Loyola University Chicago

Department of Theology

Faculty & Staff Directory

Olivia Stewart Lester, PhD

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

Office #:  Crown Center 329

Phone: 8 - 2351


CV Link: Olivia Stewart Lester

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


Dr. Olivia Stewart Lester is Assistant Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Loyola University Chicago. She is also a Centre for the Study of the Bible Fellow at Oriel College, University of Oxford (https://www.oriel.ox.ac.uk/people/dr-olivia-stewart-lester). She received a PhD in Religious Studies (New Testament) from Yale University (2017), an MDiv (2010) and STM (New Testament, 2011) from Yale Divinity School, and a BA from Southeastern University (2007). Before arriving at Loyola, she was a John Fell Postdoctoral Fellow in the Bible and the Humanities Project at Oriel College, University of Oxford, and a Visiting Scholar at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (2017–18).

Her research focuses on prophecy in Hellenistic Judaism, early Christianity, and the larger ancient Mediterranean. Her first book is entitled Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4­–5 (Mohr Siebeck, 2018). The book adds to a growing body of scholarship challenging widespread narratives about prophecy’s decline in the early Roman imperial period and examines constructions of true and false prophecy at the intersections of interpretation, gender, and economics.

She is currently working on a monograph on the Jewish-Christian Sibylline Oracles, a rare ancient example of collected prophecies written in the voice of a woman. Related to this book project, her recent publications and ongoing research examine the relationship between the Sibylline Oracles and apocalyptic historiography, Jewish and Christian iconography, and ancient and modern anti-Judaism.


Program Areas

New Testament and Early Christianity

Research Interests

Prophecy, Gender, Pseudepigraphy, Revelation, Sibylline Oracles, Hellenistic Judaism, Apocalypticism, Biblical Interpretation, Religion and Violence, Ancient Economies

Selected Publications

“Views of the World to Come in the Jewish-Christian Sibylline Oracles,” in Dreams, Visions, Imaginations: Jewish, Christian, and Gnostic Views of the World to Come, ed. Tobias Nicklas and Jens Schröter, BZNW (Berlin: De Gruyter, forthcoming).

 “The Four Kingdoms Motif and Sibylline Temporality in Sibylline Oracles 4,” The Eras of Empires: Four Kingdoms Motifs in Ancient Historiographies, ed. Andrew Perrin and Loren Stuckenbruck, Themes in Biblical Narrative (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming).

“Revealed History as Prophetic Rivalry: John’s Apocalypse, the Sibylline Oracles, and the Prophecy of Apollo,” Early Christianity 10.4 (2019): 461–80. 

“Sibylline Oracles 4–5,” T & T Clark Companion to Second Temple Judaism, ed. Daniel M. Gurtner and Loren T. Stuckenbruck (New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2019). 

Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4–5 (WUNT II: Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018). 

“Jezebel: A Study in Prophecy, Divine Violence, and Gender.” Pages 509–22 in New Perspectives on the Book of Revelation, ed. Adela Yarbro Collins (BETL 291; Leuven: Peeters, 2017). 

“‘I Will Speak . . . With My Whole Person in Ecstasy’: Instrumentality and Independence in the Sibylline Oracles.” Pages 1232-46 in Sibyls, Scriptures, and Scrolls: John Collins at Seventy, ed. Joel Baden, Hindy Najman, and Eibert Tigchelaar (2 vols.; Leiden: Brill, 2017).