Thought (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2019). (Co-edited with Fr. Thomas Knoebel)

Review of Biblical Literature 10/2020 Review of Joseph R. Dodson and David E. Briones, eds., Paul and the Giants of Philosophy: Reading the Apostle in Greco-Roman Context (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019).