Below is a list of faculty that are active in the department, and available to students with course specific questions. If you need administrative support, we encourage you to refer your questions to one of the following;

  • The Chair of the department (see below) can address detailed program questions, including program requirements, planning and selection, research opportunities, graduate studies, and more.
  • The Academic Advisor, if available, can offer support including course registration and course load, important dates, academic policies and more.
  • The Academic Deans serve as the academic and administrative anchors to the professors within their Faculties or Schools as well as the students.

Faculty of the Religion, Society and Culture Department:

Dr. Daniel Miller

Dr. Daniel Miller

Associate Professor – Department Chairperson

Daniel Miller is Associate Professor in the Religion, Society and Culture Department, teaching, among others, courses in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, comparative world religions, the intersection of religion with politics and sports, New Religious Movements, ancient magic and divination, and apocalyptic belief.

He received his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan. His original research areas are Canaanite-Israelite cultic practices and ancient West Semitic magic. Recently, he has moved into the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in the context of an innovative pedagogical technique he has developed (“Augmented Lecturing”), which seamlessly intersperses conventional speech with short, targeted video and audio clips to drive the lecture narrative forward.

Dr. Michele Murray

Dr. Michele Murray

Full Professor – Dean of Arts

Michele Murray is Professor in the Religion, Society and Culture Department. She teaches courses in Christian origins, women in religion, film and religion, and how religions, both ancient and modern, have dealt with the experiences of death and dying. She obtained her M.A. from Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Second Temple period Jewish history, and her Ph.D. in Religion from the University of Toronto. Her research areas are Jewish-Christian relations in the ancient world, and the interaction among Eastern Mediterranean religions in late antiquity.

Dr. Murray’s Research

The Magical Female: Women and Magic in Jewish and Christian Communities of Late Antiquity

There has been much research directed toward women and magic in the Middle Ages, however studies focusing on women and magic in the first few centuries of the Common Era tend to be rare. Dr. Murray’s research concentrates on the important, yet largely neglected area of women and magic in Jewish and Christian communities of late antiquity. She focuses on the regions of Syria-Palestine and western Asia Minor during the first four centuries of the Common Era, areas that were home to Jewish communities and early Christian churches. Her project will explore literary evidence and archaeological realia (incantations, curse tablets, amulets and inscriptions) pertaining to magical practices in these geographical areas.

“The Magical Female” project studies two main issues: the ideology about women and the practice of magic, and the actual practice of magic by women. The ideology will address questions such as:

  • What did Jewish and Christian writers write and think about women’s relationship to ritual power?
  • What stereotypes of women are reflected in these sources?
  • Were women understood to practice magic differently than men?
  • What types of women are described as engaging in magic?

The actual practice of magic by women will address questions such as:

  • How did some women employ ritual practices to gain power?
  • What types of magical rituals are associated with females?
  • What does material culture, such as curse tablets and amulets, reveal about women’s participation in such rituals?

Dr. Murray’s objective is to advance knowledge on the broad topic of religion and magic in late antiquity, and to contribute to the more specific area of women’s religious and ritual practices in early Christianity and post-biblical Judaism.

Michele on Roman Road in Syria


Nabatean Private Cults

Dr. Murray and Mohammad Dashan (a Bedouin), Dr. Murray’s current research project brings together her interest in investigating literary evidence and archaeological realia for insight into ancient religious practice. Scholarly attention has been drawn of late to the importance of studying adaptive religious structures in the Roman world, particularly evidence reflecting architectural modification of the private home for cultic use. Analysis of the various stages of renovation of ancient buildings imparts important social evidence regarding the status and circumstances of religious communities. Dr. Murray’s goal is to explore the religious activities of ancient Nabatean people; more specifically, she wishes to examine whether a large Nabatean housing complex, recently unearthed at Wadi Ath-Thamad, Jordan, reflects evidence of architectural renovation for cultic purposes.

In the first century CE, the Nabateans, a Semitic tribespeople, controlled more than 1000 sites throughout the Mediterranean, particularly dominating the trade routes of the Arabian Peninsula. They were a wealthy people who secured the sources and markets or the profitable frankincense and myrrh trade and added to this spices, gems, balsams, bitumen, and, eventually, even the China silk trade. Petra, located in modern-day Jordan, was their urban capital. This strikingly beautiful city contained an oversized theatre, public bath, temples, and more than 800 rock-carved funerary monuments.

This project entails both textual analysis and the study of archaeological data. For the textual analysis, Dr. Murray will investigate Roman, Jewish, and Christian sources from the Late Antiquity for information regarding Nabatean religious practices. The archaeological component of the project requires that Dr. Murray gather all available excavation reports on Nabatean communities and, centrally to the project, participate in the Canadian-led archaeological excavation at Wadi Ath-Thamad, Jordan.

Dr. Murray’s Publications


Playing a Jewish Game: Gentile Christian Judaizers in the First and Second Centuries C.E. (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2004).


“The First Letter of John” in The Jewish Annotated New Testament, 2nd Edition, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 518-526.

“Romans 2 Within the Broader Context of Gentile Judaizing in Early Christianity,” in The So-Called Jew in Paul’s Letter to the Romans, eds., Rafael Rodriguez and Matthew Thiessen (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2016), 163-182.

“Jewish Traditions” in World Religions, eds., Willard Oxtoby, Amir Hussain and Roy C. Amore (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 74-147 to “Jewish Traditions” in World Religions, eds., Willard Oxtoby, Amir Hussain and Roy C. Amore (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 74-147.

“The First Letter of John” in The Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 448-455.

“Religion and the Nomadic Lifestyle: The Nabateans” in Travel and Religion in Antiquity, ed., Philip A. Harland (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2011): pp. 215-234.

“Female Corporeality, Magic, and Gender in the Babylonian Talmud,” Religion & Theology 15, no 3&4 (2008): pp.199-224.

“The Magical Female in Greco-Roman Rabbinic Literature” Religion and Theology 14, no. 3&4 (2007), pp. 284-309.

“Christian Identity in the Apostolic Constitutions: Some Observations” in Identity & Interaction in the Ancient Mediterranean: Jews, Christians and Others, eds. Zeba Crook and Philip Harland (Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2007), pp. 179-194.

Book Reviews

Abortion and the Apostolate: A Study in Pauline Conversion, Rhetoric, and Scholarship, Matthew W. Mitchell, Biblical Quarterly Review 2011

The Mind Behind the Gospels, Herbert W. Basser in Shofar 2011

Mr. Samuel Borsman

Mr. Samuel Borsman

Contract Faculty

Samuel Borsman holds a graduate degree from Harvard Divinity School. He has taught several courses for the Religion, Society and Culture Department, mainly in the area of Eastern religions. His research interests include North American Buddhism, inter-religious dialogue between Buddhist and Christian contemplative traditions, and Buddhist and Christian responses to the environmental crisis.