Loyola University Chicago

Department of Theology

Faculty & Staff Directory

Olivia Stewart Lester, PhD

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

Office #:  Crown Center 329

Phone: 8 - 2351

Email: ostewartlester@luc.edu

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 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 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 pseudepigraphy, apocalyptic historiography, Jewish and Christian iconography, and ancient and modern anti-Judaism. She also works on Paul and is writing a commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians for the Hermeneia series (Fortress Press, under contract).

She co-chairs the John’s Apocalypse and Cultural Contexts Ancient and Modern Section and serves on the Steering Committee for the Greco-Roman Religions Section of the Society of Biblical Literature.




PhD, Yale University
STM, Yale Divinity School
MDiv, Yale Divinity School
BA, Southeastern University

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

“Prophecy.” In The Septuagint and Old Testament Apocrypha. Edited by J. K. Aitken and Bruce Longenecker. Ancient Literature and New Testament Studies 1. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic, forthcoming.

“Death, Demise, and the Decline of Prophecy.” Religion & Theology 29.1–2 (2022): 99–109.

“Ambivalent Appropriation: Engagement with Apollo in Jewish and Christian Texts and Material Culture.” Journal of Early Christian History 10.2 (2020; published 2021): 28–48.

“The Sibylline Oracles: A Case Study in Ancient and Modern Anti-Judaism.” Pages 125–48 in Protestant Bible Scholarship: Antisemitism, Philosemitism and Anti-Judaism. Edited by Arjen Bakker, René Bloch, Yael Fisch, Paula Fredriksen, and Hindy Najman. Leiden: Brill, 2022.

“Views of the World to Come in the Jewish-Christian Sibylline Oracles.” Pages 261–82 in Dreams, Visions, Imaginations: Jewish, Christian, and Gnostic Views of the World to Come. Edited by Tobias Nicklas, Jens Schröter, and Armand Puig i Tàrrech. BZNW 247. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2021.

“The Four Kingdoms Motif and Sibylline Temporality in Sibylline Oracles 4.” Pages 121–41 in The Four Kingdoms Motif before and beyond the Book of Daniel. Edited by Andrew Perrin and Loren Stuckenbruck. Themes in Biblical Narrative 28. Leiden: Brill, 2020.

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

Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4–5. WUNT 2/466. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018.