Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies

Prof JN Vorster

College of Human Sciences
School of Humanities
Department: Biblical and Ancient Studies
Tel: 012 429 4024


  • BA Hons (Greek)
  • DD New Testament (UP, 1991)

NRF Rating


Fields of academic interests

  • Rhetoric of Religious Discourse
  • Rhetoric of Biblical Discourse
  • Rhetoric(s) of the Body and the writings of Lactantius
  • Early Christian Studies – Apocrypha and Martyr narratives
  • Early Christian Studies -  Pauline material
  • Gender and Early Christianity
  • Contemporary Culture and Biblical Discourse

Field of Specialisation

  • Rhetoric, in particular Rhetoric of Religion and Rhetoric of the Body;
  • Gender Studies, in particular Queer Studies
  • The Graeco-Roman world, in particular gender relations, sexualities and constructions of the body;
  • Early Christianity, in particular Pauline material, the martyr narratives and Apocrypha, as well as Lactantius;
  • The changing role of the University, in particular the problem of managerialism and the role of the public intellectual.


Book chapters:

  • Construction of culture through the construction of person: The construction of Thecla in the ‘Acts of Thecla’, in Levine, A-J. A feminist comparison to New Testament Apocrypha
  • Aspects of a Rhetoric of the Body and the Letter to the Romans, (rev.) in ´Reflecting on Romans: Essays in Celebration of Andrie du Toit’s 80th Birthday.’ Edited by Steyn, Gert. Leuven: Peeters Press.
  • Rhetorical Criticism, in Du Toit, AB (ed), Focusing the message of the New Testament. Pretoria: Protea.

Journal articles

Journal articles pertinent to current interests:

  • Pondering Possibilities of the Biblical Critic as Public Intellectual, Part One: Problematising the Public Intellectual and the Identity of the Biblical Scholar. Scriptura 115, 1-35 – 2016.
  • Exploring Bodily and Spatial Rhetoric in the Dei Opficio Dei of Lactantius. Religion & Theology 22:1-25 - 2015
  • Die probleem van Representasionalisme en die Moontlikhede van Retoriek(e) van die Lyf vir ‘n Gesonde Gemeenskap. Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe 55(4):523-539 – 2015.
  • Re-membering the mother of the seven in 4 Maccabees. Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae Supplement  - 2015
  • Introduction: Interconnecting Discourses – Gender, Bible, Publics. Neotestamentica 28(1): 1-31; 2014.
  • Engendering Biblical Discourse, Scriptura - 2012
  • Exploring the Possibilities of the Family as Strategy in the Roman Empire and Early Christianity. Acta Patristica Et Byzantina: A Journal of Early Christian and Byzantine Studies 21(2), 227-255 - 2010
  • From the ‘domus’ to the ‘spectaculum’: Family and Martyrship in Early Christianity. Sciptura 104 (2), 388-405 - 2010
  • Spaces Vying for Power: The Rhetoric of Religion as a Rhetoric of  Spatiality and the Role of the Public Intellectual. Religion and Theology 17(3/4) – 2010.
  • Androgyny and early Christianity. Religion and Theology 15, 97-132 -2008
  • Rhetorically reflecting on “Jesus” research. Theologia Viatorum 32(2), 6-48 -2008.
  • Problematising the development of same-sex rhetoric in selected reformed denominational traditions in South Africa. Scriptura 99, 321-336 - 2008
  • *Why opting for foolishness is wise: Ambiguity and the Rhetoric of Gender enquiry. Old Testament Essays 19(3) – 2006.
  • *The making of male same-sex in the Graeco-Roman world and its implication for the interpretation of Biblical discourses. Scriptura 93(3) – 2006.
  • The rhetoric of Graeco-Roman erotic love versus early Christian rhetoric. Scriptura 90(3) – 2005.
  • Reflecting on the rhetoric(s) of body politics and religious discourse. Scriptura 90(3) – 2005.
  • And god became human: conversations within the Humanities. Religion and Theology 12(3/4) – 2005.
  • Bodily parts vying for power: Hierarchies and bodies in early Christianity. Scriptura 80(1) – 2002.
  • The blood of the female martyrs as the sperm of the early church. Religion and Theology 9(1/2) – 2002.
  • ‘n Politieke tegnologie van die vroeë Christen se gepynigde liggaam. Verbum et Ecclesia 22(2) - 2001
  • (E)mpersonating the bodies of early Christianity. Neotestamentica 34(1) – 2000.

Professional positions, fellowships & awards

  • Vice-President (Association for Rhetoric and Communication in Southern Africa 1994-2000)
  • Mapping the body is neither anatomy nor physiology: The academic study of religion and a cultural rhetorics of the body. The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada- invited keynote speaker at the Canadian Society of Religious Studies. Toronto, University of Toronto (1999).
  • Non-stipendiary fellowship and grant for research at the University of Victoria’s Centre for Studies of Religion and Society (Victoria, Canada, 2002).
  • Society of Biblical Literature session chair and coordinator (2000-2001): Rhetoric
  • NTSSA session chair, organiser, coordinator Rhetoric/Gender subgroups (1995-2000)
  • Organiser Rhetoric Conferences (1994, 2000, 2004, 2009, 2013)
  • Editorial Board (Queen: Electronic Journal 2000-2008; Neotestamentica 1993-2000; The Canadian Journal of Religious Studies 2002-2005; Religion and Theology 2012- )


  • Rhetoric(s) of the Body as Critical Framework for Inquiring Religious Discourses
  • The Rhetoric of Biblical and Early Christian Rhetorical Critics
  • Towards a Development of Strategies at Work in the Making of Religious Discourse
  • The Onslaught of Neoliberalism on the University and its Effects on the Study of Religious Discourses
  • The Public Intellectual, “Thinking With Ancient Texts.”
  • Constructions of Bodies and Sexualities in Early Christianity